I know Joe Rogan isn't some underdog. He's an incredibly successful entertainer with legions of fans from TV, UFC, podcasting and, of course, stand-up. But there are some heroics that Rogan has performed for comedy that deserve another round of applause from all of us.
The Mencia Takedown
Joe took a stand for one of the most sacred tenants of comedy, "Thou shalt not steal" and brought it out into the public square for judgment. Even if you subscribe to the theory that it's one bully vs another, good. Sometimes a bigger bully is what you need.
Unfortunately, like so many people who take the right stand, Rogan got punished. He was banned from The Comedy Store for breaking the "no filming" rule, which is not at all more important than "no stealing" but... politics. Joke's on them, though, it didn't hurt Rogan's success one bit and, in fact, probably hurt the Store in the long run because...
Joe Rogan Helps Comedy Clubs
At the time of the Mencia takedown, Joe was a regular host at The Comedy Store and had donated a brand new sound system to the club. I'm pretty sure that's the same sound system we use today. And never mind all the mics and broken tiles and whatever Joe could have thrown cash at, he could have kept butts in the seat during the downturn.
He did exactly that for Sal's Comedy Hole when it was struggling to get off the ground in LA. One tweet from Joe and the unknown club was packed. He regularly fills up the Ice House on random Wednesday nights and Rogan's first appearance on Ari Shaffir's live show This Is Not Happening is what bumped it from the Improv Lab to the Main Stage and now it's a Comedy Central Digital series.
Joe Rogan Helps Comedians
Not only is Joe generous in bringing guys out on the road so they can get exposure, he is also generous in actually paying them. That's no dis on the guys who don't have Fear Factor money to throw around, but there are plenty of comedians with tons of shitty movie money that don't even treat their features to dinner. And, of course, JRE has introduced so many people to great comedians like Duncan Trussell, Tom Segura, Christina Paszitsky and Ari Shaffir and more than I can list here.
Deathsquad is very much Redban's baby and he does an amazing job of bringing together a community of comedians and fans, presenting quality podcasts and live comedy and keeping the community engaged. But it sure didn't hurt to have the massive JRE fanbase ready and willing to trust where Redban has been going with it. It's grown far beyond its origin as a podcast network of Rogan satellites, they've gotten into some amazingly creative stuff like #KILLTONY, The Ding Dong Show and #THUNDERPUSSY, plus Redban's been taking the show on the road, bringing Deathsquad stand-up to NorCal, Arizona, Ohio and Toronto.
Making Meatheads Think
I expected Rogan's act to be too "Man Show" for me when I first saw it four years ago. But it's the opposite. It's thoughtful, intelligent, full of questions and dissident viewpoints. Both his stand-up and podcast have introduced a generation of young men to so many spiritual and political ideas that fall well outside the mainstream. Which isn't to say Rogan's audience is all some stereotypical jock bunch. I'm a fan, and plenty of hippes and sensitive guys and dirtbags and grandmas and whatever are too.
So, Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy your turkey and be sure to say Joe Rogan when you do your thankful list at the dinner table. You might be surprised how many people in your family agree.