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Q&A: Joe Rogan Talks Comedy, Cannabis, and Kimbo Slice

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These days, Joe Rogan's amped about a lot of things, including jokes, drug experiments, and the art of ultimate fighting. He's a 20-year standup vet with a television resume that lists NBC sitcom NewsRadio, gross-out game show Fear Factor, and hours upon hours of UFC commentary. This Friday he'll hit the Lincoln Theatre as part of the South Beach Comedy Festival, so New Times figured it was time to talk with the man. But really, Rogan's a famous funny dude with an affinity for hallucinogenics and fisticuffs. And that's reason enough for a conversation. 

New Times: Are Miami crowds good crowds? 

Yeah. They seem great. 

There are a couple YouTube videos of you ... 

Fucking around with Miami. Yeah, that was after one of the UFCs when I was talking shit. 

And you shame hecklers at some of your shows. Do you thrive on that kind of negative audience attention? 

No, no. I would way rather there be no douchebags. But when you have alcohol and public places and you rely on people's personal restraint, oftentimes it goes awry.

You're so good at trash talk, it sorta seems like that's how you discovered you were a funny guy. 

It definitely had something to do with it. I mean, I grew up in Boston and, if you've never been to Boston, it's kind of a harsh place. There's a lot of people there who talk a lot of shit. You know, it's a very aggressive town. And I learned how to do standup from boxing gyms and martial arts places. That's really where I learned that I was funny. I would make those guys laugh. It's just a bunch of hard men and if you can make them laugh, if you can hang with them, then everything else is relatively easy. 

To talk about fighting ... Kimbo Slice is big shit down here. But his performance on the Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights was sorta lukewarm. Do you think he's got the skills for a legit MMA career? 

Well, he's working on it. He originally comes from a street-fighting background. So, I mean, props to him for just trying in the first place. It takes a lot of guts and balls to expose himself to the world like that. I like that guy. I'm a fan. You know, I think he certainly showed something in his last fight with Houston Alexander. Houston's a really respected guy and Kimbo kicked his ass. He did a lot of it with grappling, took him to the ground, beat him up on the ground, suplexed him. You know, I'm impressed that he's out there doing the right thing. He's training at American Top Team now, which is the very best gym in the country in my opinion. 

There's that comedy cliché that funny people are unhappy people. Is that bullshit? 

Yeah, they use it for all artists. I mean, the reason a lot of people want to be performers in the first place is 'cause they didn't get enough attention when they were young. And so they have this extreme need to overcompensate as an adult. Then, once they become famous, they get used to that and they're still not happy and then they become fucking miserable. The only time they're having fun is when they're onstage. But it is just a cliché. 

I mean, as a martial artist and a person who meditates a lot and a person who explores his own mind and consciousness, you have a personal responsibility to recognize these deficits in your own thinking and correct them and nagivate around them and manage your own consciousness. And that's something that a lot of people don't do. Eventually things can get away from you and spiral out of control and your life becomes chaos. That doesn't seem like fun to me, so I spend a lot of time trying to make sure that I manage my own mind and my own thinking. 

Yeah, the consciousness issue is interesting. You support the use of cannabis and DMT, right? Do you think those substances should be legalized? 

I think all substances should be legalized. Who is one adult to tell you that you can or can't do certain things? Poison is legal. You can go to the store and buy rat poison. If you want to kill yourself, it's easy. You know, if you can go buy a gun and shoot yourself in the head, why can't you go out and buy DMT and explore your consciousness? Why can't you go out and buy mushrooms? With most of the non-toxic stuff like mushrooms and cannabis, you don't have to worry at all about someone overdosing. It's not a concern. It doesn't happen. I mean, to overdose on marijuana ... You'd be the first person in human history. It's never happened before. And you'd have to take so much that it's physically impossible. I mean, the LD50 rate for marijuana is something like 1500 pounds. 

So why is it illegal? It's illegal because of economics. It's illegal because there's a lot of other companies, like pharmaceutical companies and the like, that are threatened by marijuana being legal. The alcohol companies are threatened by it. The Partnership for a Drug-Free America laughingly received millions of dollars from alcohol and tobacco companies, and still receives money from prescription drug companies. Prescription drugs are some of the biggest problems in schools today. Kids are snorting OxyContin ... You know that shit Rush Limbaugh was doing? It's very, very common. You know why? Because they can get ahold of it. They're getting it from their parents and chopping it up and snorting it. I mean, that stuff is way more dangerous than marijuana. Way more. 

OK. Last question: If there was a mixed martial arts version of Celebrity Boxing, whose ass would you wanna kick? 

I don't think you should fight people that you hate. It's a tremendous waste of your energy. And, you know, I don't pay much attention to celebrities. My life is not really celebrity-oriented. I don't see them that much. I don't care. My life is just life. There are a bunch of human beings on the planet and the ones that people are paying attention to because there's a camera on them aren't necessarily the most interesting.  

Joe Rogan performs as part of the South Beach Comedy Festival this Friday, January 22. Lincoln Theater, 541 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets cost $35. Visit southbeachcomedyfestival.com.

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