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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Joe Rogan interview

I'm getting behind on posting transcripts of my phone interviews. Better get started on getting caught up. Here's on I did with Joe Rogan back in June. It was the second time I've spoken with Joe. This was pretty wide-ranging, if I recall. We talked a fair bit about UFC, which I know next to nothing about. I know a bit more now. What else did we talk about? His early days doing standup in Boston. Interesting that he describes the scene there now as "dead" and "horrible." He talked about discipline and pity-parties, his podcast, and conspiracies. He doesn't mince words. But that's Rogan! Read on.

Joe Rogan 

June 2, 2014

"I'm just very fortunate in my life that I've been in the right place at the right time almost always." 
– Joe Rogan

Guy MacPherson: I spoke to you seven years ago. Then you were playing clubs. I saw you another year at the casino theatre. And now look at you: at the Orpheum.
Joe Rogan: Crazy.

GM: Movin' on up.
JR: (laughs) Sort of.

GM: Sort of?
JR: I mean, it's definitely a bigger place. But it's all the same. Honestly.

GM: Yeah, it is, but it is nice to see that level of support you get, and that it continues to grow.
JR: That's nice. No, it's definitely fun. It's nice to see it grow. There's something cool about doing clubs, as well, though. I enjoy doing big theatres, like the Orpheum, but I like doing clubs, too.

GM: Clubs are great. But just from a numbers point of view, you gotta like the big theatre. You're never going to do the big arenas like some comics do, are you?
JR: Would I ever? I don't know. I'd have to really think about it. I mean, I definitely would but I will still always do clubs. I still do clubs now. I still book certain weekends on the side when I need to do a smaller venue so I'll do a 200-seater or a 300-seater. Regularly in town, in L.A., when I work on material, I'll do, like, 150-seaters and even smaller places.

GM: I was thinking about your multi-faceted career. In Hollywood, it seems like performers get pigeon-holed. I don't know if it's the public or the industry that can't accept people doing different things once they know them as one thing. But you've managed to go from sitcoms, reality TV, standup, sports commentator, podcaster. Is it that you just do it?
JR: Yeah, I just do it. I've just been really lucky in a lot of ways.

GM: Have you heard throughout the years that you've got to stick to one thing?
JR: Yeah, I have heard that but I've heard it from people I didn't trust, fortunately. So I just sort of kept doing my own thing. I've been the type of person that, whether it's reckless disregard for other people's advice or blind faith in my own instincts. I've always kind of chosen my own path and fortunately I've been very fortunate in a lot of ways – I've just been right. I was correct and they were wrong. Whether it's things like Mixed Martial Arts, doing commentary for the UFC, when I first started doing it, people used to tell me that it was going to ruin my career in show business.

GM: Really?
JR: Oh, yeah. Absolutely.

GM: Just commentating on it?
JR: Yeah, just being a part of it. Being a part of it was like I was somehow involved with something that was seedy, distasteful.

GM: I guess because you came in on the ground floor with it, I guess.
JR: Yeah. I came in when it was in the basement. When I was involved, it wasn't even on cable television. You could only get it on satellite. It was small casinos gathered throughout the south of the US. It was very underground. I was the post-fight interviewer in 1997. Back then, the UFC was nothing like it is now. There were very few high-level athletes, there were small venues. Worldwide recognition was virtually nil.

GM: What did you see in that you thought it would become something? Or did you even care that it would get big; you just liked it?
JR: I thought it could get big if the right people got behind it. I have a long background in martial arts. Martial arts sort of defined me as a person; made me who I am. It was that that I saw in it. I saw this new sport that was coming along that would give these martial artists a professional venue which didn't exist before. So that's what I found intriguing about it, that there was something finally. Someone came along that had put it together and let us find out what martial techniques were effective. Because before that, there was a lot of speculation about what would work, what wouldn't work. We'd always wanted something along those lines. It was just that before the UFC came along, nobody had ever put it together. I just found that fascinating so I pursued it. But I was really fortunate that it actually became as popular as it did.

GM: Are all martial artists, generally speaking, in favour of mixed martial arts?
JR: Yeah. Yeah, pretty much. Mixed martial arts is sort of the testing ground. Without that, there was a lot of fuckery before. There was a lot of shit that people thought was good but was useless. And there was a lot of people that were pretending that they were doing some high level ancient martial arts that were deadly and super effective but really they were just, like, cult leaders and charlatans. Crazy people.

GM: You mean it was more for show and you wouldn't put it to the test of actually fighting someone?
JR: Yes. There was a lot of people that never put it to the test. And there was a lot of people that thought they were really good and meanwhile what they were doing was just completely useless. So we learned a lot about what actually worked in hand-to-hand combat. We learned a lot. The line that I always use is that martial arts have evolved more in the 20 years since the UFC was invented than the 20,000 years before. That's true. It's absolutely true. Martials arts have evolved more in my lifetime than any other time in the history of the human race and it's directly attributed to mixed martial arts, both the UFC and the worldwide variance that sort of sprouted off after the UFC, like Pride. Things along those lines.

GM: So they're mutually beneficial, the two forms.
JR: Yeah, not just mutually beneficial but incredibly important. Without traditional martial arts, we wouldn't have these techniques, and without the UFC, there would be no refinement of these techniques. And then the new techniques that have been added over the past couple of decades have also substantially changed the landscape.

GM: Have you ever done mixed martial arts?
JR: I've never fought in mixed martial arts. I was a former taekwondo champion. I kickboxed for a while. And I've been training in martial arts since I was a young man. I'm a black belt in taekwondo and I have two black belts in jujitsu.

GM: A lot of sports fans when they watch any sport can envision themselves in the game. How do you think you'd do in your prime?
JR: Who knows? I'd have to compete to find out. Anything other than that is just pure speculation. That's what competing is all about. There's a lot of people that look like they would be really good fighters, that seem like they're tough, that have techniques that they can execute when no one's threatening them that look impressive, but how do they do in actual competition? You don't really know until you throw it all into the fire. And I never did that with mixed martial arts. I did it with kickboxing and I did it with taekwondo and I was successful with those things.

GM: Is it because it hit when you were older?
JR: It wasn't around when I was fighting. I retired from fighting when I was 22. The UFC came around several years later and I was already doing a bunch of other different things: I was acting and doing standup comedy and I had a career. I had thought about competing if maybe everything went wrong and I found myself looking for something to do for a living. Maybe I would have done that. But fortunately for me it didn't. Fortunately for me, also, I got involved in it at a different level – instead of as a competitor, as a commentator.

GM: Maybe you wouldn't say this, but you must be partly responsible for its success.
JR: Maybe a very small percentage. Very small. I think it would have been big without me. I'm very fortunate that I became connected to it and that people associate me and my voice and my commentary with some great fights, but it would have been great without me.

GM: You're doing the one up here the day after your Orpheum gig. It's great that you get to combine both your loves in one trip.
JR: Oh, yeah, yeah, it's one of the cool things about the UFC. I come and I do the weigh-ins, which are on a Friday, so I usually do a show that night and then the next day is the fights. So it's very, very fortunate in that respect.

GM: And spend some time in Vancouver. I know you like it here.
JR: Love it there.

GM: When you retired from martial arts at 22, is that when you started standup or were you doing it at bit at the same time before?
JR: I was doing both at the same time and I realized I couldn't do that. I was doing standup. I started standup at 21 and I was fighting at the same time and it was too much. There were too many different things going on. Plus I was working. I had to work to try to make a living.

GM: Day job?
JR: Yeah, I had a couple of day jobs. I was teaching martial arts – I was teaching at Boston University actually. I was teaching taekwondo there. I delivered newspapers. I worked for a private investigator. I had a bunch of different jobs outside of just trying to do standup comedy. I realized somewhere along the line that if I was really going to do standup, there was no way I was going to be able to do it and compete at the same time because competing just requires too much of your energy. You have to be fully 100 percent immersed and committed to it otherwise it's really dangerous. It's really dangerous even if you're fully committed to it but if you kind of half-ass it, you can really get fucked up. That's sort of where I found myself.

GM: And comedy's a little dangerous in a different way if you're not committed to it.
JR: Very much so. Comedy, if you're not committed to it, you wind up bombing on stage. It's emotionally dangerous.

GM: You get beat up emotionally.
JR: Yeah!

GM: All those day jobs you had kind of sums you up. You're still so spread out. You have so many interests.
JR: Yes. I have a lot of interests. I've just been very fortunate that I've been able to take those interests and turn them into occupation.

GM: You started in Boston, right?
JR: Yes, that's where I started.

GM: Boston had a great comedy scene at that time. Do you think that's what led you to comedy and if you were based in some other city maybe you wouldn't have started? Or was it something you always wanted to do?
JR: It certainly helped. Like I said, again, I'm just very fortunate in my life that I've been in the right place at the right time almost always. The place to be in the 1980s, when standup comedy boom was on, was Boston. Amazing, amazing place. There were so many comedy clubs. There were five comedy clubs on one block at one point in time.

GM: Seriously?
JR: Yup. Yeah, a place called Warrenton Street. There was five different clubs on one block. It was an incredible place.

GM: And could you play all of them?
JR: Yeah, you could play all of them. Yeah, they didn't have, like, bans where they kept people from playing other places. You basically could play everywhere.

GM: And what is it like there now in the comedy scene?
JR: Dead. It's horrible. There's one comedy club and it's got a shitty sound system and people always complain about it. There's little satellite rooms outside. The local comics, there's no one that they talk about like they used to talk about before. These local guys would be treated with all this respect. You'd go to Boston and you'd face all these local killers, these up-and-coming hungry, creative guys. You don't see that anymore. The scene has dried up. Dried up for a bunch of reasons, but one of them was the fault of the very comedians themselves because they stopped being creative, they stopped writing material. They started resting on their laurels. They would just use the fact that they were comedians to party and have a good time and that's sort of what they did with their lives instead of pursue it as a discipline. I think they also got stuck staying in Boston. They never ventured outside of town and they got soft. That's what happened. So there's lessons to be learned there as a young comedian. There's pitfalls that you have to make sure you don't fall into, that I saw a lot of other comics sort of ruin their lives with.

"People become really jealous of other success. And it's ugly. It's a very ugly instinct. You have to try your best to avoid that ugly, ugly instinct. It's just a pitfall of human nature."
– Joe Rogan

GM: There are a few old-timers in Boston who've never moved out but are legendary.
JR: Yes. Without a doubt. Guys like Don Gavin, Steve Sweeney, Kenny Rogerson. Great, great, great comedians. But there was a sense of sadness, too, that those guys never got the recognition they deserved on a national scale. When I started out in 1988, the comics that were big back then, whether it was Lenny Clarke or Steve Sweeney or Gavin or this guy named Mike Donovan, I would put them up against any comedians in the world at that time. I think they were just fantastic comedians. But they stayed in town. They didn't go anywhere. They never spread their wings and because of that they sort of lost their feathers.

GM: Fear of success?
JR: No. I think they're just lazy. I think they were lazy and they were scared of taking the chance of not being the big fish anymore. They felt leaving the pond and going to the ocean was just too much. They also had a lot of regional material. There's a lot of comics in Boston that would consistently talk about being from Boston. Boston-style humour. That became a trap. So there was a lot of lessons to be learned for young guys like me and Bill Burr and a lot of those guys from that era who got to see these up-and-coming guys and the mistakes that they made.

GM: You and Bill started out around the same time?
JR: I was a little bit ahead of Bill. I was leaving at the time when he was just coming up. But all those guys in that era, there were windows of about three or four years that you consider yourself in the same era as a guy. So in that sense we're kind of the same era.

GM: I guess you see both sides in your business. But you might see a guy and have one opinion of him and then they just blossom and get hugely successful. And then others fall by the wayside.
JR: Yeah, it's very important to be around other successful people. Not just successful but inspiring. I like watching a great comic because it makes me want to write. It gives me fuel. It's like added wood to my oven. It makes me fired up. I think that's a huge part of this art form, being inspired by others. The worst aspects of people's personalities when it comes to creative endeavours is jealousy and vanity. There's a few different things that can kind of become pitfalls and traps. And a lot of comedians, especially in the beginning, they operate under a famine mentality. Like, they'll see someone come up with a joke and instead of being inspired, they get jealous that they didn't come up with the joke. Or they get angry that it wasn't them that performed and had the audience dying laughing. Because you can fall into these ego traps. So for comedians it's very important to not fall into those ego traps and it's very important to be inspired by others. And when you do that, then all these comedians, instead of becoming these people you're competing against, they become not just your friends but your allies and they become these sort of power stations that you can get inspiration from. And the momentum of their acts and their writing fuels you as well and it becomes a wonderful place. It becomes amazing. And you get excited when you see good comedy instead of getting bummed out.

GM: Is that something you have to teach yourself? Because it is a human emotion to feel a bit of jealousy. Do you have to fight against it and talk yourself through it?
JR: Yes. It's a discipline. You have to learn it. It's a very important thing to learn. Not just for that but for your life in general. People make these bad mistakes when it comes to those things and that type of thinking – famine mentality and selfish mentality – can ruin your life. It can absolutely ruin your life. Because you can take things that would have been fantastic, inspirational moments and turn them into these horrible, selfish, self-centred pity-parties. And that happens to a lot of artists, whether it's singers in rock'n'roll bands or whether it's comedians or illustrators, artists, painters. People become really jealous of other success. And it's ugly. It's a very ugly instinct. You have to try your best to avoid that ugly, ugly instinct. It's just a pitfall of human nature.

GM: It sounds like your martial arts training helped you in that discipline.
JR: Unquestionably. Without a doubt. Without a doubt it shaped the way I approach that aspect of comedy and creative endeavours in general. You have to look at what is empowering and how can you turn a situation that is sort of inherently negative to the untrained eye or to the narrow mind and turn it into a source of inspiration and fuel. And not only that, it benefits all these people around you, as well, because people imitate their atmosphere and they learn from other successful behaviour. So when other people that are around you, other young comics, see that you support other comedians and that you pump people up and you're complimentary, there wasn't a lot of that coming up when I was coming up. There wasn't a lot of really complimentary guys and guys who would take really funny young guys on the road with them and try to give them help. I've made a big point of doing that in my career. It's been very important to me to take up-and-coming young comedians and encourage them and promote them.

GM: I know you're bringing that up-and-comer Bryan Callen with you.
JR: Yeah, Bryan Callen and Tony Hinchcliffe, who's hilarious.

GM: I just saw Bryan here at the MIX a month or so ago.
JR: He's very funny, isn't he? Bryan's also one of my best friends.

GM: And you've brought Ari Shaffir in the past.
JR: Yeah, I've brought Ari in the past, I've brought Duncan [Trussell] in the past. I bring the guys that I think are the best guys. There's a lot of comedians that bring really bad opening acts and the reason why they do that is they don't want to be threatened. They'll have someone open for them who's really mediocre. Very low level, not good. And the audience has to sit through this nonsense for 20 minutes and then when the comedian comes out who's the headliner, he looks like a hero because the audience is tired and exhausted and they've seen this stupid, fucking comedian go on these rambling diatribes for 20 minutes, and it makes a comedian who's really good look so much better.

GM: It's those petty jealousies again.
JR: Yeah, it's just weak. And it gives the audience a bad show. Because of that, the people that you love that come to see you, your fans, without them you're nothing, and then you're tricking them. You're giving them a shitty show. And you're only doing it because of your own petty ego. I bring Joey Diaz on the road with me. I can't bring him to Canada because he has a felony in armed robbery (laughs) and kidnapping. He's a former drug addict. A madman. But he's the funniest guy that's ever walked the face of the Earth. And I bring him with me on the road. Because I feel like when I'm with a really funny guy, it makes me funnier. I'm not worried that somehow or other he's going to take away from me. I think he adds to me. I think all these guys add to you. They inspire me and I think we all fuel each other.

GM: It also helps that you like hanging out with them.
JR: Yes. That's also a big part of it. It helps when you're on the road. You don't feel lonely. You enjoy your time together.

GM: It must be round if there's a guy whose company you really enjoy but you don't think he's the funniest guy.
JR: Yeah, that's rough. But it's whether or not they have potential. I've taken guys on the road with me early in their career where I would see them and they had something. They had a spark and I would help them: bring them in front of large crowds, get them in front of better audiences. That's another real problem for young comedians is actually getting a good crowd. Because when you first start out, you have to do a lot of open mics. And open mics are wildly variable as far as what kind of an audience is going to be there. You could have the worst crowds imaginable or really good crowds, but it's very rare that you get a good one. And they're never set up correctly. The comic never knows who's going on before them, you never know what's happening in the audience. You never get, like, a nice, packed house So I would take these guys and I would bring them on the road with me and they would have a chance to perform in front of a nice, packed house.

GM: Makes a difference.
JR: Yeah! Sometimes for the good and sometimes for the bad. Sometimes it exposes flaws in your act and you get to see comics work through that. I really did get to see that. I got to see those guys work through those dull spots and become real professionals.

GM: How long have you been doing your podcast?
JR: Almost five years.

GM: It's always right up there, if not the top-rated comedy podcast. Do you listen to podcasts?
JR: I don't listen to too many other comedy podcasts, but I listen to history podcasts. I listen to Hardcore History, this Dan Carlin podcast. I listen to Radiolab, which is a podcast on curiosity. It's a fascinating podcast. It deals with all sorts of interesting subjects.

GM: Yours – and Bryan's, too – talks to authors and historians and academics. You talk serious topics. It's not comics sitting around trying to one-up each other.
JR: I talk about things that are interesting to me and I talk to people who I find fascinating, whether it's a comedian or an athlete or an author or a scientist or an educator, whatever the subjects may be. I talk to all sorts of people.

GM: Why has your podcast taken when so many don't? There are a lot of great ones out there that I don't listen to because who has time. But I think yours has a real point of view and you talk about serious subjects. Do you think that has something to do with it?
JR: I'm sure it does.

GM: There's some substance to it.
JR: Yeah, well, also there's sincerity to it. Like, I'm not pretending to be interested in these subjects; I'm actually sincerely interested in these subjects. And I only talk about things that I'm actually interested in. I don't need to have people on, so I don't have people on about subjects that I'm not curious about. If I find someone interesting, I ask them to be on the show. It doesn't always pan out. I've had some podcasts before that people didn't enjoy. But for the most part, it helps.

GM: And you go longer than a lot of podcasts, too.
JR: Yeah. I think that's important. Because I think when you talk to someone for 20 minutes, they can bullshit you for 20 minutes. It's very difficult to bullshit you for three hours.

GM: Three hours!
JR: Yeah, three hours in, you know who that guy is or that woman is. You know who they are. You get a deep sense of who they are as an individual. Whereas for 20 minutes you can dance and pretend.

GM: They're not all three hours, are they?
JR: Most of them are three hours.

GM: Once a week?
JR: No, several times a week.

GM: How do you find the time?
JR: I just do it. That's a part of my job. Now. It wasn't originally. Originally it was just something I did that was interesting and I would do it once a week. And I would only do it for like an hour at a time. And then it grew and became more popular and became more interesting. And then people started seeking me out once they found out it was getting x-amount of millions of downloads a week. People would start asking to have them on my show to promote things. That made it interesting because it started opening up the doors and started giving me this possibility to have access to a lot of fascinating humans.

GM: Do you do prep or does your natural curiosity take over?
JR: Yeah, there's some prep, depending on if I need it. There's certain guests that I don't need prep for because I'm well well immersed in whatever it is that they do. There's a guy I'm having on today, T.J. Dillashaw, who is the UFC bantamweight champion. Just won the title this weekend. I've worked out with this kid before. I know him very well. I have seen him fight throughout his career. I'm well immersed in his background so I don't need to do any prep on him. But I might still do it anyway just because I'm interested. And that's the beautiful thing about even the prep that I do, if I do prep for a show, well it's prep about something or a subject or a person that I'm fascinated with already. So it never feels like work. It always feels like I'm just feeding my curiosity.

"Look, if it was up to me, I would love for there to be a Bigfoot. I want Bigfoot to be real. If it was up to me, I would love for us to be visited by aliens. I want that to be real. But I can't prove that it is. Not only can I not prove that it is, it doesn't seem like it is. It seems like it's bullshit. So for me, it loses all of its appeal once I see bullshit."
– Joe Rogan

GM: Are you still questioning everything on TV?
JR: I don't know if we're going to do that anymore, quite honestly. I got out of doing the old show and now we're talking about doing a new revamped version of it that'll be more like a podcast than anything. The problem with that show – it's a real problem – the fundamental problem with those subjects is that a lot of them are just bullshit. Whether it's UFOs or whether it's psychics or whether it's Bigfoot, a lot of what you're seeing is just bullshit.

GM: But that's good that you expose it.
JR: In a way. But it's a lot of the same note over and over again. As far as my point of view, I found it to be kinda tired because I'm seeing over and over again these people that are just liars. Either they're liars or they're delusional. Those are the two options. They're kinda sad. So what am I gonna do? I'm going to make fun of sad, delusional people every week? I don't think that's fun. I was trying to get to the bottom of that stuff, whether it's Bigfoot or whether it's UFOs, I wanted to talk to people that had dedicated their life to these subjects and try to find out what was there. And unfortunately, over and over again, I found out that what was there was a bunch of people that had done a really poor job of objectively analyzing the evidence and were completely committed to this idea that may very likely incredibly suspect, that these ideas that these people had about whether it's Bigfoot or aliens or whatever it was, they didn't have these ideas because it made the most sense; they had these ideas because they were committed to this one possibility being correct instead of looking at it objectively and saying, 'This is what I believe to be true based on all of this evidence and despite what I want.' Look, if it was up to me, I would love for there to be a Bigfoot. I want Bigfoot to be real. If it was up to me, I would love for us to be visited by aliens. I want that to be real. But I can't prove that it is. Not only can I not prove that it is, it doesn't seem like it is. It seems like it's bullshit. So for me, it loses all of its appeal once I see bullshit.

GM: Were you ever in their shoes, so to speak, where you weren't being totally objective with yourself?
JR: Oh, most definitely. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. About all those same subjects, too. About UFOs, about psychics, about all that stuff. I think there's a certain amount of romanticism that's connected to these controversial subjects, these fascinating paranormal subjects. They're fascinating and romantically intriguing in a weird way. I think one of the things that human beings want a lot of the time, we want things to be something other than what they are. We want to be the person who exposes that. We want to be the person that sees through the haze and finds these things: 'Look, look! I showed you! It's right here!' Wow, you're a great explorer, you've figured this out, you've tapped into it. I don't know what that is. I have no idea what that is about people. I guess that curiosity is what led us to figure out fire and led us to form civilizations and all sorts of different things that people have done throughout the years because of the fact that we're so curious and fascinated.

GM: I'm a skeptic, too, but I love that stuff. 
JR: Yeah, I think it's good to be both of those things.

GM: I watched a documentary on Netflix the other night about people being abducted by aliens and I thought it was fascinating if were true but it just seems like complete bullshit.
JR: Well, it's not necessarily complete bullshit. The thing about the fascination that we have with these subjects is that there may very well be something to some of them. And that's one of the reasons why they're so intriguing. The problem with it, of course, is that it becomes the only option because it's a romantic option and that hint of possibility is sort of chased down ad nauseum. The really fascinating thing about alien abduction is that these researchers don't want to look at... What are the possibilities? The possibilities they look at is whether alien abduction is true, whether people are getting abducted by beings from other planets or dimensions, or whether or not they're making things up. So they chase it down, they find all these people with incredibly similar stories and they say, 'You know what? These stories are just too similar, too many people who are unconnected have very similar stories. I think it's real.' And that's the conclusion that the romantic people make. Bu what they don't take into account is human brain chemistry. All of these abductions happen in the middle of the night. All of them. They all happen while you're sleeping. Nobody gets abducted in the middle of the day while they're in the middle of working on a farm. They don't get abducted while they're sawing wood. They don't get abducted while they're building houses. They get abducted while they're sleeping. Well, when you're sleeping, your brain produces psychedelic chemicals. It produces chemicals that make dreams. The dream state, when you have these wild halucinations – you feel like you were chasing Godzilla and you were on a skateboard and there was hailstorms but instead of hail it was frogs – people have crazy dreams. What are those dreams? Those dreams are halucinations or your imagination influenced by psychedelic chemicals that are endogenous to the human brain. Your brain produces the chemical dimethyltryptamine, which is the most potent psychedelic drug known to man. And it produces it during heavy REM sleep. So what these people are experiencing, the reason why the same experience over and over again manifests itself is that it's the same drug. They're all on drugs! Your natural human drug.

GM: Then why aren't more people experiencing it?
JR: They are. They're just not remembering it. More people dream than not dream. People dream constantly. Do you know what it's like how when you dream and then you wake up from the dream and you can't remember it? It's like you remember it but it sort of slips through your hands and then later that day you're like, 'God, how did that dream go?' And you try to remember it. That is exactly the same as if you take dimethyltryptamine. If you take that psychedelic drug that the human brain produces – and it's also in thousands of different types of plants – that's one of the things that is mirrored in the experience. It's very difficult to remember the psychedelic trip. For whatever reason your brain knows how to get rid of that stuff.

GM: I would imagine that also the reasons why a lot of the stories are similar is because these people are interested in the topic and we've been hearing about the visitations, etc., for generations now. So people kind of know what aliens are supposed to look like and what happens when you're abducted.
JR: Yeah. Absolutely. They become iconic. Yeah, they become these archetypes that people see over and over again and look for.

GM: You guys never covered things like the 9-11 Truthers or the Kennedy assassination?
JR: No, no, no. I think that stuff's been beaten to death. And I wasn't interested in doing a conspiracy theory site because then you open yourself up to those fucking loons. Because we did do chemtrails, which is a really common conspiracy theory. These people believe the government's spraying the skies with artificial clouds. Ugh, it's so fucking taxing talking to these people! It's so dumb. It's just such a dumb theory from dumb people and it's exhausting having those conversations. Absolutely exhausting.

GM: Was there a backlash from them after the show?
JR: Oh, huge, huge backlash. Not just a backlash, just annoying, annoying morons accusing you of being in cahoots with the government, selling out, and all this nonsense. And it's just a simple lack of understanding of the process of a jet engine passing through haze. When jet engines go through various levels of condensation in the atmosphere, there's different results. And in that hazy state, like right before a cloud is formed, when a jet engine passes through that state, it creates clouds. There's moisture that's created by the engine and how it affects the atmosphere and high altitudes. It creates clouds.

GM: The contrail?
JR: Yeah. They vary. Some contrails dissipate quickly and some contrails linger. And the contrails that linger and look like clouds, they are clouds! That's what they are! They are clouds that are stimulated by jet engines. And does it have an effect on the environment? Yes. Does it have effect on the atmosphere? Yes. But it's not some insidious plot by the government to spray the skies. That's just idiots.

GM: Were some of the people telling you you're in cahoots with the government Joe Rogan fans?
JR: Sure, yes. Absolutely.

GM: But they still listen, I guess.
JR: I don't know! Some of them listen, some of them don't. Some of them really believe that the government got ahold of me and scared me and told me to lie about chemtrails. It's so stupid. These conversations are so dumb.

GM: You say you might revamp the show into something more like a podcast. How would it be different? Wouldn't you be talking to the same kinds of people?
JR: No. There were certain subjects that we covered in the show that were 100 percent real. Real and fascinating. Like transhumanism. This concept that human beings will eventually create something that allows us to live forever, whether to download our consciousness into some new artificial mind that we've created that lives in some sort of computer-created world, or whether it's an actual physical being: a robot or some sort of cyborg, some sort of an artificial tissue, a body that's created by some process. They've already figured out a way to create artificial blood cells – O-positive blood cells – that can work with a human body as a universal donor. They've already figured out a way to make artificial limbs. They've figured out a way to make carbon fibre hands that can move and you can manipulate them almost the same way you can do a human hand. And those are getting better all the time. It's just a matter of time, I think, before technology creates an artificial body. And the real question is can you take the human mind and download it into this immortal artificial body? Is that a possibility that we might actually see some day? Those kind of subjects are absolutely fascinating to me.

GM: More scientific.
JR: Yeah, more scientific. Just real things. Things that are real. There are things that are real that are way more interesting than Bigfoot. The concept of 'Questions Everything' was supposed to be about questioning things. And especially about questioning things that I actually find interesting. And somewhere along the line I think it lost its way when we started talking about chemtrails and things along those lines and it became things that I was just sort of debunking. And I'm not really interested in doing that anymore. I think those debunking things, it's kind of fun for a little while but you run into too many idiots. You run into too many fools that just do not want to see the truth. They are invested whole-heartedly in this illusion that they have created.

GM: I'm kind of thankful for them and for the debunkers, and just let them fight it out and maybe one day Bigfoot will come walking out of the forest.
JR(laughs) Well, there's something to be said for, just as a human nature experiment, just watching what people are attracted to and what people find fascinating. There's something to that.

GM: Because of the success of The Onion, there are these so-called satirical sites that aren't funny in the least and––
JR: Exactly. I know what you're going to ask me.

GM: About you killing a mountain lion, right?
JR: Yeah.

GM: You can't tell from reading these sites that they're satirical.
JR: Exactly. They're not satire; they're just lies. It's very annoying.

GM: The Onion does it so well they think they can do it, too. But they don't get that The Onion is actually funny.
JR: Not only is The Onion funny, The Onion's obviously funny.

GM: When you're the subject of it, does it just roll off your back?
JR: Yeah. I mean, it doesn't bother me, but, God, I hear about it every day. My own sister texted me to ask me if I killed a mountain lion. It's like, 'Are you crazy? Do you know how hard it is to kill a goddamn mountain lion?' You would think it's so stupid that people would just sort of know that it's dumb.

GM: I guess that's why the creators think it's obviously funny.
JR: There's another one that's out right now where people believe that Angelina Jolie was running for Congress. It's the same thing; it's just bullshit.

GM: You should go along with it.
JR: Nope. Not interested. Nope. No.

GM: Okay. Probably wise.
JR: Yeah, I don't have the time.

GM: You have good instincts when it comes to your career.
JR: Not only that, if you do that, then people are gonna suspect that you're lying about all sorts of other things, too.

GM: Yeah. Once again your instincts are right. Okay Joe, it was great talking with you.
JR: Great talking to you, too. Thank you very much, man. 

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