The Final Chapter of our Chat with Joe Rogan
Dread Central winds up our intensive interview with the ubiquitous Joe Rogan and digs deep in an attempt to find out about his wild and woolly messageboard, his popular podcast, influencing impressionable minds, and all of the things the future holds for the talented stand-up comedian.
While this installment is the lightest yet in terms of horror content, we didn't want to shortchange those readers who have been following along with Joe's thoughts, so without further ado... Here's the third and final chapter of our chat with Mr. Rogan. In case you missed them, click here for Part One and here for Part Two.
It should be said one last time that the following interview includes some of the notorious “7 words” George Carlin warned you about.
DC: I wanted to talk to you about your messageboard. I’ve been a member there for seven or eight years, give or take, and I am fascinated by it. Not only because it is such an eclectic collection of people, but it’s become my number one news source… as weird as that sounds. [laughs]
JR: Mine, too.
DC: It’s a place where I can get instantaneous spin in both directions. And… where else can you get hard news backed up against World Star Hip Hop videos? [laughs] So, how did it all come about? Was it an organic thing?
JR: Yeah, completely organic. It was started in 1998. It was some free EZ Board software. Andrew, the guy who created my website and has created every single incarnation of it except the latest one, said, “Hey, maybe we should have a little messageboard where we could all post shit.” We were thinking it would be like ten people, and that’s what it was at the time. A lot of it was the guys we played Quake with. It was just all of our friends online, just a small handful of people. Then, somehow or another, it got bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger, and before you knew it, there were thousands of people… and before you knew it there were a million posts… and before you knew it there were MILLIONS of posts. And it just got crazier and crazier. It’s one of the weirdest things I’ve ever experienced.
DC: I’d been online for a long time when I found it and was pretty hardcore… You know, getting in people’s faces, “flaming,” etc., but when I encountered your board, that was the one place I felt like I needed to step back and lurk a little. I just found almost everyone there not only really funny, but really smart and well informed. They were also amazingly adept at taking someone’s argument and pulling it apart. Almost immediately I was hooked and being there got me into your comedy and your outlook, and I’ve been there ever since. That said, I can’t help but feel like it’s also a huge promotional tool for you.
JR: I guess so, but I very rarely use it as a promotional tool. The Board is pretty much The Board. I think if I went on there and was like, “Hey, guys… come support me and vote for me on this and buy my shit and do this here and do that there…” If that was everything I did… Even on Twitter, every now and then, I’ll say, “Hey, I’m performing here” or “Hey, this is going on” and I’ll get all these people saying, “How about using Twitter for something other than marketing?!” People just douche on you left and right over stuff like that. If I had done that, I don’t think The Board would have become what it is. I think what it is is… it’s The Board. It’s its own thing. I mean, it has my name on it and I guess I have to take some sort of responsibility because I’ve nurtured this environment where you can post photoshopped pictures of people with dicks in their mouths and the next post is about the Large Hadron Collider and its effects on humanity and then right after that is a post about how many dicks has Sasha Grey sucked in her life and it’s a real debate… [laughs]
It’s the strangest board ever. It’s like religion and philosophy and psychedelic drugs, but really what it mirrors more than anything are my own personal interests and my mind and the personal interests and minds of like-minded people. That’s what we’re getting at the place. There are so many people who think so very, very similarly and all of us together are in this group and we found sort of a home where a bunch of other people think that way as well and we can meet up online. There are a lot of silly people on The Board. There are a lot of people who are Conspiracy Theory people. There are a lot who are hardcore vegetarians and vegans and they want to argue about shit. There are people who are Conservative and they want to argue about Liberals. There’s just a lot of shit going on that is not necessarily along the lines of how I think, but just having them all there in this sort of big group hive, I think it provides a chance for everyone to evolve and see all these different people’s experiences and different points of view and get a feeling for it. It’s just a very, very rare environment, very rare opportunity we have to have all that together in one meeting spot where you kind of know what you’re going to get. You’re going to get freedom. You don’t know what you’re going to get as far as topics. Any day you can click on Shit Talking 101 and be blown away by some new, weird revelation, discovery, or scientific innovation. There’s always something going on or someone who has a point of view that you disagree with or agree with or someone who posts a video that makes you rethink your whole life. That happens EVERY DAY on that board.
DC: What I find interesting is that without too much intervention by you or the moderators there’s an equilibrium that gets established. The community supports the people who make good points but also squashes down the radical goofballs. And, in the end, if you read everything and you keep in touch, you get a really good barometer of how people are thinking… especially people who are pretty smart. I think even the “dumbest” person on your board could probably be the “smartest” person on somebody else’s board, you know?
JR: It’s intimidating and I think it keeps really, really dumb people from expressing their opinion because they read all the shit that people talk about. A perfect example… there was a recent thread where two guys were having a debate on the pros and cons of growth hormone therapy and they started getting into all these fuckin’ crazy details about science and it got really heavy. Really intense, intelligent discussions, breakdowns, and scientific analysis… and I thought, “What a weird board this is!” It’s such a weird place that such a really deep and intelligent discussion can take place right next to “scat porn.” You can literally scroll down to the next post in that same thread and see a guy on his keyboard covered in shit with a log of shit in his mouth. [laughs] There’re no rules, man. It’s like your mind. At any moment you can be standing next to some old lady and the thought comes into your mind, “I could, if I wanted to, kick this old lady into traffic.” You don’t do it, but that thought is there and it’s like that on this board. Somebody might be debating the UFC and out of that – BOOM! – there’s a photo of two guys fuckin’ each other in the mouth. [laughs] It’s like, “Why is that there?!?” [laughs] I don’t know, but that’s how it goes there.
DC: I see the board and your involvement on Twitter and the podcast you do as part of this new model of interacting with one’s audience. Your access to your audience is amazing and you’re really free about it and you’re really giving in how you give out information. I’m now seeing other people in the public eye adopting what you’ve been doing for a long time. Did you at any time say, “This is the way of the future. This is the way that we ought to go” or was it, again, more organic?
JR: Totally organic. The Twitter thing was organic as well. I’m looking at my Twitter right now and here’s this guy that has an Albert Hoffman/Alex Grey portrait as his avatar and he’s letting me know that there’s a NOVA special on fractals coming up. Then there are people from the UK who want to know when I’m coming to do a show there, and then there’s another one that wants to talk about some shit that’s going down with the Wikileaks papers that are being released about the Iraq War. It’s really very similar to the messageboard. I post things that I find interesting. I post up things on my Twitter that, to me, are intriguing and things that I think are something I would like to know about if somebody else had this information… Show me! Tell me what’s up. Here’s a study on psilocybin at John Hopkins Medical Center about how psilocybin leads to spiritual realizations. So I put this up on my Twitter, and then all these people thank you and they retweet it. It really becomes just like the messageboard. It’s very, very similar. But there are more people on my Twitter than are even on the messageboard. I mean, how many members are there? I think it only has forty-five thousand or something like that, but my Twitter has like two hundred plus. So it’s really the same thing. It’s like “build it and they will come.”