Joe Rogan said that being an actor on a television show and hosting a game show slowed down his standup comedy career. Rogan, speaking on the March 17, 2021, episode of “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast with fellow comic Nate Bargatze, said he learned important lessons during his TV career.
Rogan told Bargatze he thinks comics need to work on their stand-up to get better at it and develop. “One of the things that happens to some people is they take detours, and they do other things, like television shows. And I’ve done that. And it does, it can, hamper your standup. Because you’re so concerned with your television show and you’re working on your television show all the time. Not that it’s a bad thing to complain about, it’s great to have a television show, but that takes away time from your standup.”
Rogan added. When I was doing ‘Fear Factor’ I used to think about that sometimes. I could be doing standup right now and instead I’m watching people eat animal dicks and this is not helping my act other than being able to make fun of ‘Fear Factor.’ But one thing it did do is it helped me appreciate it, now I know, ‘OK I’ve been on a sitcom, now I’ve been a host of a gameshow and these are both great jobs to get, but I know standup is better.’ Now I know.”
Rogan played Joe Garrelli on “NewsRadio” from 1995 to 1999 and was the host of “Fear Factor” from 2001 to 2006, before returning from 2011 to 2012. Other than appearances as himself and as a commentator for the UFC, Rogan has not returned to the small screen since leaving “Fear Factor.”
Rogan said he did standup while he was on TV and it didn’t go well. “The ‘NewsRadio’ thing was an interesting thing because when I did that, I really slacked off. That was long days, especially in the early days of ‘NewsRadio’ when we were trying to make it work right. Because sitcoms are complicated, trying to figure out what is and where the characters fit in. We had 12-hours day regularly.” Rogan said he wasn’t writing on “NewsRadio,” but the creator, Paul Simms, and his staff would let him write or change things about their characters.
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Rogan Told Bargatze He Bombed One Show While Working on ‘NewsRadio’ & Realized ‘I Am Falling Apart’
“You’re always working. And I was tired. So I’d go out and do a set but I didn’t write at all,” Rogan said about his experience with “NewsRadio.” “And the problem was I got to the point where my act was really flat, like I felt flat. And then I had one night where I bombed hard in front of a couple friends of mine. One of them was a writer and the other was a producer or something. And I just ate s***. And I realized, ‘Oh my God, I am falling apart.’ Either I’m going to stop doing standup, which wasn’t an option or I’m going to get to work. Because I knew that I had slacked off. I knew I hadn’t put any work into it. I knew I would go on stage without thinking about my act until the moment I got on stage. I was doing no preparation, I was just lazy, because I had another job.”
Bargatze said he has experienced something similar while writing for TV shows. “When you write a show it’s just much different than writing standup. So you kind of think in a show world and you don’t come up with some stuff that would fit on stage. Your brain just kind of shifts. It’s such an interesting thing to balance out.”
Rogan said being on “NewsRadio” helped “a little” with selling tickets to the shows, but, “I wasn’t famous. I was like one of eight people on a sitcom that wasn’t doing well. Nobody was watching that show. It was very rare that I got recognized anywhere, very rare. … It wasn’t like anybody knew my name. I had been doing standup for 10 years, I was reasonably funny, and then I did my first Warner Brothers thing in 1999, did an album, but then when I got on ‘Fear Factor’ it was more of the same s***, it was like I was so busy. Those years I was on ‘Fear Factor’ I didn’t really tour that much.”
Rogan added, “After ‘Fear Factor’ I got really dedicated.” He said his experiences performing in front of small crowds in New York City and elsewhere also shaped his career.
“It’s like if you’re an athlete you’ve got to cross-train. You’ve got to run every now and then, sometimes you have to lift weights. I think for a comic, it’s great to do a big crowd, but it’s also great to do almost no one,” Rogan told Bargatze. “I think it’s good. I think it teaches you how much of your act is bulls***.”
Bargatze asked Rogan if he wished he could go back to performing in front of crowds that don’t know him. Rogan replied, “I think you’ve just got to be happy. There’s no sense in wanting something you’re not going to get. … They paid money to see you, maybe they’re a little skeptical.”
Rogan Said He Doesn’t Think He’ll Ever Go Back to Working on a TV Show
Rogan recently said he doesn’t think he will return to a career in TV, other than his work as a commentator for the UFC. He told filmmaker Tiller Russell in March 2021, “I like this. I’m busy and I’m happy. I like what I’m doing. I love watching television, but I would never go back to a game show.” Rogan then hesitated and added, “well, never say never. Who knows, one day I might just decide it’s fun. But I don’t think so, I think this is better.”
Rogan told Russell, “to me it’s more interesting, because I can kind of choose who I talk to. … I love talking to all kinds of different people. And the beautiful thing about a podcast is there’s no real structure. There’s no rule like ‘you can only talk to these kind of people.’ There’s no rules. Initially if you looked at it on paper it would have never made any sense. You’re going to sometimes be high as f*** talking to comedians, sometimes talk to scientists, sometimes talk to mixed martial arts fighters, sometimes talk to physicists, sometimes talk to doctors and nutritionists. It doesn’t make any sense.”
Rogan said putting out several shows a week has made him successful. “I grind,” Rogan said. “I do a lot of them.” He said he’s asked why he does so many podcasts, and Rogan said he responds, “First of all because there are a lot of cool people to talk to. And second of all that’s how you get people addicted. You don’t get people addicted with one a month. You drop four a week. And they’re like, ‘four a week? f*** that, that’s like a job.’ And I’m like, ‘yeah it’s a job, you’ve got to work.’ I like working.”
Rogan said, “one thing about this podcast that’s been insanely rewarding for me is that I can talk to so many people. Like how many times do you actually get to talk to interesting people for hours at a time without being interrupted? It doesn’t happen. So for me it’s been this radical education. Sometimes it’s not educational at all, it’s just fun. So it’s been feeding my brain all this information.”