Joe Rogan loves Houston, and not just because of the abundance of strip joints -- although that does contribute to his affection. "More strip clubs than gas stations, that's my line," the comedian says. Closer to his heart are some of the city's late, great outlaw comics, folks like Sam Kinison and Bill Hicks, who've influenced Rogan and his stand-up style. "It's a very smart, take-no-bullshit sort of a city," believes Rogan, who recorded his first comedy album, I'm Gonna Be Dead Someday , at Houston's Laff Stop.
While TV audiences mostly know the 33-year-old Rogan from his role as Joe, the eccentric technician from the eccentric, short-lived NBC sitcom NewsRadio, the Jersey-born, Boston-bred comic has earned a cult rep as a stand-up whose material can best be described as acerbic, outspoken, vulgar, coarse, offensive, aggressive, volatile, dangerous, bitter, confrontational, cynical, sick, vile, blunt, disgusting -- is there anything we've left out? "I don't know," says Rogan. "Maybe funny."
Rogan's brand of funny can be properly defined with his two most popular bits: "Tigers Fucking," in which he graphically recounts seeing two large cats mate on the Discovery Channel and actually becoming envious. ("No flowers, no phone call, no bullshit!") Then there's the H-town favorite, his tour-de-force dramatization of the final moments in the life of octogenarian oil tycoon and Anna Nicole Smith hubby J. Howard Marshall II. ("I believe it's time -- for a rim job! I'm not dead yet!")
"The best stand-up comedy is your expression and interpretation of life around you," explains Rogan. "It's all depending on who you are as to what that interpretation and expression is gonna be. So who am I? I'm a testosterone-filled young guy who doesn't have a day job and does whatever he wants and lives kind of a wild life. And that's why my comedy comes out that way."
Despite his never-ready-for-prime-time persona, the producers behind the upcoming reality program Fear Factor thought Rogan had the kind of brazen wit needed to host their show. Premiering in June on NBC, Fear Factor is a game show in which people subject themselves to embarrassing, possibly psyche-scarring stunts for cash. (Think Jackass for dollars.) "It is the mother of all reality shows," exclaims Rogan. "We have people in their underwear we've tied up to the bottom of an elevator shaft, and we poured 400 rats on them. We put a padded suit on people and made them run across the finish line, and we let a trained attack dog loose on them. It's insane, but it's really fun."
It is somewhat surprising to find a no-bullshit kind of guy like Rogan going the Jeff Probst route. "I'm down with the freak shows," says Rogan, simply. "I'm down with people humiliating themselves and making fools of themselves for my enjoyment. I love watching people do stupid shit." Besides, the more stupid shit people do, the more likely it'll end up in his act. He has a lot of things he wants to riff on for Houston audiences. "I got a bunch of new shit on racism, interracial porn," he declares.
The well never runs dry, does it?