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all words: Brandan McCusker

Joe Rogan is a man of few inhibitions. Whether it be ultra-crude sex jokes, lengthy discussions of drug experiences, or relentlessly emasculating the Plain White T’s, he constantly skirts the line between offensive and ultra offensive. Friday night’s show at the Warner Theatre was no exception.

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If you’re like me, then you have always wondered why exactly it was that Joe Rogan rose to popularity. You may remember him from the TV series Hardball or NewsRadio in the 90’s, but more likely you have fond memories of Rogan forcing contestants to eat revolting concoctions and perform treacherous stunts on NBC’s Fear Factor.

Nonetheless, Rogan’s fame has never seemed quite deserved. This would be hard to tell though, by the nearly full house of mostly mid-20’s to mid-30’s crowd who were literally in hysterics for both Rogan and his opener Ari Shaffir (i.e. YouTube’s “Amazing Racist”).

Rogan’s comedy never rose above the level of pervasive jokes concerning blowjobs and copious weed smoking the whole night. Nothing was sacred, even his own toddler daughter’s sexuality. When you have a 44-year old UFC-host describing his “price” for fellating another man, you begin to seriously question your ability to plan for a great Friday night (this made most apparent by the plethora of couples who left mid-show in disgust).

Joe Rogan - Color 2 - 2009 - Photo Credit Joshua Heges

Yes, Rogan went too far and no, he did not talk about DMT. Yet still, there is something that is impossibly lovable about Joe Rogan. Rarely will you see a performer so adept at taming a crowd and keeping his hecklers under control. In fact, the last 30 to 40 minutes of Rogan on stage was literally spent as a question-and-answer comedy show of sorts, complete with all sorts of embarrassing moments. From an audience member being booed off stage while trying to recount his favorite Rogan joke to another attendee gifting the comedian a joint on stage, there was no shortage of hilarity despite the awkward format.

For a man so clearly self-absorbed into a world of drugged out self-adulation (he “admitted” to getting stoned before coming on stage), Rogan is not without some humanity. Buried beneath his tactless jokes were themes of enjoying life to the fullest and the deep impact that becoming a father had on his point of view. It’s almost difficult not to want to give Joe a handshake and a pat on the back by the end of his show.

Maybe Rogan’s brand of humor is crass, and maybe he doesn’t break any new barriers in the comedy world, but Joe Rogan is a true performer. I stand pleasantly surprised by the depth of Rogan’s comedy, and fervently await the new season of Fear Factor (that’s right, it’s coming back).