Joe Rogan: Talking Monkeys in Space Review

Few comedians have really gotten themselves out there like Joe Regan. He currently does color commentary for UFC fights and became a familiar face by hosting Fear Factor. You might not recognize his face out of context, but he's made a name for himself apart from his comedic persona, and if you didn't already know, the commentator/host persona and stand-up persona couldn't be more different. When allowed to go unhindered onstage, Rogan breaks down many walls in the name of advocating the legalization of marijuana or somewhat loose theories about the origin of man (I agree with the monkeys, but have questions about psychedelic mushrooms prompting the brain expansion – don't ask, just look it up).

We'll take a page from New York Magazine and measure Joe Rogan's general act on the Low Brow-High Brow/Funny-Unfunny matrix. Rogan wavers somewhere in the middle when it comes to the sophistication of his humor. Perhaps a bit lower. While he throws in interesting tidbits about the effects of drugs and the evolution of man, most of the act's content revolves around being high, masturbation, and cock jokes. Some might call it fratboy humor, somewhere on par with Dane Cook, the occasional inclusion of something smart gives it a slight boost, as does the final 20 minutes where he turns his routine into a Q&A session about his life, career, and interests.

Before he hits the audience rapport, he shows off a wicked Dr. Phil impression. Other comedians have actually touched based on the very episode and issue Rogan covers here, but the color has been different each time so as of yet there's no need to complain. The episode in question sees Dr. Phil telling a woman that her husband masturbating to pictures of other women is just as bad as cheating. Whether you find his take on this topic (and many others) funny is going to depend largely on whether or not you agree with his stance (this isn't true of every comedian, but Rogan tends to go after more polarized topics, limiting his overall accessibility). If you haven't already guessed, Rogan thinks Dr. Phil's advice on the subject was moronic, if not almost criminal in its characterization of masturbation. Certainly, religion has never looked too kindly on the activity, which has been the basis for a large portion of society's views on the subject, but there is an undeniable sleaziness to Dr. Phil lecturing to a man on television on the issue with an audience filled with middle-age women cheering him on. It's a step above Jerry Springer stoking the fires of racist rage before bringing a Ku Klux Klan midget out before a predominately African-American audience. Rogan bashes Dr. Phil appropriately.

As mentioned earlier, Rogan's topics don't always stay in safe territory. Comedians like Jerry Seinfeld or Eddie Izzard cultivate large audiences by drawing comedic observations of the mundane. Even if you don't find all the material funny, it's never offensive. Rogan does away with that strategy adopting a “love it or hate it” attitude. He knows it limits his audience, but he makes it abundantly clear that he doesn't want the attention (at least for his stand-up) of anyone that doesn't also appreciate sex, marijuana, and masturbation.

To clarify this point, you get a taste of the people making up his Columbus audience when he lets fans ask him questions for 20 minutes. Questions range from his views on the UFC, to when he likes to smoke, to questions about whether or not other people in the audience will screw the person asking the question if they get them drunk enough. It's a fun time if you think the topics listed above are funny, but if you shrug at the thought and think it sounds sophomoric, you're right. But Joe Rogan doesn't care. He knows his audience.

DVD Bonus Features

The ultimate downside of stand-up comedy DVDs is that the main comedian always seems to promise his roadtrip buddies that he'll include them in the extras. Rogan does so in two here, one of which is an utterly pointless clip show revealing nothing in particular (“Talking Monkeys in Columbia”), while the other is Joe spending time with the comedians who travel with him on the road, whom he thinks are hilarious (“Behind the Scenes”). They aren't really, but I guess you could say they're a bunch of “characters”. The extras aren't really worth the time.

"Joe Rogan: Talking Monkeys in Space" is on sale March 30, 2010 and is not rated. Comedy. Written by Joe Rogan. Starring Joe Rogan.

Lex Walker • Editor

He's a TV junkie with a penchant for watching the same movie six times in one sitting. If you really want to understand him you need to have grown up on Sgt. Bilko, Alien, Jurassic Park and Five Easy Pieces playing in an infinite loop. Recommend something to him - he'll watch it.


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