Joe Rogan is inescapable. He might be the most marmite celebrity going right now but he’s never far from the headlines.
Yet his career trajectory has been, um, varied to say the least. Most will know him from his insanely huge The Joe Rogan Experience podcast (where highly problematic statements are often made) but Rogan went on a long and strange journey to that point. Acting in 90’s sitcoms, commentating on martial arts, hosting game shows – he’s done the lot.
We thought we’d compile this handy timeline for you, charting Rogan’s rise to podcast fame and superstardom.
1995-1999: Starring in NewsRadio
It might not enjoy the legendary status of Friends or Frasier but NewsRadio was one of the biggest sitcoms back in the 90’s. Focusing on the lives of the staff of a New York City AM news radio station, a young Rogan played the station’s street-smart electrician and handyman Joe Garrelli. Interestingly, his character was known for espousing wacky conspiracy theories, really foreshadowing his podcast work. It could have been so different for Rogan though – Ray Romano was originally set to play Joe but didn’t connect with the rest of the cast (guess Everybody Loves Raymond was enough of a consolation).
2000: ‘Voodoo Punanny’
I mean, there really are no words for whatever this is. No words.
2001-2006: Hosting Fear Factor
In the early noughties, Fear Factor was one of the biggest TV game shows. How best to describe it? It was like a gruesome mix of Total Wipeout and The Amazing Race. Contestants competed in a variety of disgusting and difficult stunts to win the grand prize of $50,000. It wasn’t without controversy, attracting criticism for its use of animals in some stunts (Michael Scott clearly didn’t mind though). The show really increased Rogan’s exposure to a wider audience and he once said that he only took the hosting job on to find material for his stand-up comedy.
2002: The Ultimate UFC commentator
Although he started working for the mixed martial arts championship in 1997, it was five years later when he was fully hired as a colour commentator. So successful was Rogan in this role that he won the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Award twice for Best Television Announcer, and was named MMA Personality of the Year four times by the World MMA Awards. Some say he’s the greatest to ever do it. Clearly he’s always been able to command a room with his voice.
2005: (Trying to) fight Wesley Snipes
Don’t know about you but I wouldn’t choose to fight with Blade. That’s what Rogan did back in 2005 though, when actor Snipes challenged him to a fight. Rogan was well up for it too, training for the fight, but it was sadly cancelled due to Snipes falling foul of the IRS for alleged tax evasion. Rogan seemed sure of his chances though: “I just didn’t think that anybody who didn’t know any jiu-jitsu could learn it quick,” he said later in a podcast. “I was already a brown belt by then, and I just knew what happened when a brown belt fights a white belt. I just can’t imagine. Honestly, I’d rather watch Wesley Snipes v Joe Rogan than Jake Paul v anyone, any day.
2007: Shiny Happy Jihad
I mean, if you’ve got a comedy album coming out, why not mix Arabic and R.E.M. song titles? You do you, Rogan. After growing tired of TV hosting, Rogan got back to live performing. Comedy Central Records released his set at Cobb’s Comedy Club in San Francisco. The track listing includes such ‘witty’ titles as ‘Suicide Bombings, Sad Penis, and Big Party Girl’ and ‘Gay Is Funny, Brokeback Mountain’. An acquired taste, we’ll call this.
2013: Joe Rogan Questions Everything
This SyFy series followed Rogan and co-host Duncan Trussell as they looked into paranormal and strange subjects such as Bigfoot and UFO’s. It wasn’t a huge success, being cancelled after one season and six episodes. This really sounds like what you watch when there’s literally nothing else on TV.
2009-present: The Joe Rogan Experience
What needs to be said about this one? The world’s biggest podcast, now on Spotify. Rogan’s smoked weed with Elon Musk, interviewed presidential candidates, the works. Only last week, he said on it that 21 year olds don’t need to get vaccinated for COVID-19. The man’s got a huge platform and he’s going to use it irresponsibly, damn it. As one glorious tweet puts it, “Back when I was a kid you didn’t need Joe Rogan Your best friend had a 27 year-old brother who was a fucking loser who would smoke pot in a room with blacklight posters and tell you that the Mayans invented cell phones.”