The Joe Rogan Experience
“The podcast of Comedian Joe Rogan…”
Well, clearly the self-description of The Joe Rogan Experience is lacking, or at the very least vague, so I’ll try to flesh it out a bit before getting into my actual review. But fleshing it out is hard, and perhaps the self-description is purposefully vague, because this show is about so many different topics. First and foremost, though, I need to address my own elephant in the room: I came to this podcast with a high degree of skepticism, particularly about Joe Rogan as a host, and I suspect a lot of you reading this may feel or may have felt the same way. I didn’t know much about him beyond the fact that he’s a comedian who’s really into MMA, and so I’m ashamed to say that I chalked him up to little more than a simple meathead. I was wrong. I’ll expound on that later in the review.
Anyway, this is a longform interview-style podcast. I’m talking two to three hours per episode, and so this is one I’d recommend listening to at at least 1.5x speed. So if you’re going to start an episode without listening at an increased rate of speed, be willing to make that time commitment. I’ll only say that for the majority of the episodes, the time you’ll spend is worth it.
Joe interviews people. Interesting people. Several times per week. Exceptionally well. He interviews athletes. He interviews activists. He interviews cultural icons. He interviews thinkers. He interviews scientists.
What I like about Joe is that he has a broad spectrum of interest in nearly everything and anything that his guests want to talk about, and he’s not afraid to call bullshit when he smells it. And honestly, there can be a lot of bullshit on his show that listeners need to parse through. But Joe helps with that. If I had to narrow down just what it is that the show is about, or to broadly categorize the sorts of guests that Joe interviews, I’d simply say that the show is about finding and pushing up against the limits of the human experience in all aspects of life, and his guests are the sorts of people who do that. These limits come in the form of the physical, a la athletes (mostly MMA-types, as Joe has strong roots in the sport) and nutritionists. They come in the form of pure human experience, when Joe talks to people about psychedelic drugs or meditating or yoga. And these limits also come in the form of social taboos and intellectual boundaries, when Joe interviews nonconformists of thought who seek to tell what is, in their opinion, the repressed truth about this thing called life.
Now, of course, sometimes there are limits or taboos in place for real reasons. There’s a taboo on murder for a real reason, to go with an extreme example. Naturally, interviewing people who push against taboo in general, Joe encounters a lot of really, for lack of a better word, wacky people and ridiculous claims and assertions. This is where Joe’s ability to detect bullshit and call it out is important. He’s not shy about it. But he’s also not always right about it. And that’s fine--he’s a human being, which leads me to my next point about Joe: He possesses a greater degree of intellectual honesty and sincerity than almost any interviewer out there, and he combines that with both a sort of everyman persona and a naturally high level of curiosity. That is, oftentimes Joe is definitively not the smartest man in the room, and he freely admits that with no shame. Rarely, however, is he not the boldest and most honest person in the room, and that quality of candor drives the show. When he’s wrong, he admits he’s wrong. But when he’s right, he presses his guests with little-to-no mercy, attacking arguments at both their base assumptions and their broader implications.
If you’re interested in simply confirming all of the worldviews you’ve held up to this point and aim to avoid challenging those views, then don’t listen to The Joe Rogan Experience. However, if you, like me, enjoy bumping up against taboos and hearing ideas and perspectives you’ve never encountered, or only encountered through secondary sources and straw man arguments, then I emphatically recommend that you do download and subscribe to The Joe Rogan Experience. Just remember to take it all with a healthy grain of salt.
Again, there’re so many that’s it’s honestly hard to say.
If you like this podcast, you’ll probably like:
The Tim Ferriss Show
Waking Up with Sam Harris
The Last Podcast on the Left
The Joe Rogan Experience's Website