I don’t think of myself as a person who likes Joe Rogan, although he’s one of those guys with such an aggressive, hardcore fanbase that I always get flak anytime I’ve said anything unflattering about the guy. I’m usually taken aback, “What? There are passionate Joe Rogan fans?!”
I shouldn’t be surprised, after hearing him talk for an hour on the Nerdist podcast. I’m a fan now, too.
I think the Fear Factor is what put me off of him originally, although understanding why he took the gig actually endears me to him. In a recent Nerdist podcast, he told Chris Hardwick that the reason he signed on to Fear Factor was because, after Newsradio, he couldn’t imagine doing another sitcom. He’s already achieved sitcom heaven, and all the offers that came afterwards were crap,, comparatively.
But the Joe Rogan Nerdist podcast is yet another reason why — regardless of what you might think of Hardwick, or Marc Maron, or Jeff Garlin or Jesse Thorn — I love these conversations, because invariably getting to know someone over the course of an hour or so often changes my entire perspective of them. A month or two ago, there was a Keanu Reeves Nerdist podcast, for instance, and while Reeves didn’t make any revelations in it, I remember being blown away by his energy. After years of Sad Keanu memes, I think I’d forgotten what a charismatic, likable guy he actually is (like a wizened Ted ‘Theodore’ Logan).
Anyway, the Rogan podcast also changed my perception of him. He’s smart, maybe a little kooky (he subscribes to all sorts of theories surrounding toxoplasmosis), and a really interesting character. I was particularly taken to him during the section in which he talked about Newsradio (as many of you may know, Joe Rogan took a role originated by Ray Romano in the first pilot). Specifically, Rogan talked about a reunion the Newsradio cast would be doing soon. The conversation turned toward the death of Phil Hartman, and Rogan began to get a little weepy.
We all know the sad details, but hearing them from someone on the inside, so to speak, gives those details more heft, and frankly, more sadness.
“It was awful. Everything about it was awful. I mean, the fact that his kids were in the house. It was awful. [Brynn Hartman] killed him and then killed herself. It was awful. It was like something you never thought would happen to someone you know … especially not two people you know. I knew both of them. It opened my eyes up to the actual real dangers of bad relationships.
[And also the dangers of drugs]. Zoloft, as well. Zoloft and drugs, together, which create some kind of psychotropic effect, apparently. But I know there was a settlement. There was a settlement with Zoloft that apparently the kids got.
There was a lot of issues. [Hartman’s wife] was a mess. Without the drugs, without the Zoloft, she was a mess. She was a failed actress who deeply resented his success, and as he became more and more successful, their relationship became more and more contentious. She would embarrass him, and insult him publicly. It was ugly. They had ugly, ugly falling outs and sort of, fights. They would break up and he would go live on a boat, like a little sailboat, and he’d come back, and they would make up.
I didn’t know about the wrongful death lawsuit against Pfizer (the company that makes Zoloft). Nor did I know that, as Jon Lovitz apparently explained, Andy Dick is the one who reintroduced cocaine to Brynn Hartman, and that Jon Lovitz blames Andy Dick indirectly for the whole goddamn mess. It’s all just a fucking tragedy. An awful, tragic mess.