Many evenings a week I’m tricked or cajoled into watching some dark, heavy, violent piece of film or television. I don’t mind. I can handle it. But it is certainly not my first choice. Perhaps I have a natural tendency toward sadness and frustration, toward very sensitive compassion and empathy. Or maybe I’m just a big pussy. Probably a combination of all three; but either way, I don’t prefer to be scared, anxious, saddened, or stressed, unless it’s something really fricken good, like Breaking Bad and other worthy shows and movies. I’m not sure how certain artists focus their work on these subjects, because the magnitude and energy-level alone, meaning the state of mind and your overall mood must then reflect the seriousness of the issues you perpetuate, and while I love philosophy and finding some insight in otherwise everyday occurrences, I’d choose to laugh and feel elated, ecstatic, enthusiastic, inspired, uplifted and enlivened any minute of any day over feeling like utter hopeless shit. And because of this very sophisticated preference of feeling happy and positive, I choose comedy to satisfy it all. In all forms, but especially in stand-up comedy, humor is one of the last true methods of exercising our 1st amendment rights. Comedians have this innate knack to point out very obvious truths, direct concise arrows toward hypocrisy in modern society, and cleverly shine a light on what has become very normal, but very caustic human behavior, and that light then becomes a mirror, for us to acknowledge and potentially change. Or just a beautiful means of escapism, laughing at pain diminishes its power, and the impactful methods used by comics to express these sometimes harsh views, have transformative effects on those of us willing to listen. I recently watched Joe Rogan’s 2005 stand-up hour. Coupled with his very interesting podcast, his affiliation with DMT, transcendence, and truthfully the stigma that has followed him because of his career choices, I feel he is well worth sharing, listening and respecting. Everyone wants to be the next Bill Hicks. And no one will let them. What comedians like Carlin, Hicks, Pryor, Lenny Bruce and more led to was this notion that comedy wasn’t just a means to laugh and escape, but more importantly it’s an opportunity to think and face reality, rather than run from it or simply laugh at it. These very clever artists have articulated themselves in a way that it really bleeds into the audience’s subconscious, their words become quotable, memorable, and therefore forever apart of the interweb that is our mind. What’s incredibly unfortunate is our world is no longer being fed by the unique wisdom of the men I mentioned above. Fortunately, legends never die (as my favorite childhood movie the Sandlot informed me), and Bill’s words in particular reverberate on and on, nearly 2 decades since his passing, and the majority of comedians express their utmost admiration and respect for him, for his message and for his brilliance. Most of Bill’s material can be seen on Netflix, YouTube and other internet sources, but before we get into modern-day Hicksian disciples, I’d like to encourage anyone interested to watch American: The Bill Hicks Story, streaming now on Netflix instant. In a quick 90 minutes, my mind and heart were broadened to such a degree it was nearly impossible to process. The story is told so creatively, mostly through the use of photographs from Bill’s life, of his loved one’s, colleagues, friends, and of his adventures. It is narrated by a number of these people, although we never see them, only through chronologically ordered photographs and some video do we see these characters come alive. Since leaving home, like we all do, I acquired my own opinions and loose beliefs regarding politics, religion, drugs, people, nature, love, etc., and through Bill’s astounding story, and through his own astute observations and discernible method of delivery, I was then re-informed and subsequently re-imagined a new, improved way of looking at these subjects. Regardless how staunchly you believe in anything, the film is interesting, funny, insightful and very memorable.
Back to Joe. If you aren’t aware of what Joe has done or been doing since his 90’s work on Newsradio (still stands the test of time, that was a genuinely funny, smart show), his first stint hosting the insane reality series Fear Factor, his recent return to the even crazier version of the same show, and of course his affiliation with UFC, then you may be surprised to know what a dynamic, thoughtful, intelligent, wise and very funny man he is. He’s been a stand-up comic for 20 years, was a full body Tae Kwon Do champion 4 years in a row, as well as the U.S. light, middle and heavyweight Grand Champion. The fight stuff doesn’t mean much to me, except as a former athlete I can certainly respect the discipline and dedication achieving that sort of goal requires. It also lends to his credibility on certain subjects, regarding health and fitness, fighting in general, and definitely adds to his intrigue as a human being. An MMA, comedy, consciousness enthusiast? Sounds awesome. As with anyone of moderate success and fame will ingest, there are small groups of people with throngs of judgment and negativity toward Joe and toward anyone with an opinion and success. It’s always best to make up your own mind, so here I’m simply suggesting you check him out further, from his fascinating podcast, to his advocacy of DMT, floatation tanks and other altered states, and of course, to his stage persona and comedic material. He’s worth checking out.
I wrote previously about the awe-inspiring documentary DMT, the Spirit Molecule. Joe is experienced and well-informed in various methods of elevating your consciousness, or altering your pervasive state, mainly through the use of marijuana, psychedelic mushrooms, the administration of DMT, and the life-changing effects of a sensory-deprivation, or isolation, tank. I proudly support the legalization and recreational use of cannabis, THC, marijuana, pot, weed, green, hash, whatever euphemism you prefer. It is absolutely the choice of an individual to what they prefer, but this substance that grows naturally almost everywhere around the world carries the most unnecessary stigma and negatively perpetuated myths that I’m appalled it hasn’t at the very least been de-criminalized in each state yet. Joe is a major advocate as well, exclaiming very passionately the bizarre and sometimes helpful ideas this altered state has given him and others, not to mention the feeling of love and connection you feel while under the influence, which is drastically different from a drunken stupor induced by alcohol. Not to mention the laughter. Comedy is medicine, too. We spend billions of dollars a year on man-made prescription drugs, in particular mood elevators, neurological inhibitors and bottles proclaiming numerous physiological benefits for heart, weight, stress and countless others, and most of us don’t even question it! At all, we just pop it, cross our fingers and move on. Joe and many others point to the very simple truth that marijuana, mushrooms, acid and other potentially beneficial natural drugs have yet to be legalized because the pharmaceutical companies, even lobbyists supposedly advocating for our health and for scientific research, keep pumping money into congress to keep these arcane laws in place, to keep us buying these drugs, over and over again. Luckily, knowledge is spreading and the ever-evolving list of positives within medicinal marijuana has led to a good handful of states permitting that sort of use.
The use of the sensory deprivation tank intrigues me. I have some slight issues with claustrophobia and that whole buried alive fear that I’m resolving, but given the research and testimonials, I see nothing but good for those seeking this out and I’m beyond shocked the government hasn’t found a way to remove this from civilian reach. There’s no drugs. It’s just you, floating in 11 inches of water, in silence, in pitch-black darkness, you and your mind. There’s all sorts of muscular and joint benefits attributed to time in the tank, but the mental and “spiritual” experiences recounted are even more powerful. Not sure if or when I’ll do it, but I’m surprised more people aren’t aware or talking about it, and for that reason I wanted to share. Check out the interesting few minute video below and/or read about it here.
Without delving too deep into his very memorable stand-up special from 2005, I’ll just say that Joe is carrying on very Hicks-like subject matter with this aggressive energy and enthusiasm, with ecstatic bursts reminiscent of Sam Kinison. He covers the very simple topics like modern relationships and women’s tendency to lie and conform according to what a man wants, only for it then to backfire a few months later once the man is effectively pussy-whipped. He discusses basic stupidity, evolution, human beings and our relationship to Earth and the cosmos, politics and government (Joe understandably is a Libertarian, Ron Paul supporter), the aforementioned drug issue, death, and the ever-divisive topic of religion. Of course there are a myriad of talented comedians and artists tackling these subjects, standing on the shoulders of Hicks and others, but Joe has an impeccable method of execution. He uses simple language, logic, and appropriate emphasis to allow his words to have resonance, and that impact is profound. I’ve previously expressed in a number of words my lack of religious belief. It doesn’t mean I don’t believe in God, or that I think all organized religions are worthless, but the heat surrounding these discussions today leads a person of moderate intelligence to see how destructive and exclusive they are, rather than rational, connective and inclusive, which would naturally be more beneficial to us as a human race and as a planet. I believe in love and the factual sentiment of the genius astrophysicist, Dr. Neil Degrasse Tyson, “We are all connected; To each other, biologically. To the earth, chemically. To the rest of the universe atomically.” I share in Joe’s enthusiasm to spread helpful, interesting and all around affirmative information, to quell the rampant fear we have as a species, and to instead acknowledge how impossibly gifted and talented many humans are and how these minds are drastically altering our future in extraordinary ways. There's tons of content on his site, YouTube, Google, etc.
Joe remains a realist, seeing both the extreme pros and cons of modern day man. He maintains humility, knowing there’s a black hole of information we’ve yet to glean, while maintaining awe at those who are at the forefront of discovery and innovation. Recently he’s had the optimistic filmmaker and futurist, Jason Silva, on his very unique and influential podcast. They discuss the advent of technology and it’s increasingly inevitable integration with humans and how these forms of exploration and inventions will have unimaginable effects on our biology, neurology, chemistry and on the many issues concerning the world today (over-population, resource depletion, consumption, mental and physical diseases, religion, geopolitical power, space exploration, etc.). These conversations leave me more informed than I was going in, inspired to be, think and do better, and they give me tremendous hope and optimism for our future.
There’s a long list of artistic and scientific minds with whom I do not agree 100%, on many subjects, but that doesn’t mean I cannot be open to their ideas and learn from them. To write anyone off, from those you love to strangers on the street, famous and virtually unknown, is to do ourselves a disservice. I don’t have to adhere to it all to find it valuable or beneficial. People all over the world, young and old, exhibiting their own forms of success and expressing their own truths, are worth our time and energy. Feeling confident in what we know while also carrying the humility required to keep learning and improving is imperative. And if you can share some laughs while also being asked to ponder and question everyday realities, it’s a win-win. Give one of Joe Rogan’s methods of expression a shot. I guarantee you’ll be surprised, enlightened and entertained. What’s better than that?
"We're here to eat the sandwich." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zyc12-neTjM&feature=fvsr
There’s plenty of bullshit and crushing evidence of darkness to complain about, but what the hell does that do? There’s also an overwhelming plethora of emerging radiance stemming from human beings. You’re one of them. Stay informed, open, humorous and optimistic. It ruins your and others’ experience being Polly Pissy Pants. You can remain a realist and choose to absorb information that betters you and adds to your level of success and contentment. It is a choice. Choose wisely. And never stop laughing.