Joe Rogan Experience: Always bowing

There’s a joke in my family. When we see an extremely imposing man, one of us will nudge another and whisper. “I’m gonna go whip that guy.”

Pregnant pause.

“I’m sick of his shit.”

Joe Rogan is the kind of dude one of us might make that joke about, provided we were sure he couldn’t hear. Bill Burr showed up on the Joe Rogan Experience #228, all the way back in June 2012 and it opened up facets of each that I hadn’t appreciated relative to each other’s net tough guy’ness.

Burr has become too big of a comic now for me to appreciate that he sees (or saw) himself as a reject. Rogan has become too big of a star for me to appreciate that he was once not just badass as people go but badass as badasses go.

I knew Rogan was a tough guy. I knew he knew how to fight. I hadn’t actually known that he really had fought, that he had been a competitive martial artist during the early days of being a standup comic. This adds a whole new level of context to the guy who is sort of the closest thing we have to a real life superman.

In the episode, Burr calls him out. He says that when they first met back in the early parts of their careers, back in the 90s, that Rogan was not the mellow guy he is now. He wasn’t mean but he had an edge to him that has relaxed. Burr almost seems to imply that Rogan’s affect was roughly at the edge of scariness.

Rogan opens up here and explains how he was living his life at that time as if he was right on the edge of danger, because fighting was always where his head was at. Girls would sleep over and get kicked in the night though he was dead asleep because he’d have fighting dreams.

So when it came time to decide whether or not to take the risk and go all on in on fighting to try to become a champion or to go all in on comedy and have a career, the choice turned out to be easy, he said.

He explained that once that decision had been made he had to do a lot of work to rewire his head so he could calm down and quit living like he was just about to face serious danger every weekend.

This leads them into an interesting conversation about different kinds of men, and why it’s no accident that martial arts gyms tend to be full of guys who feel very little need to act like assholes.

For his part, much of Burr’s comedy, particularly his earlier comedy, is making jokes about the way he’s mentally hobbled by the insecurities faced by so many normal guys living in terror that their friends will think they are wimpy or effeminate, and obviously these insecurities are even more acute for someone like Burr who admits that at the end of the day he actually does believe that he is a wimp.

I don’t know exactly what Rogan believes about himself but he knows he’s not a wimp.

I mean, that’s why…

I’m gonna whip that guy.

Sick of his shit.