"It's the coolest job in the world," he says. "You get to create your own content -- you're the director, the producer, and the writer. Stand-up is definitely my first love. There's nothing like doing your act and making people feel different than they did when they walked in."
Rogan's CD, I'm Gonna Be Dead Someday, and his "raw and uncensored" Web site, give the impression that Rogan may have been more than NBC bargained for. Surprisingly, the network's suits never asked him to rein it in. But if he'd made them nervous enough, they might have, Rogan says.
"In the end, I don't really care; you like my stuff or not," he says. "If you compromise yourself, you're a candidate for mediocrity."
Rogan hails from Boston, where his potential for being another teenage statistic was sidelined by tae kwon do. In 1987, he was the U.S. Open lightweight champion and grand champion in all weight classes. He took to stand-up the next year and found that the comedy clubs were where he belonged.
His targets of late are the recent elections (he says that his riffs about George W. Bush being "such an idiot" found favor even with Houston audiences two weeks ago), how creepy and disgusting Hugh Hefner is ("what a scumbag"), and such seemingly untouchable material as the death of Princess Diana and Christopher Reeve's paralysis. About the latter, he animatedly says, "He made an elective choice and did a dumb thing. It's not a tragedy. If he was a better actor, he wouldn't have had time to jump horses."
Influences on Rogan's style include Richard Pryor and Lenny Bruce, "the first honest comedian," he says. "What happened to him, though, and what happens with other comics I won't name, is that they get a certain amount of fame and feel a need to espouse their values. They stand up there and lecture -- it's social commentary without the laughs. And it's not that interesting. You're gonna fool the dummies, but the smart people won't like you."
Rogan will bring comic Chris McGuire along to Stanford & Sons in a calculated move with two side benefits: someone to hang with in a foreign city and a funny opening act. Rogan is baffled by the way some of his contemporaries travel with "bad opening acts, who they think make them look better," he says. "I would much rather surround myself with funny people."
His act makes one wonder if anything in 2000 is taboo to a stand-up comic. Rogan seems to think so: "Yeah, nothing that's not funny. There's humor in anything, and, if it's not funny, it's taboo."