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Lex Fridman (00:00):

The following is a conversation with Joe Rogan, his second time on this podcast. He has inspired me for many years with his conversations to be a better and kinder person and has now been doing so as a friend.


There’s no one I would rather talk to on this 300th episode of this podcast on the 4th of July, both the anniversary of this country’s Declaration of Independence and the anniversary of my immigrating here to the United States. A silly kid who couldn’t speak English and could never imagine that he would be so damn lucky as to live the life I’ve lived and to feel the love I’ve felt from the amazing people along the way.


From the bottom of my heart, thank you. I love you all. And now a quick few second mention of his sponsor. Check them out in the description. It’s the best way to support this podcast. We got Theragun for muscle recovery, Athletic Greens for performance, Insight Tracker for longevity, Aid Sleep for napping and ExpressVPN for privacy. Choose wisely, my friends. And now onto the full ad reads. As always, no ads in the middle. I try to make this interesting, but if you skip them, please still check out the sponsors. I enjoy their stuff. Maybe you will too. This show is brought to you by Theragun, one of my favorite tools to help muscle recovery and therapy. I’ve had a few small injuries and one that’s just been taking forever to heal and I’ve been using Theragun to help with that. I guess it’s called abductor leg muscle, aka groin pull.


Been a nightmare, because it’s not really that injured, but it just takes forever to heal. And it takes a long time to regain confidence in order to do any kind of 100% intensity training on the mat, so grappling. You can do all exercise, squats, all that kind of stuff, but grappling really requires you to have your body in good working condition. And so for that, Theragun has been a huge, huge positive part of my recovery and therapy. So their gen four is amazing. It completely releases tension using the percussive therapy, what they call, that they’re known for, which goes deep, friends. It feels kind of awesome, not in a creepy way, but there’s a nice screen and a smart app that guides you through the different routines. It’s super nice. Get yours at slash Lex.


This show is also brought to you by Athletic Greens, and it’s AG1 drink. I drink it first thing in the morning. I drink it twice a day. It replaced the multivitamin for me. It does a lot of stuff. You can check out the vitamins and minerals it got, and they keep innovating on the thing too. So they’re staying ahead of the science.


I should also mention that it’s delicious. It’s kind of like a reminder to me that I have my life together when everything else is falling apart, when nothing is working mentally or physically. It’s just giant chaos. I’m not getting sleep. The diet, it’s a nightmare, and it’s just, I’m putting my life through a grinder source at times, driven by the passion, the passionate pursuit of different curiosities that I have. I just kind of, Alice in Wonderland, I dive in and hang out with the rabbits, but without the LSD. And so, given all that, the one place I can return to that reminds me that I have my life together, at least nutritionally, is Athletic Greens. Twice a day, and I even travel with it. They have travel packs, it’s super easy. They’ll give you one month’s supply of fish oil when you sign up at slash Lex. Join me, brothers and sisters, in this nutritional pursuit of a stable, healthy life.


This show is also brought to you by Inside Tracker, a service I use to track biological data. They have a bunch of plans, most of which include blood tests that collect data about your body. The blood is a beautiful thing. It has both the current state of your body and the history of your body, but they also use DNA data, fitness tracker data, all of that, using machine learning algorithms to help you plan your life out. If your life is falling apart, maybe relationships and all that kind of stuff, they can’t help you. This is just about your body. But maybe in the future, we’ll be able to collect more and more data from not just the stuff below the neck, but the stuff above the neck too, meaning the brain.


Getting not just the neuronal signals, but the cognitive stuff, so the high level, the things you’re worried about. Maybe you would be able to look in to the young shadow of your mind, the unconscious, the subconscious mind, and find their large-scale data that reveals to you how you can solve that puzzle. Sort of do what psychiatry has always hoped to do, but do so systematically. I mean, we’re probably really, really far away from that, because I think human biology is super complicated, but the human mind is orders of magnitude more complicated. But let’s focus on the human biology part, and that’s what you need Insight Tracker for. You can go to slash Lex for a limited time to get special savings.


This episode is also brought to you by Aid Sleep and its PodPro mattress. It controls temperature with an app, it’s packed with sensors, and it can cool down to as low as 55 degrees on each side of the bed separately. Now, the first part of that 55 degrees feels like heaven. Honestly, it’s 100 degrees plus here in Austin. I’ve been running outside, sometimes in the afternoon in that heat.


It really tests the mind. Really, really tests the mind, but I enjoy it. It’s fine, it’s just rough mentally. Physically it’s good, but mentally it’s rough, which is fine, it’s a good test for the mind. Now, when I return, take a shower, it’s so beautifully refreshing, even in an air-conditioned room, to lay down on a chilled bed. And then, with a little bit of a warm blanket, it’s just heaven. Whether we’re talking about a power nap or a full night’s sleep, it’s heaven. You can get your PodPro cover in USA, Canada, and the UK if you go to slash Lex.


This show is also brought to you by ExpressVPN. I use them to protect my privacy on the internet. I know you go to all kinds of shady websites. I probably go to them as well. There’s no shame in it. We’re in this together. Life is short, why not enjoy it? This is bad country, after all. But when you do so, you should take precautions. Use a good VPN.


And I think the best VPN, my favorite VPN, the one I’ve used for many, many years, religiously, before any of this podcast stuff has always been ExpressVPN, still has a big, sexy button that when you press, it just works. And it works super fast. I mean, that’s, I guess, what you want from a VPN. The connection is super fast, the interface is intuitive, it works on any device, any operating system, including my favorite OS, which is Linux. I use, most of my machines use Ubuntu Mate, M-A-T-E. I just love the interface, and then based on Ubuntu, which is Debian-based.


It’s probably my favorite Linux. I used to use SUSE a lot. I also use Gentoo. There’s a lot. I mean, I’ve used a lot of distributions. And how did this discussion about a VPN lead me to a discussion of Linux? I don’t know. The point is, you can go to slash legspod to get an extra three months free. This is the Lex Fridman podcast. To support it, please check out our sponsors in the description. And now, dear friends, here’s Joe Rogan.


Charles Bukowski said something in a poem called Style about art. He defined art saying, “‘Style is the answer to everything, “‘a fresh way to approach a dull or dangerous thing, “’to do a dull thing with style is preferable “’to doing a dangerous thing without it. “‘To do a dangerous thing with style is what I call art.’” What do you think he meant by that? Do you agree with this?

Joe Rogan (09:27):

A dangerous thing with style is art.

Lex Fridman (09:30):

He said bullfighting can be art, boxing can be art, loving can be art. Have you ever made love and it was art?

Joe Rogan (09:37):

No, okay. I’m not asking. Every time, bro.

Lex Fridman (09:40):

Opening a can of sardines can be art.

Joe Rogan (09:43):

I think there’s something to that. Yeah, I think, I call the way people live life art. Like, I wrote a foreword to my friend Cameron Haynes’ book, which is right now the number one selling audio book in the world. And one of the things that I said was that he practices an art that very few people appreciate, and it’s the art of the maximized life. And that the discipline that he displays in his life and through his practices and all the things that he does, it’s so difficult to live the way he lives.


That for someone like me who understands it and knows what he’s doing and appreciates it and appreciates how insanely difficult it is to have a full-time job and run ultra marathons, get up at four o’clock in the morning, run a full marathon before work. Like, that’s the kind of shit that he does when he’s training for these 240-mile runs, all at the same time being like a father, a husband, having this full-time job, also being the best bow hunter on earth, lifting weights. It’s like, how does a person do this?

Lex Fridman (10:59):

So in a way, discipline is art, too.

Joe Rogan (11:01):

Yes, discipline is art. Yeah, I think it is, because it’s beautiful for me to see. When I see someone who’s really truly disciplined, who like a David Goggins, someone who just like truly maximizes the grind, I feel like there’s an art to that. And there’s an art to kindness. Like, there’s people that are really kind and really sweet, and when I’m around them, it’s beautiful. It’s like, there’s an art to them. No matter what.

Lex Fridman (11:23):

Yeah. They still, they got, you know, the world can throw a bunch of shit at you, but through all of that, you’re just…

Joe Rogan (11:28):

Some people are just great at it. And it’s a thing that you learn how to do. And it’s pleasing for other people to see. And that, I think, is where the art is.

Lex Fridman (11:40):

Well, I think Bukowski also said, and I’m just a Bukowski quote generator today. I love him. I love him very much, too. He’s a dark and troubled and fascinating and a weird person, like Hunter S. Thompson. Yeah. He said, what matters most is how you walk through the fire, I think. So there’s a bit of the Ken Haynes in that, too, David Goggins in that, too. What do you think he meant by that?

Joe Rogan (12:05):

Well, how you walk through the fire. I mean, you can walk through the fire complaining along the way, or you can walk through the fire and create an example for everyone else so that the trials and tribulations of their own lives seem trivial because they’re comparing themselves to the way you handle things, or the way you handle things with grace and dignity and discipline can show other people that they can handle their own life this way.


And there’s beauty in that. There really is. There’s so much inspiration to be gathered from other people if you’re a charitable person, if you’re charitable and compassionate, and you can look at people, even people that I don’t like, I try to look at the best aspects of how they live their life and recognize those aspects, admire them, give them credit for it. There’s something that we can all get out of watching the way other people live their lives.

Lex Fridman (13:06):

So I got a chance to see you walk through the fire a little bit privately and publicly this year, in January. I gotta ask you about that. So there’s like generic conversations about sort of cancel culture and all those kinds of things, but as a human being, this to me is fascinating. Sort of there’s the N-word highlight video, there’s the criticism of the different guests, whatever the side is on the COVID pandemic. And you, I mean, there’s a mass amount of attack on you.


Outside of being a public persona, outside of being a comedian, podcaster, you’re also a human being. So how did you survive that? How did you sort of walk through that fire? Because you seem to do it with grace.

Joe Rogan (13:59):

I used mushrooms. That was one way I did it.

Lex Fridman (14:04):

Really? What’s your, as Andrew Huberman would say, what was your protocol?

Joe Rogan (14:08):

I took, it was probably less than a gram every day. Every day. Yeah. And I did a lot of like really hard working out, but also, I mean, there’s a great benefit to going through anything difficult. And if you’re aware, like in advance and during, like anything that’s going to happen that’s very difficult and troubling, the great benefit is it gives you an opportunity to grow. It gives you an opportunity to express yourself under pressure, to show your character, to show who you truly are. And it gives you an opportunity to see how you handle a very difficult situation. It also was fascinating as a person that’s involved in media, right? Because what we’re doing right now is media, even though, you know, it seems like podcasts seem like we’re just having a conversation, right? And they are, and in that sense, it’s kind of the purest form of media because what you’re doing is you’re doing it without any fanfare, you’re doing it without any, there’s no executives looming over your head or network or big meetings about ratings or any of that stuff, but it is media. But what I got to see is the wiring under the machine of how the rest of media would try to take me out.


And, you know, like when CNN would just be playing things over and over and back and forth, it was wild to watch. What was also wild to watch was people’s responses because I gained 2 million subscribers during that time. Like the podcast never got bigger. It just kept growing and growing. It had never been bigger than it had been like at the end of all of it. It just made it bigger. And, you know, ultimately when, if you’ve fucked up in the past or made mistakes or done something wrong, that gives you an opportunity to discuss those things and to say, to apologize if you feel the need to apologize and also to just address it. And so people under that kind of pressure, it’s an opportunity for them to understand how you think about things. Honestly, how you actually honestly think about things. And there’s no more honesty that you get out of a person than when that person is under extreme duress. You know, so I think in that sense, I mean, it’s horrible to say that it’s a benefit, that it’s a good thing that it happened. But it was a benefit.

Lex Fridman (16:52):

Can you see how it can break a person? Yes. I’ve gotten the chance to experience small, small attacks here and there. Ones that get to the core of things. Like even just talking about Russia and Ukraine, to Stephen Kotkin or Oliver Stone, looking at different perspectives, you gain, for me, feeling like a sizable number of people who really don’t like you and say things about you that may be cut deep for a reason I don’t understand why. It’s just my own psychology.

Joe Rogan (17:30):

Well, it’s also because you can’t defend yourself. Because they’re saying it and you’re not there. And you don’t have any opportunity for a rebuttal. And if you do have a rebuttal, you’re doing it publicly. And you’re opening it up to the whole world to chime in. And there’s a general tendency that people have towards negativity when they’re interacting with strangers online, especially about controversial subjects. And even if it’s only 10% of the people, it’s one out of 10. That’s a lot. That’s a lot of negativity when you’re dealing with thousands and thousands of tweets.

Lex Fridman (18:03):

Yeah, and I think maybe I’m just a very self-critical person, but I hear their words and I probably, somewhere deep inside, see the truth in the criticism, in some aspect of the criticism. And that’s why it hurts.

Joe Rogan (18:17):

But it’s one aspect of you. But when you’re reading it, it’s so, it’s boiled down to this one thing, as if that one thing defines you totally. Like if you’ve made a mistake, if you’ve said something that you shouldn’t have said, or if you said something and maybe you should have considered it more carefully, giving the gravity of the situation, you know, that’s just a part of being a person. And it’s also part of being a person where you’re communicating with things publicly, in real time, thinking out loud, which is what we do. You know, it’s complex and most people don’t do it. And you’re gonna have these, you’re gonna have genuine hot takes where people just see what you said and go, why did he say that? Fuck him. You know, he doesn’t know anything about, he doesn’t live in Ukraine. He doesn’t, you know, there’s like, there’s people that are gonna have takes on that in that way. And then there’s also gonna be these disingenuous people who just use any kind of controversial topic or subject as an opportunity for them to get clicks or views.

Lex Fridman (19:28):

But the number of those people can be quite large. Quite large. And so going back to, do you think it can destroy a person? Because I kind of worry about this and you’re, in many ways, but in this way, an inspiration that it didn’t seem to have destroyed you.

Joe Rogan (19:44):

But is it- I kept doing shows. I kept doing standup. I ignored everything. I didn’t read any of it. So it is possible to just- 100%. Yes. Yeah. I ignored it all.

Lex Fridman (19:56):

But you have like- I knew it was there. Like your family didn’t bring it up.

Joe Rogan (19:59):

My family was very aware of it. My wife was aware-

Lex Fridman (20:02):

What was the conversation like? If your wife is aware of it, is there like a rule? Don’t pretend it’s not happening? No.

Joe Rogan (20:09):

Just like what? Well, I tell her, don’t ever read- Pass the green beans. I don’t ever let her read negative articles to me. I don’t want them. I don’t care. I go, that’s a person’s opinion. You take a person’s opinion, you write it down. It doesn’t give it any more relevance. Like that person, you know, could have had that opinion in silence. They could have had it with some friends at dinner. They don’t like me, whatever. I don’t want to read it. I don’t want to absorb it. I don’t even know them, especially if I’m not there. And especially if it’s some biased and it’s not an objective opinion of me. It’s this, you know, they have a narrative and they want to stick to that narrative and they want to write an article and they piece it all together, make you look like a piece of shit. And that’s their prerogative. They’re completely allowed to do that. But I shouldn’t absorb that. I shouldn’t take that in. You’re not supposed to be taking in the opinion of the world.


You’re supposed to be taking in the opinion of small groups of people that you encounter so that you get an understanding of how you make them feel. And then maybe you say to yourself, maybe I come across too rude, or maybe I come across too insensitive, or maybe I could do better in this way or that way. That’s how we sort of shape our personalities. And it’s how we develop our social skills.


When the people don’t know you and they have this like distorted narrative of you, and you know, there’s fucking millions of people. There’s so many people. You can’t be seen. I think there’s billions now, actually. I mean, millions of people that are like communicating about something. Like during the height of the, you know, the attempt to cancel me or whatever that is. I don’t know how many people were involved in that.

Lex Fridman (21:51):

People take this kind of stuff seriously, but the problem is the false narratives take hold. And then you have meetings, you have groups, you have, it builds on top of each other and there’s this outrage. And then it reaches you at some point and it can just have these destructive effects.

Joe Rogan (22:07):

It does. But it also sometimes doesn’t. And in my case, it didn’t. Didn’t work.

Lex Fridman (22:15):

What lessons did you draw from that? Mushrooms, exercise?

Joe Rogan (22:19):

Mushrooms and exercise. Exercise is critical. I don’t think the mushrooms by themselves would have worked. But that’s the thing that I use for everything is the brutal exercise. Like my exercise routines are horrible. And because of that, everything else is easier. I create my own bullshit and my own bullshit is so much harder.


And it’s not just that, it’s also sauna and cold plunge. And these torture sessions, they, in enduring those, when you endure those, it makes enduring other things much easier. And it’s also an understanding of what’s happening. Like you have to know like media. You have to understand like what the hot take, you know, YouTube, social media, podcast, ecosphere is doing. Like if they’re talking about, you know, Lex Friedman said this, and we have to comment on that. And, you know, Lex gets canceled in all capital letters on a YouTube clip. And if you watch that, you’re fucking crazy. What are you doing? Absorbing all this negativity? It’s not good for you. You are you. You know you. And you know generally if you’ve made a mistake and you know generally if people are upset with you.

Lex Fridman (23:29):

You posted this awesome video on your Instagram of a woman who was being interviewed in late 1920s maybe. Yes, yeah, yeah. And she’s close to 100 years old. So she’s lived through the Civil War, through World War I. She was at the time living through the early days of the Great Depression. So I was just looking back, you know, what have we as a human civilization in recent times survived, especially in the United States?


You’re talking about the two World Wars in the 20th century, the Great Depression, the Spanish flu, the pandemic, at the beginning of the 20th century. Yeah. What do we do in the United States? 9-11? If you think of what are the traumatic events that shook our world, it’s 9-11. It’s made us rethink our place in the world, the pandemic. Pandemic is a huge one. Is it, I mean.

Joe Rogan (24:24):

One of the bigger ones, because it also accelerated and exacerbated our anxiety, which people have a certain level of anxiety already, especially sedentary people. They have a very high level of anxiety already because I don’t think they’re giving their body what it needs.


I don’t think they’re, you know, your body has certain requirements in terms of movement. And when you deny your body those requirements, I think there’s like a general level of anxiety that exists in almost everyone. And then you have people, obviously, that have mental health issues. And that also exacerbates the anxiety. The lockdown exacerbated the anxiety. Losing loved ones to the pandemic exacerbated anxiety. And then there was the division of anxiety the division, the different schools of thought, the people that were never gonna get vaccinated no matter what, I ain’t trusting it. People that thought there was microchips in there. People that thought that, you know, Fauci’s the demon. And there was a lot.


And there’s also like political leanings. The right wing people tended to not want to be vaccinated. Whereas the left wing people, for whatever reason, all of a sudden are trusting pharmaceutical companies like explicitly. It was weird. It was a weird time. And I think over time, as it gets analyzed and we break it down, it’s gonna be one of the weirder moments for shaping human culture. And unfortunately for throwing gasoline on this already burning fire of, you know, of conflict between the various factions of thought in this country. It’s already a weird time, you know, post Trump. Like the Trump era is also going to be one of the weirder times when people look back historically about the division in this country. He’s such a polarizing figure that so many people felt like they could abandon their own ethics and morals and principles just to attack him and anybody who supports him because he is an existential threat to democracy itself.

Lex Fridman (26:44):

But don’t you think it’s not a cause, but maybe like a symptom, like it’s gonna get, you said it got real weird. Maybe it’s gonna get weirder.

Joe Rogan (26:52):

Yeah, I think it’s gonna get weirder. He’s gonna run again and it’s gonna get weird. Well, he’s running against a dead man. You know, I mean, Biden shakes hands with people that aren’t even there when he gets off stage. I think he’s seeing ghosts. You see him on Jimmy Kimmel the other day? Well, he was just rambling. I mean, if he was anyone else, if he was a Republican, if that was Donald Trump doing that, every fucking talk show would be screaming for him to be off the air. And by the way, I’m not a Trump supporter in any way, shape, or form. I’ve had the opportunity to have him on my show more than once. I’ve said no every time. I don’t wanna help him. I’m not interested in helping him.

Lex Fridman (27:31):

The night is still young, we’ll see.

Joe Rogan (27:34):

I have him on, the night is still young? You think I’ll have him on?

Lex Fridman (27:36):

I think you’ll have him on.

Joe Rogan (27:37):

Really, why do you think that? Because you’ll have Putin on?

Lex Fridman (27:42):

And you’re competitive as fuck. No. I think ultimately, I mean, you’ve had a lot of people that I think you may otherwise be skeptical, would I have a good conversation? Which I think is your metric. You don’t care about politics, so can I have a good conversation? And I think you had people like Kanye on, for example, and you had a great conversation with him. I think you, I think…

Joe Rogan (28:11):

Yeah, but Kanye’s an artist. But Kanye doing well or not doing well doesn’t change the course of our country.

Lex Fridman (28:19):

Yeah, but do you really bear the responsibility of the course of our country based on a conversation?

Joe Rogan (28:27):

I think you can revitalize and rehabilitate someone’s image in a way that is pretty shocking. Look at the way people look at Alex Jones now, because Alex Jones has been on my podcast a few times.

Lex Fridman (28:43):

Yeah, how do they, which direction?

Joe Rogan (28:45):

The people that have watched those podcasts think he’s hilarious. And they think that he definitely fucked up with that whole Sandy Hook thing, but he’s right more than he’s wrong. And he’s not an evil guy. He’s just a guy who’s had some psychotic breaks in his life. He’s had some genuine mental health issues that he’s addressed. He’s had some serious bouts of alcoholism, some serious bouts of substance abuse, and they’ve contributed to some very poor thinking.


But if you know the guy, if you get to know him, like I have, I’ve known him for more than 20 years. And if you know him on podcasts, you realize like he is genuinely trying to unearth some things that are genuinely disturbing for most people. Like this is a guy that was telling me about Epstein’s Island fucking decade ago. At least he was telling me about, I was like, what? You’re telling me there’s a place where they bring elites to compromise them with underage girls and they filmed them. Really? Like what? Cut the fuck out of here. Like, no, President Clinton’s been there. Everyone’s been there. Like what? It sounds like nonsense. And not only is it true, but people keep getting fucking murdered for it. Did you see that latest Clinton advisor that got murdered about it? Yeah, hung with an extension cord, shot himself in the chest, 30 miles from his house, and they’re calling it a suicide.

Lex Fridman (30:14):

And now even Elon Musk is asking, where’s the clientele list? Yeah. We should probably see who’s been to that island.

Joe Rogan (30:22):

Yeah, we should probably see who’s been to that island. And there’s probably more of those kind of things out there that haven’t been exposed. Haven’t been exposed.

Lex Fridman (30:30):

Yeah, but sort of to push back in you, you had those conversations with Alex Jones. Wouldn’t you be able to have the same kind of conversation with Donald Trump? That’s the problem. No, it’s not the problem. You revealed that Alex Jones is a human being. He’s fucked up. He has demons in his head. He’s obviously chaotic all over the place, but there’s some wisdom to the perspective he takes on the world. Even though he is often full of shit, he’s able to predict certain things that very few people are willing to bring up. So isn’t Trump the same way? Fucked up person, egomaniac, whatever personality things you can talk about, isn’t it worthwhile to lay it out? Like who’s going to, if you listen to interviews of Trump, who has the balls to call him out on his bullshit?


No, calling out somebody on their bullshit is easy when you’re just being adversarial. But as a person who is genuinely and pathetically trying to understand, I think you’re really good at that. Like you pulled…

Joe Rogan (31:34):

I don’t know if he would genuinely be there. You know what I’m saying? Like I think he would be putting on a performance.

Lex Fridman (31:41):

And that’s… You don’t think he can break through that in like 30 minutes?

Joe Rogan (31:44):

I’d need more time than that. And he doesn’t do any drugs. That’s the thing about Alex. You can get Alex high, get him drunk and he’ll start talking about interdimensional child molesters. And then you get the real Alex.

Lex Fridman (31:47):

That’s the thing about Alex. You can get Alex high, get him drunk and he’ll start talking about interdimensional child molesters. And then you get the real Alex. Or maybe you have somebody else on as well to introduce chaos like Alex.

Joe Rogan (32:02):

No, no, no, no. They have to be one of them. I would have to be just me and him. I would have to… That would be a focused thing. I would have to like really take time with Trump. But also I’m not well versed enough politically to know all of the corruption that’s been alleged and to understand what the whole Russiagate stuff, what’s real. Like how much of it… It’s clear that there is more than one organization that’s involved in communicating with Russia before the 2016 election. So it’s pretty clear that the Clinton administration was involved. It’s pretty clear that the Trump administration had some communication with some people in Russia. It’s pretty clear that Hunter Biden had some very suspicious dealings in Ukraine. And there’s a lot going on there.


It’s hard for anybody to parse. It’s really hard for anybody. And especially to have an objective assessment of exactly what’s going on. And then to be able to do that and broadcast it publicly. That’s quite a project. And I think if you really want to do that correctly, it’s something that I would have to research for a long time and to really, really… And I don’t have that kind of time.

Lex Fridman (33:21):

Not for maybe for certain people that you’re really curious about. Like you have that kind of time for Bob Lazar.

Joe Rogan (33:27):

Yes, yes. But maybe not for Donald Trump. No, that’s different. Because Bob Lazar, what he’s talking about… I wanted to know, with the Bob Lazar thing, I wanted to know, first of all, I want to be around him and see if I could smell bullshit. Did you? No. Okay. No, I didn’t, man. That was what’s weird about it. Not only did I not smell bullshit, I went over all of his interviews. He hasn’t done a lot, but he’s done enough. And he’s done them over the course of 30-plus years. And it’s alarming how consistent his story is, which is really weird when you think about, you’re talking about back-engineering alien crafts and working on a top-secret government test site that’s carved into the side of a mountain and to camouflage it from satellites.


And it’s such a wacky story. But the guy really did work at Los Alamos Labs. He really is a propulsions expert. He really is a scientist. Did he really work on back-engineering UFOs? I don’t know. But the way he described their motion is exactly like what’s been observed by some of these pilots that have these videos that they’ve captured.

Lex Fridman (34:42):

And I just love that NASA, I’ve been hearing from a bunch of folks who they’re legitimately like funding research and there’s people really taking this seriously of UFO sightings, investigating them, like adding more and more sensors to collect data from just observing at higher and higher definitions. It’s cool to finally see that. And he was one of the early people, whether he’s full of shit or not, that kind of forced people to start taking these topics seriously.

Joe Rogan (35:12):

Or at least forced people to have conversations about them and maybe attempt to debunk them because it seems so preposterous, but then get sucked down the rabbit hole and start going, hmm, maybe. The thing is like the Fermi paradox, like where are they, right? And when you take into account just the sheer raw numbers, the vast majority of people objectively assume that there is life out there, the vast majority. Well, if you really take into account what we understand about the universe itself, what we understand about the concept of infinity and the way Neil deGrasse Tyson has explained it to me is that not only are there life forms out there, but there’s you, you are out there. Infinity is so large that Lex Friedman exists and doesn’t just exist, but exists an infinite number of times. Like the amount of interactions that cells and molecules, the same exact interactions that have happened here on earth have happened in the exact same order an infinite number of times in the cosmos.

Lex Fridman (36:23):

Well, first of all, it’s not certain that that’s true. It’s possible. It’s possible. Like Sean Carroll, especially with quantum mechanics, based on certain interpretation of quantum mechanics, that’s very possible. But the question is, can you access those universes?


Right, how far away are they? The more sort of specific practical question is, this local pocket of the universe, our galaxy, or our neighboring galaxies, are there aliens there? What do they look like? Are they, so you can have this panspermia idea where a much larger, like daddy civilization, like rolled by and just planted a few aliens at a similar time.

Joe Rogan (37:09):

Like Prometheus.

Lex Fridman (37:10):

Yes, a different, you know, throughout the galaxy. And those are the ones we might be interacting with. They’re all kind of dumb as we are, relatively. You know, maybe a few million years apart. And then those are the ones we’re interacting with. And then we have a chance to actually connect with them, communicate with them. Or it could be like much more wide open and you have these gigantic alien civilizations that are expanding very, very quickly. And the interesting thing is when you look up at the sky and you see the stars, that’s light from those stars.


We might not be seeing the alien civilizations until they’re already here. Meaning like you start expanding. Once you get really good at expanding, you’re going to be expanding very close to the speed of light. So right now we don’t see much in the sky, but there could be one day we wake up and it’s just like everywhere and they’re here.

Joe Rogan (38:04):

Right, because of the amount of time the light takes to reach us. Yeah, and then the thing that I’ve been really fascinated by is these alternative forms of transportation that they’re discussing. Like the ability to harness wormholes and the ability to do things that a type three civilization is capable of. I had Michio Kaku on my podcast recently. Fantastic, love that guy. He’s so good at taking extremely complex concepts and boiling them down for digestion and saying them in a way that other people can appreciate.

Lex Fridman (38:45):

And not being hesitant about saying wild, crazy shit that’s out there, but grounded in what’s actually possible.

Joe Rogan (38:52):

Yeah, he’s all in on this UFO phenomenon now. He’s like, now the burden of proof is for people to come up with some sort of a conventional explanation for these things. He goes, because these things are defying all the concepts of physics that we currently know in terms of what our capabilities are and propulsion systems and so many other things that what we know about what current science is capable of reproducing. As far as what we know, the problem is like these military projects that are top secret. Like how much money do they have? They have a lot of money.


Is it possible, and maybe you could speak to this, is it possible that there could be some propulsion systems that have been developed and implemented that are far beyond just a simple burning of rocket fuel, pushing the fire out the back, which forces the rocket at extreme speeds forward? That’s something that does harness gravity, something that can distort space and time and can make travel from one point to another preposterously fast.

Lex Fridman (40:06):

Well, not only is it possible, I think it’s likely that that kind of stuff would be kept a secret. It’s just everything you see about the way, either if it’s contractors like Lockheed Martin, or if it’s DOD, the actual departments of defense, they operate in complete secrecy. Just even looking at the history of the stealth fighter, just even the stealth technology was kept a secret for a very, very long time. And not until you’re ready to use it and need to use it does it become public. And not officially public, it just is being detected out in the wild. So there’s going to be a process where you’re secretly testing it, and that might creep up, which is maybe what we’re seeing. And then it’s waiting for the next big war, the next big reason to use the thing. And so, yeah, there’s definitely technologies now. There might not be propulsion technologies. There could be AI surveillance technologies. There could be different kinds of stealth drones. There could be, it could be also in cyberspace, like cyber war weapons, all that kind of stuff. They’re obviously going to become secret.

Joe Rogan (41:23):

I’m very skeptical lately. And the reason why I’m skeptical is the government keeps talking about it. The Pentagon keeps talking about it. NASA keeps talking about it.

Lex Fridman (41:33):

In which direction are you skeptical?

Joe Rogan (41:35):

I’m skeptical that they’re aliens. I think most likely it’s a smokescreen. And most likely these are some sort of like incredibly advanced drones that they’ve developed that they want to pretend don’t exist. That seems the more likely scenario. Cause otherwise, my take is like, what’s the benefit of them discussing these things? Like what’s the benefit of them discussing these things openly? These are, you know, the way they described it, off world crafts, not made from this earth. Like why, why would they tell us that? I mean, unless there’s an imminent danger of us being invaded and they want to prepare people so they don’t freak out as much. You know, like maybe freak them out a little bit, say that publicly, the New York Times article, the Pentagon discussing it, all these different things happening. Test the waters. Yeah, well let people know that this is a thing.


My take is like that, I don’t think they do that. I don’t think they tell us. I think the government has a lot of contempt for the citizens, I really do. I think they have contempt for our intelligence. They have contempt for our need to know things. And I also think they think that they are running us. It’s not we’re all in this together and the government works for the people and the government is of the people. I don’t think they think that way.

Lex Fridman (43:01):

Yeah, the basic idea is you can’t trust the populace, the government itself, because we’re a bunch of idiots.

Joe Rogan (43:08):

I think that’s accurate.

Lex Fridman (43:09):

Okay, well, they’re not wrong, but they’re also idiots, power hungry idiots.

Joe Rogan (43:14):

Yeah, I don’t think everyone’s an idiot, but I think there are enough idiots that it becomes a real problem if you’re completely honest about everything you do. And you don’t want to let everybody weigh in about things that are incredibly complex and that most people are ignorant of.

Lex Fridman (43:31):

Okay, and on top of that, there’s this machine of intelligence. Now, I’ve recently been reading a lot about the KGB, about the FSB, so several things sparked my curiosity. So one, I’m traveling to Ukraine and to Moscow. And because of that, I started to sort of ask practical questions of myself, just travel and all those kinds of things. So I started reading a lot about the KGB. Jack Barsky has a book on this, I talked to him.


And you start to realize, you probably looked into some of this, but you just start to realize the scale of surveillance and manipulation. Now, a lot of them also talk about the incompetence of those organizations. The usual bureaucracy creeps in. But the point is, it seems like there’s no line they’re not willing to cross for the purpose of gathering intelligence, for the purpose of controlling people in order to gather intelligence. Now, this is MI6, FSB. There’s not much information about the FSB or the GRU, but the KGB. So we’re always like 20 years behind or more on the actual information. And so I started to wonder.


So I have not officially been contacted by any intelligence agency. But I started to wonder, well, is there somebody I know that’s doing that? Undercover CIA or undercover FSB, undercover anything? You probably do. Have you asked yourself this question?

Joe Rogan (45:03):

Yeah, for sure. Yeah, people that have been on my podcast. Yeah, for sure.

Lex Fridman (45:08):

You think there was actually a guest that may have been? 100%. Oh, man. I imagine. Would you know? I have suspicions. Do you care? Is this?

Joe Rogan (45:20):

I mean, it depends on what they’re attempting to do, right? Like if I felt like there was some deception involved and they were trying to use the podcast to manipulate a narrative in a deceptive way to trick people into things, yeah, I would care.

Lex Fridman (45:37):

But this is exactly what, those are the kinds of things they do. They do plant narratives.

Joe Rogan (45:43):

I mean, I would imagine if you have the number one podcast in the world that people would wanna infiltrate that.

Lex Fridman (45:50):

Yeah, there’s probably meetings in all major intelligence agencies about, okay, what are the large platforms? How do we spread the message?

Joe Rogan (46:01):

Yeah, well, I mean, that’s the thing that really emerged when we were talking about during my cancellation, that there’s a clear, there’s no objective analysis of this in mainstream media. There’s clear narratives that they’re trying to push forward whether it’s to promote certain ideas or to diminish the power and reach of people who are mavericks or people who are, who aren’t connected to a system that you can’t compromise. That’s where it gets dangerous, right? Where it gets dangerous is when someone has the largest reach but is also completely detached and clearly is independent in the sense of independent thinking, has on whoever he wants. But your mind can still be manipulated. I guess I can. I mean, I guess everybody can be manipulated a certain way. I manipulate my own mind, I’m sure too. But I also spend a lot of time thinking about what I think.


I don’t just accept things. Like the UFO thing, like I was all in for a while and now I’m like, man, something smells fishy. And then I’m thinking like, here’s my problem with the UFO thing. I want it to be real so bad. That’s my problem with it. I’m such a sucker.


I want it to be real so bad, you know? And that’s a problem for me because I’m aware of it. And so then I stop and think about like, what is my desire for UFO truth to be exposed? Well, it’s because it’s fun. You know, that’s what it is. So I have a desire for it to be real.

Lex Fridman (47:46):

And I mean, I’ve talked to a bunch of folks about this. So those with connection with DOD. And they do draw lines between people that are full of shit and people who are not. There’s a lot of people in the public sphere that they say are full of shit. Yeah, for sure. And you have to kind of tell the difference.

Joe Rogan (48:08):

Yeah, CNN, watch them talk.

Lex Fridman (48:10):

Well, I mean, even that. Yes, that’s the picture. But I mean, it’s on the UFO topic. There’s certain individuals that are like, okay, they’re just like using this. In fact, like people who are not full of shit are often very quiet, which is why even Bob Lazar is an interesting story because he was trying to be quiet for the longest time.

Joe Rogan (48:29):

Well, he was worried about his own life, according to Bob. And that’s why he went public with it. And initially, the first videos he did with George Knapp, they hid his identity. And then he felt like that wasn’t enough. And he really needed to expose his own identity just to protect his life, which is a great story. So you gotta go, well, that seems so juicy. I wanna buy into it. And that’s where I get nervous. You don’t know who to trust in this world.

Lex Fridman (48:55):

Exactly. How do you figure that out? How do you figure out who to trust in your life? You’re Joe Rogan. A lot of people want to be close to you. CIA agents, FSB agents, people that…

Joe Rogan (49:07):

I’m friends with a former CIA agent, Mike Baker, who’s been on my podcast a bunch of times. Allegedly former. Former. Think about that. He’s air quotes, former. Yeah, I don’t believe he’s former. I’m sure he has some connection to him. I also believe he’s a good guy. But I gain a lot of very intelligent and well-informed insights from him as to how things work. And, you know, I think, yeah, I’m sure he doesn’t tell me everything about everything, but he’s told me enough where I think I can understand things better from talking to him about how the way, you know, the elves work under the machine.

Lex Fridman (49:47):

What about friends? How do you know if you can trust? Well, most of my friends are old friends. Time. So time is the thing. Like just going through shit together. Yeah, and also people…

Joe Rogan (49:59):

You know, first of all, comics.

Lex Fridman (50:02):

You can trust comics? Yeah. Is that how that works?

Joe Rogan (50:05):

Pretty trustworthy. The good ones. The really good ones. There’s not that many of us. If there’s a thousand professional comics on earth, I’d be stunned. I’d be stunned. I don’t even think there’s a thousand. Like real professionals who you get booked all the time, headline weekends at clubs and theaters and arenas. And then there’s levels to that, right? There’s like the guys who are middle acts who kind of like barely scrape by, and then like how many headliners are there? How many like really funny headliners that I would say, you know, if you Lex, you tell me you’re going to be in Cincinnati. Hey, this person’s playing at this club. Should I go see them?


I’d be like, huh? You know, like how many people would I give the recommendation to? And then how many people sell out theaters? How many people sell out arenas? How many people… There’s not that fucking many. So those people, like at the levels of comedy where you’d be doing standup for 20 years, there’s a certain amount of honesty and a certain amount of understanding of each other that we all have.

Lex Fridman (51:09):

Oh, so that process of becoming a great comic is like humbling in the way like jiu-jitsu is humbling.

Joe Rogan (51:12):

Very similar.

Lex Fridman (51:15):

Like you’ve eaten so much shit that somehow, even if you’re insane, even if you’re chaotic, even in the way, even if you’re full of shit, you lie a lot, all those kinds of things, underneath it, there’s a good human. You could be surface bullshitter, but on important things, you’re trustworthy.

Joe Rogan (51:34):

Hopefully. I mean, if you’re not, then people shy away from you. And there are people like that too that are really successful, but that are what I call islands. I’ve talked to other comics about that. Like you don’t want to be an island because there’s these people that aren’t attached to the rest of the community and they’re doing well on their own. And usually they have like one opening act they bring with them on the road, they’ve worked with forever and they don’t have comedy friends. And those people are miserable because they can’t relate.

Lex Fridman (52:04):

Sometimes fame in itself is isolating. So you have to actually do a lot of work and make sure you don’t, it doesn’t isolate you. Because if you become successful, people start wanting stuff from you. And then sometimes you want to push them away because of that, as opposed to connect with them.

Joe Rogan (52:22):

Yeah, I don’t enjoy it when people want things from me. It’s not fun. You just ignore it. Yeah, it’s too heavy. They want too much. And it’s too much of a disproportionate relationship. It’s too unbalanced. Because there are people where you could tell that they’re working towards something. They’re working towards an angle and they want to be close to you because you will benefit them. And then there’s other people that are just, there’s not that many of us. And so we all want to hang out together. Like one of the podcasts I love the most is this podcast I do called Protect Our Parks. It’s a thing I do with Ari Shaffir, Shane Gillis and Mark Millar. It’s so fun because we just get obliterated and we talk so much shit. Like there’s conversations after that podcast where I go, hey man, we got to cut that part out. Because like Shane will go too far, go too crazy, but we’re just making each other laugh and it’s just fun. And it’s like that kind of camaraderie between real comics is very precious to me.

Lex Fridman (53:23):

My favorite part of that is like the non sequitur stuff from Mark Norman. And you guys get so trashed that you don’t even understand what the hell he’s talking about. But it’s funny to the listener because he’s still on point. That guy’s sharp. He’s got that Midge Hedberg quality.

Joe Rogan (53:39):

Well, he’s such a dedicated comic. He loves comedy so much. That’s one of the things I love about him. He’s like comedy. He gets excited. He loves it. It’s as does Shane and as does Ari. They really love it. So there’s that. Like I have friends in that way and I have martial arts friends who are some of the, also the thing about being humbled, how things like jujitsu will humble you. Martial arts friends are, they’re also, they know who’s been through it. They know who really has gone through the gauntlet and emerged on the other end, a better person.

Lex Fridman (54:20):

Yeah. You said there’s very few of us. Let’s have the goat discussion. You’re not gonna pick anybody, but who are the greats of comedy? Who’s the greatest comic of all time?

Joe Rogan (54:30):

I don’t think there is a greatest comic of all time. Is it Norm Macdonald? Norm Macdonald was one of the greats, for sure.

Lex Fridman (54:38):

Well, by the way, actually on that topic, what do you think about is, I think as a person who is fascinated by the fear of death and death, I think it was a truly genius thing to release a special after you’re dead. I don’t know how that worked. I haven’t seen a special, have you? Yeah, it’s called, I think, nothing special.

Joe Rogan (54:60):

Which sounds like something Norm would say.

Lex Fridman (55:02):

And it’s basically him in front of, I mean, I imagine he wouldn’t would have wanted it edited that way because it’s made to look nicer than I think he probably would have preferred it. But it’s him in front of the screen, like on a Zoom call, doing jokes without that cold. Really? Yeah. And somehow given his dry, dark humor, it works. Because it’s almost making fun of itself. Almost making fun of that whole, that we were stuck alone inside because he’s still acting as if he’s in front of the audience and is almost making fun of the fact that this is what we’re forced to do. I mean, it’s quite genius. It’s really well, and the jokes are really good, but it also makes you realize how important laughter is from the audience, the energy from the audience.


But there’s also an intimacy because it’s just you and him, because you’re listening to it. You know there’s no audience. So that’s, I don’t know, I think it’s quite genius. And he’s, of course, there’s certain comics that are like, not only are they funny, but they’re truly unique.


And like they’re, not in terms of friendship and all that kind of stuff, but in terms of comedy, they’re an island. Yeah. It’s like they, you know, Mitch Hedberg probably is that. Of course, a lot of people then start to imitate them and so on, but. Steven Wright. Steven Wright. I mean, there’s like people who are like, you know, Dave Chappelle, who’s like probably one of the greats, but he’s just like raw funny. Yeah. I don’t know if he’s an island. He’s just raw.

Joe Rogan (56:43):

Oh yeah, I know what you’re saying. An outlier, unique individual. Yeah, he’s just great. Norm was definitely unique in his greatness. Like there’s only one Norm, you know, who’s got a very specific style.

Lex Fridman (56:56):

Is there a reason you guys weren’t, it doesn’t seem like he was, you guys were close.

Joe Rogan (57:00):

Yeah. I loved him. He was great. I always enjoyed talking to him. We just didn’t work together that often. We weren’t around each other that often. That’s all it was. But it wasn’t like, it was, I loved him though. He was a great guy. I had a funny story about Norm. Twice, just randomly. I was on airplanes next to him. Yeah. Seated right next to him. Just totally random. Yeah. And one time, we’re on this airplane and we’re having this talk and I was like, yeah, I quit smoking. I was smoking a lot and I just had terrible, terrible smoke. It’s terrible for you. And we have this great conversation. We get off the plane and he sprints towards a store and buys cigarettes like in the airport and is lighting it on the way out the door. And I go, I thought you quit smoking those. Yeah, I did. But all that talking about smoking made me want to smoke again.


Before he’s getting through the door of the airport, he’s lighting it up. I can’t wait. He can’t wait to get that cigarette in him. He was just so crazy and impulsive and loved to gamble, loved gambling.

Lex Fridman (58:10):

And in that way, he embodied the joke. You can’t even tell. There’s certain people who just live in a non-sequitur, ridiculous, absurd, funny way.

Joe Rogan (58:23):

Yeah. That was him. Nonstop. There was nothing artificial about Norm. That was who he was. His brilliance was his essence. That was who he was. You know, but in terms of like the greats, the godfather of it all is Lenny Bruce. I mean, I have a bunch of Lenny Bruce concert posters at my house and photos that I have framed. And Whitney Cummings actually gave me this brilliant photo of him when he got arrested for one of the times when he got arrested for saying obscene jokes.


He was the most important figure in the early days of comedy because he essentially gave birth to the modern art form of standup comedy. Before that, it was a bunch of guys that were like hosting shows and they would tell jokes. They would just like, you know, two guys walking to a bar, that kind of stuff. And he would talk about social issues. You know, he would talk about life. He would talk about language. He would talk about laws. And it was just, he was the very first guy who did modern standup. And what’s fascinating is if you go and you try to watch it, if you try to watch Lenny Bruce today, it doesn’t work because society has evolved. Like in many ways, art is a window, especially like pop culture art or modern, you know, at the time, culture art, art that discusses culture is a window into that time period. It’s a little bit of a time machine. So you get to like, you have to put yourself, like what was it like to be in 1963? Like what was he saying in 1963? What was this like to hear him say this?


And the civilization that existed in 1963, although it looked pretty similar, they’re all driving cars and they’re all wearing suits and it seems normal, it’s a different world. And the things that he was saying that are so taboo are so normal today that they’re not shocking and it’s not that good. It’s not that funny.

Lex Fridman (01:00:38):

Yeah, you have to do the same kind of stuff for, like there’s DH Lawrence, there’s a book called Lady Shadowy’s Lover. And I know it sounds ridiculous, but it was one of the early books, I believe at the, over a century ago, that was very controversial for its sexual content. It’s sort of one of the great books because it dared to actually talk about a woman cheating on her husband and do so in the highest form. And the same thing with Gulag Archipelago talking about some of the darkest aspects of human history right when all of that stuff is forbidden, when it’s banned. Because now it’s like, you know, yes, we all know this history, but when in the middle of it, when you’re risking your own life, when you’re risking your book being banned or burned or you being in prison, that’s when it matters, like taking that risk.

Joe Rogan (01:01:30):

Yeah, and no one took that risk more than Lenny Bruce. Lenny Bruce was arrested many, many times and ultimately it wound up costing him his life. I mean, he died on the bathroom floor shooting heroin and trying to cope with all the lawsuits that he was going through. I mean, this guy was constantly being arrested and constantly going through lawsuits. And then his comedy deteriorated horribly. There’s some footage of him towards the end of his career where he essentially would go on stage with legal papers and read from the legal papers about his case. From then, it’s Richard Pryor. From him, then the next great is Richard Pryor. And he had the most profound impact on me when I was a kid.


When I was 15 years old, my parents took me to see Live at the Sunset Strip, which is a Richard Pryor’s concert film. And I remember very distinctly being in that audience and laughing and looking around at all the people in the audience who were like falling out of their chairs, just dying laughing, just swaying back and forth. And I was laughing hard too. And I was like, my God, this guy’s doing this just by talking.


I thought of all the great movies that I’d seen that I loved that were hilarious comedy movies. And I was like, nothing that I’ve ever seen is as funny as this. And all he’s doing is talking. And that planted a seed in my head for my love of standup comedy and my curiosity about the art form. And that’s what got me interested in watching it on television and then ultimately going to open mic nights and then eventually doing it.

Lex Fridman (01:03:05):

I’ve actually been going to open mics a lot recently, just listening. For psychological examinations of people. No, it’s actually really inspiring to me to see people that some are funny, some are not so funny, unapologetically trying, putting it all out there night after night, like eating shit. My favorite is when you’re talking about like five people in the audience and the jokes are just not landing. And they still, I don’t know. It feels like even just empathetically, there’s few things as difficult as that.

Joe Rogan (01:03:46):

It’s hard. I still remember those days. Many comics will say this, and I think Dane Cook was the first person I heard say it publicly, that if he ever had to go back and do it again, like from scratch, doesn’t think he could do it. Doesn’t think he could endure the struggle of open mic to ultimately to success. And the numbers of people that try it and fail versus try and succeed are off the charts. I don’t know if there’s any other art form that has such a low rate of success.

Lex Fridman (01:04:19):

Because it’s psychological, it’s torture.

Joe Rogan (01:04:21):

It is torture, and it’s also not something you can learn. Like, here’s the thing. If you play guitar, you can learn to play guitar. Someone can teach you the chords. And if you do it, you could do all along the watchtower. You could play it. You can’t teach someone how to do comedy.

Lex Fridman (01:04:41):

You think it’s you’re funny or not, or can you still figure it out?

Joe Rogan (01:04:46):

Like, can you still learn? You can figure it out, yeah. Can you be unfun, can you start unfun,

Lex Fridman (01:04:49):

can you start being unfunny and become funny?

Joe Rogan (01:04:52):

Yes, it’s possible. It’s not easy though.

Lex Fridman (01:04:56):

You’re gonna have to eat a lot of shit.

Joe Rogan (01:04:57):

You’re gonna have to eat a lot of shit and you’re gonna have to examine why you’re not funny. And you’re gonna have to spend a lot of time with uncomfortable thoughts and try to figure out what it is. Like, what’s missing? You know, could you edit your stuff and make it better? Maybe you need to do drugs. Maybe you need to get involved in psychedelic drugs and rethink the way you interface with reality itself. Maybe you need your heart broken. Maybe you need to be in love. Maybe, there’s a lot of maybes there. Like, maybe you just need more life experience. But when I started comedy, I was 21 and I was a moron. I had no information.


I could do impressions of people and I could talk about sex. Those are the things that I was interested in back then. I mean, if I was talking philosophically, I didn’t have a philosophy. I didn’t have a unique perspective on life. I hadn’t experienced much.

Lex Fridman (01:05:53):

So every time you bomb, it forces you to introspect, to ask questions to yourself, and then that’s how you actually develop a philosophy. Yeah. Of what you actually believe.

Joe Rogan (01:06:02):

You learn through doing. And I think you could say that about podcasting too. You know, I’m certainly way better at having conversations than I ever was when I first started doing comedy. Or, excuse me, when I first started doing podcasts.

Lex Fridman (01:06:15):

You learn to stick with a kid because one day you’ll be able to interview Donald Trump. You’d be mad enough to handle that conversation. How hard is it to do? Because I’ve been really curious. It’s been on my bucket list because I’m terrified.

Joe Rogan (01:06:31):

I want to do everything I’m terrified of. You don’t just stand up?

Lex Fridman (01:06:33):

No. No, but I do want to do like one five minute, like open mic.

Joe Rogan (01:06:38):

Why don’t you do Kill Tony?

Lex Fridman (01:06:39):

How hard is it to do five minutes, would you say? It’s hard.

Joe Rogan (01:06:43):

Well, it depends on, you know, how long you’ve been thinking about doing comedy. It depends on how you look at things. And also it depends on your style of comedy. Like the most difficult style of comedy is like, I think like Steven Wright style is probably the most difficult style of comedy, complete non-sequiturs. One subject doesn’t lead into the next. There’s no flow to it. It’s just, I noticed this, I noticed that. And then there’s this, and then there’s that. And that’s hard to memorize. And it’s really hard to piece together an hour of non-sequiturs.

Lex Fridman (01:07:16):

But it’s easier because you can rely on the joke. It sits more with the joke. Like whether you’re funny or not is on the actual material, versus like the timing and the energy, the dance with the audience, right? Because like if you don’t have the raw jokes, like Steven Wright does or Mitch Hedberg, then you have to, it’s all about the delivery.

Joe Rogan (01:07:38):

Yeah, and yeah, they either kill or they bomb.

Lex Fridman (01:07:43):

Is it random? Whether they kill or bomb?

Joe Rogan (01:07:46):

Yeah. Well, I mean, you’re essentially a different person every day of your life. You’re similar, but you’re more tired. You’re more rested. You’re exhausted. You’re refreshed. You have vitamins and food and nourishment in your system. You just get your heart broken. You haven’t slept in days. You’re a different person all the time. And you go onto that stage. You’re in the neighborhood of who Lex Friedman is. You’re in the Lex Friedman neighborhood. Which Lex Friedman am I gonna get?

Lex Fridman (01:08:18):

Yeah. You know? Energy levels. Yeah. It depends. It all depends. But oh, the other thing with Kill Tony is it’s videotaped. So you eating shit.

Joe Rogan (01:08:29):

It is on there forever. Forever. The world can see it. But it’s one of the most important shows in comedy. It’s the most important show in comedy. Because first of all, it establishes a stand up in a sense that for the open micers, for the people that are starting it out, it establishes that the most important thing is to be funny. This is what the art form is all about. And there’s a lot of insecurity attached to that. A lot of fears. And so to alleviate some of those insecurities and fears, people will decide that the message is more important.


And they’ll pretend that you have to be socially aware that you have to promote things that are positive in your comedy. Which is bullshit. The people that say that, they’re all bad. They’re all bad at comedy. And that’s where the insecurity is. It’s like they can’t just kill. So they have to pretend that they’re supposed to be socially aware. That being socially aware is an important part into society. Let me explain something really clearly. It’s not a fucking person on earth who’s ever changed their life because of a joke.


That’s not what they’re there for. They’re there for jokes. The people that say that, they say that socially important comedy is the only comedy that’s necessary. The only comedy that you have to do. That is just because they suck. That is it. It’s like the cop out is that they can’t do the real comedy. They can’t crush. It’s not like someone goes from being, take like Shane Gillis, one of the best comics up and coming right now. He’s fucking fantastic. I can’t recommend enough seeing that guy live. I worked with him in Irvine and I hadn’t seen like his whole set. I was crying. I mean, he’s so good.

Lex Fridman (01:10:18):

I heard he’s a racist. So I haven’t listened to any of his material.

Joe Rogan (01:10:23):

He’s so good. And his comedy is just trying to be as funny as possible. There’s not a chance in hell that guy’s just gonna go woke. And he’s just gonna start promoting some sort of, socially conscious agenda that’s facetious and just a bunch of nonsense that he’s trying to elevate his own personal brand and virtue signal. That’s not gonna happen.


The thing about Kill Tony is in that, because you only have one minute and because it’s live and because you don’t want Tony shitting on you, everybody else shitting on you, everybody’s just gearing up to try to be as funny as possible. And no one cares if you are gay or straight or Asian or black or trans or non-binary, nobody gives a fuck. Are you funny? If you’re funny, you’re in and everybody loves you. You could be 80, you could be 20. Nobody gives a shit. You could be a woman or a man or ambiguous. Nobody fucking cares. Are you funny? And that’s the most important thing for a community of comedy to really promote comedy. Just funny, just be funny. And so in that sense, Kill Tony is a real cornerstone of comedy.

Lex Fridman (01:11:38):

It’s a reminder of what comedy is supposed to be. That said, even the funniest stuff has underneath it some wisdom that comes out of it, but that’s not the primary goal of it.

Joe Rogan (01:11:49):

Yeah, I mean, it might be inspiring and fun. Oh, Tim Dillon’s a great example of that. He’s got some amazing insights in his comedy, but it’s still, it’s fucking comedy. It’s all about the funny. Yeah, it’s all of the funny. He’s the best at doing that, especially in a podcast form, but weaving really important points in with hilarious, obviously just jokes.

Lex Fridman (01:12:16):

Let me ask you, speaking of Tim Dillon, a chaotic fucked up individual, can we go to your childhood real quick? A brief stroll. So your mom and dad split up when you were five. From a young-ing perspective, if you look at your subconscious, what impact do you think that had on you? Informing who you are as a man, as a human being.

Joe Rogan (01:12:42):

At the time, I thought that my father was like a hero. He was my dad. I think every kid thinks like that about his dad. His dad is like, your dad’s your protector. Your dad is like the coolest guy in the world. That’s what you like. Yeah, yeah, everybody wants to be like their dad, especially if your dad is like an imposing figure. I remember one time me and my cousin got in a fight over nothing. It was like over who’s tougher, King Kong or Godzilla.

Lex Fridman (01:13:09):

Yeah, over nothing. That’s an important, but yeah.

Joe Rogan (01:13:13):

And he’s like, oh, I punched him in the face. And- This is when you were like five?

Lex Fridman (01:13:20):

Yeah, yeah. And so- Which side were you on?

Joe Rogan (01:13:23):

King Kong. Okay. I was wrong. Godzilla’s like way bigger. Godzilla’s 500 feet tall and he shoots fire out of his mouth.

Lex Fridman (01:13:31):

Yeah. Are you sure? I mean, there’s an argument to be made. It’s not all about size, right?

Joe Rogan (01:13:38):

No, there’s no argument to be made. 500 feet tall versus 50 feet tall. One’s a gigantic dinosaur. One is a stupid monkey who gets shot down by a plane.

Lex Fridman (01:13:48):

You can’t kill Godzilla. No.

Joe Rogan (01:13:50):

No, you can’t kill Godzilla with a plane. Like that shit wouldn’t work in Godzilla. Killed King Kong. King Kong in the new movies kept growing. It’s getting bigger and bigger, yeah, yeah. It got to the point where he- Like that shit wouldn’t work in Godzilla. Killed King Kong. King Kong in the new movies kept growing. It’s getting bigger and bigger, yeah, yeah. It got to the point where he’s as big as Godzilla.

Lex Fridman (01:14:06):

It just feels like King Kong is stronger. Stop. Back take, back take, immediate back take. You don’t think there’s a back take? There’s a difference between- If he’s the same size. Human weapons and two animals going at it of a different size. You don’t think there’s, in the jungle, a smaller animal could take on a bigger animal. Like a monkey versus a, let’s see, a lion.


Monkey versus a bear. What? Who wins? A monkey versus a bear? Not a monkey, not a monkey. What’s the strongest ape? No, but gorilla, okay, gorilla can’t do back takes. I’m thinking of like a smaller, you know what I’m saying? Because in jiu-jitsu, you see this all the time.

Joe Rogan (01:14:47):

Do you remember that scene in Talladega Nights? Do you know Talladega Nights, where the little boy’s talking to his grandpa? I’ll be all over you like a spider monkey.

Lex Fridman (01:14:56):

Exactly, spider monkey, I was thinking.

Joe Rogan (01:14:59):

All right, there’s some animals, like here’s a better example, a wolverine. Wolverines chase wolves and bears off of their kills. And they’re not very big at all. They’re just so ferocious, and they’re so durable. Like it’s very hard to kill a wolverine.

Lex Fridman (01:15:13):

Yeah, and there’s videos of like cats, like not actual cats, like domestic cats, or domestic dogs starting shit with much larger animals. Yeah. And if they’re ferocious enough.

Joe Rogan (01:15:25):

Well, pit bulls are a great example of that. Pit bulls are small, like real game bred pit bulls are like 35, 45 pounds, and they’ll kill much larger dogs.

Lex Fridman (01:15:34):

Anyway, you were on King Kong’s side. Yeah, so shit out of your cousin.

Joe Rogan (01:15:39):

I remember he said to me, like I thought I was in like real trouble, because I remember my cousin’s mom was yelling at me, and I was like, you monster, all this crazy shit. So my dad got me alone, and he said, tell me what happened. And I told him, you know, we got in a fight, we were arguing, we were King Kong, Godzilla, and I punched him in the face. And he goes, did you cry? I go, no. He goes, good, don’t ever cry. And I remember that, like whoa, okay. And I remember thinking, all right, I’m just gonna start punching people, because like, obviously my dad thinks it’s a good idea if I go running around punching people, as long as I don’t cry. I remember certain things about, you know, and also, like this is, again, like we were talking about watching Lenny Bruce and getting a timeline of what the world was like back then. This is a different world. You know, in 1970, this would’ve been 1972. It’s a different world back then, man, like a really different world.

Lex Fridman (01:16:49):

It’s some of that, so Carl Jung talked about the shadow, it’s the unconscious, where you have dark stuff, and oftentimes you use it to project. There’s stuff that you’re very self-critical about yourself, but because it’s in your unconscious, you use it to project onto others. You see it as flaws in others, and that’s a good way to, like whatever, he gives a quote, like everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves. So that’s a nice way to investigate yourself, like something that pisses you off. You start asking questions of your own mind, and that’s how you bring it to the surface. But anyway, from that, those are formative years. From that time, is there still stuff in your unconscious you think you haven’t examined, some dark shit?

Joe Rogan (01:17:40):

I don’t think so. I don’t, I’m not aware if it is, because I’ve looked, you know? Like if someone says, you know, I left something over your house, like where’d you leave it? I don’t know, like all right, I’ll go look. Yeah. I’ll get a real thorough looking. But I’m pretty sure. Pretty sure it’s not there. Yeah. I don’t know, I think I’ve looked. I mean, it certainly had an, I think the positive effect also was compounded by the fact that when my mother married my stepdad, who’s a great guy, who was a hippie, very different, we moved around a lot.


And so the bad thing about that was I didn’t really develop long-term friends. The good thing about that was that I was forced to develop my own opinions about things, instead of adopting an opinion of the neighborhood and the group about anything. I was forced to form my own thoughts and opinions about almost everything. And so it made me much more of an independent thinker. So that on top of the fact that, you know, losing, you know, my quote unquote hero very early on, and then having to form my own opinions about things, it left me with a very, a very independent streak, you know, in terms of, and if I hadn’t done the things that I got interested in, martial arts and then comedy, if I hadn’t gotten interested in those things, I would have been fucked, because I was just too independent for normal jobs. I was too independent for school. I just didn’t want to listen to people. I was too feral. I just didn’t want to sit still. If I was with the wrong parents, especially today, I most certainly would have been medicated.

Lex Fridman (01:19:28):

Yeah, there’s so many possible trajectories you can imagine where you would have not been the person you are today. Oh yeah. This is probably one of the best possible trajectories. You’re living, this particular storyline you’re living through is one of the better ones.

Joe Rogan (01:19:42):

This timeline is as good as it gets for someone like me.

Lex Fridman (01:19:46):

Is there advice you can give to people, to young kids that are living through a shitty situation of any sort, a tough life?

Joe Rogan (01:19:55):

Find a thing you like. Try to find a thing that you really enjoy. Try to find a thing that you’re passionate about. Like an activity. Yes, for me, early on, it was drawing. It was illustrations, it was comic books. I wanted to be a comic book illustrator. And then it went from comic book drawing and illustrations to martial arts. So, but it was just another thing that I was very, very passionate about. And that was my vehicle out of my dilemma. That was my vehicle out of my own anxiety and trauma and my own issues and insecurities.


Find something. Find a thing that you genuinely enjoy because getting good at things you genuinely enjoy is extremely beneficial for young people because it lets you know that, like everybody thinks they’re a loser. Every young person thinks they’re a loser. At least a young person in the situation I was at. I didn’t know I wasn’t a loser until I started winning, till I started doing martial arts. Martial arts taught me that like I could get better at stuff that I wasn’t really a loser. I just was someone who was like in a fucked up situation. But you could channel all that energy that you have as a young person into something and get better at it. And then all of a sudden people admired me. I was like, this is crazy. So I went from being someone who was incredibly insecure and basically a failure to someone who was really successful at this one thing that was very dangerous that other people were scared of. And that gave me immense confidence and also a real understanding of the direct correlation between hard work and success.

Lex Fridman (01:21:42):

And a kind of understanding that you’re not a loser. Right. That there is some diamond in the rough.

Joe Rogan (01:21:49):

Yeah, and also an understanding that you can’t listen to people. Cause even my parents didn’t want me to do martial arts. They didn’t want me to fight. They didn’t want me to do stand up. There’s like, you have to understand like who you are and then in the face of other people’s either criticism or lack of faith in your ability to succeed, you push through and there’s great benefit in that. And then you realize that you can kind of apply that to other things in life. You can apply that to critics. You can apply that to social media commentators. You can apply that to a lot of things.

Lex Fridman (01:22:26):

Okay, what about young people in their fifties? Can you give advice to like, imagine you’re sitting back, probably still here in Texas in your nineties, looking back, what advice would that guy give to you today? Or like people that have done some shit in their fifties, you’ve gone through a hell of a life. There’s potentially some incentive to settle down. You got a great family to relax, but maybe there’s some incentive to still do epic shit, still be David Goggins running in the middle of the desert, screaming shit into a camera.

Joe Rogan (01:23:07):

If you’re David Goggins, you have to be David Goggins. I don’t think there’s a path for that guy that exists at this stage of his life other than that.

Lex Fridman (01:23:16):

Do you think he’ll be 70 and still screaming?

Joe Rogan (01:23:18):

Yes, a hundred percent, a hundred percent. If David and I are alive, we’re both 70, he’s going to call me up and say,

Lex Fridman (01:23:29):

stay hard motherfucker, guaranteed, guaranteed. So lean into whatever the fuck you are at this point.

Joe Rogan (01:23:36):

Well, if you’re enjoying it, but if you’re not enjoying it, rethink your life, try to figure out why you’re not enjoying it.

Lex Fridman (01:23:42):

You still think it’s possible to shift things in your fifties?

Joe Rogan (01:23:45):

Yeah, if you’re alive, you can get better. No matter what? Yeah, no matter what, if you’re alive, you can shift things. I mean, if you’re 90 years old and you have a month to live, you can apologize for the things you think you did wrong and maybe sort of reconcile and shape relationships that you have with the people that are around you better so that they feel differently about you after you’re gone.

Lex Fridman (01:24:08):

Yeah, I always love people in their seventies who are like getting back into dating or something like that.

Joe Rogan (01:24:13):

Yeah, I was watching a video about a woman who’s in her sixties who just started powerlifting.

Lex Fridman (01:24:19):

Nice, and same with jujitsu, you see people get into jujitsu, like a white belt. A white belt that’s like 70, yeah.

Joe Rogan (01:24:26):

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. There’s a lot of, if you’re alive, you can get better at stuff. And I don’t think people are happy if they don’t have puzzles and complex tasks and things that are interesting to them, whether it’s an art project or whether it’s learning something completely new like stand-up comedy. Like doing things that are difficult is, it’s as much of a nourishment of the mind as food is a nourishment of the body. I think you need things that are puzzling to you where you have to find your own human potential in the difficulty of the task and work your way through things, at least for me. For me, I mean, I can only speak for me cause I’m the only life that I’ve ever lived that I’m aware of. And in my life that has been 100% constant. I am a very happy person and I have never had a moment where I’m not doing difficult shit. Yeah.

Lex Fridman (01:25:33):

Ever. What matters most is how well you walk through the fire. So you just keep starting fires for yourself to walk through.

Joe Rogan (01:25:41):

Well, they don’t necessarily have to be fires, right? Because fires are like kind of out of control.

Lex Fridman (01:25:47):

Luke warm.

Joe Rogan (01:25:48):

Tasks. The surfaces. Tasks. Give yourself something, an arduous, difficult task where you’re challenged. Challenged mentally and challenged physically. One of the great things about being challenged physically is it’s also mental. The people that don’t understand that have never really been challenged physically. People that think that physical challenges are just like just physical.


It’s just brute grunt work. It’s not. It’s emotional intelligence. It’s understanding your desire to quit and conquering your inner bitch. All that stuff is, it’s mental. It’s playing out inside your head. And there’s a mental strength that you acquire from that that you can apply to intellectual pursuits. And the people that don’t think that are the people that haven’t attempted them. And there’s an arrogance to people that only pursue intellectual exercises, only pursue intellectual things. And don’t pursue anything physical. That the physical stuff is base. It’s grunt work. It’s primal. It’s not necessary. I don’t think that’s accurate. I don’t think that they’re, I mean, obviously there’s people like Stephen Hawking who have no opportunity to do anything physical.


His physical dilemma is keeping us, or was keeping his heart beating. But for most people, I think you can really benefit from physical struggle. And you benefit from it in a mental way. And I think that is overlooked. That’s unfortunately overlooked by academics and intellectuals who, they make excuses for why they’re fat and lazy or scrawny.

Lex Fridman (01:27:29):

What they don’t need to be, it’s not even about the fat or all of that. It’s like literally, there’s something about the physical challenge that’s really good for you, especially if you’re academic, especially if you do intellectual types though. There’s this great roboticist at MIT, Russ Tedric. He runs barefoot to and from MIT every day. I love it. Like seven to 10 miles each way. Barefoot? Barefoot. Well, he studies legged locomotion, legged robots. So for him, it’s also interesting how the human body moves. He sees the beauty in all movement.

Joe Rogan (01:28:04):

What do his feet look like?

Lex Fridman (01:28:06):

Oh, you know, calloused.

Joe Rogan (01:28:07):

Destroyed, right?

Lex Fridman (01:28:08):

No, just calloused. They’re nice. They form a nice, it’s not like I gave them a foot massage, but I mean, they look, and I don’t have a foot fetish, so I’m not able to correctly evaluate another man’s feet. I apologize for this, but they don’t look fucked up. Does he run on concrete?

Joe Rogan (01:28:28):

Yeah, he runs all surfaces. And he does everything completely barefoot?

Lex Fridman (01:28:34):

The running part at work. So one of the things he has to do is fit into society, which means he has to change clothes and appear normal.

Joe Rogan (01:28:41):

Right. So does he wear like zero shoes? You know, those barefoot type shoes?

Lex Fridman (01:28:47):

No, because that’s like very heppy, woky type of thing. No, like he doesn’t, he’s barefoot when he’s running, and then he wears like normal looking stuff like dress shoes.

Joe Rogan (01:28:57):

How did he work his way up to running barefoot?

Lex Fridman (01:29:01):

So he was significantly overweight. And his advisor, this other famous person at MIT who was a roboticist, took his own life, and that made him, that made Russ face his own mortality, I think. I mean, you start to ask big questions about your wellbeing, like holy shit, this ride can end at any moment. And so he started taking his sort of physical wellbeing seriously, but as a result of that, not that he become like shredded, but he’s also discovered the intellectual value, the humbling value of physical exercise. He’s not preachy about it at all. I don’t think, I actually rarely hear him advise it to anyone. He just does it as a, almost like meditation or something like that.

Joe Rogan (01:29:53):

Definitely a form of meditation, and you can attest to that, right? You do quite a bit of running. There’s a thing about a, phew, phew, phew, phew. You kinda, almost like a mantra gets formed and you get into it.

Lex Fridman (01:30:06):

It was great here in the Austin heat, a hundred degree weather that tests you.

Joe Rogan (01:30:10):

You know what I love to do outside? Pull sleds. That’s my thing. I love to pull sleds outside. In the heat. Yeah, I did today.

Lex Fridman (01:30:19):

Yeah. Yeah, I love it. So you’re also, your wife is incredible. You’re in a relationship. You’re married, you have a great family. What advice would you give to me and to others like me who are dumb fucks and have not found a relationship?

Joe Rogan (01:30:33):

Well, you’re a great guy, so this definitely doesn’t necessarily apply to you, but be someone who someone would wanna be in a relationship with. There’s a lot of people out there that want a great partner. They want someone in a relationship, but why would someone wanna be in a relationship with you? Maybe you bicker a lot. Maybe you’re jealous. Maybe you lie. Maybe you’re cruel. Maybe you don’t have a sense of humor. Maybe you’re not kind. Like what is it about you that people would not enjoy being around or that people avoid? Fix that.

Lex Fridman (01:31:14):

Well, this applies to me as well. Like you said something with Cam Hanes. One of the things you admire is the discipline it takes to sort of juggle so many things and do it successfully. I’m not sure I’m very good at that.

Joe Rogan (01:31:27):

So juggling all this hard work and then also a relationship.

Lex Fridman (01:31:31):

Also relationship, also family, all those kinds of priorities. I mean, that requires having your shit together.

Joe Rogan (01:31:36):

It does. It’s a different thing, but it’s also you gotta find the right person. There’s a lot of people who settle for sexy. They settle for hot. They settle for the wrong person. Like you can get hot and nice. They’re out there, but don’t get hot and mean. Hot and mean is not fun. Then you get Amber Heard.

Lex Fridman (01:31:55):

Yeah. And then you end up in a tribe. Yeah.

Joe Rogan (01:31:59):

You can be deceived by perfect symmetry.

Lex Fridman (01:32:03):

So you don’t think it’s a good idea to record your partner?

Joe Rogan (01:32:06):

I think you should record all conversations. The CIA is doing it no matter what. I assume that every conversation I have is recorded because I’m pretty sure it is.

Lex Fridman (01:32:15):

Even when we had dinner with Alex Jones, he was recording. I still remember that.

Joe Rogan (01:32:20):

I didn’t even know that was recording.

Lex Fridman (01:32:22):

He might, you know what would be funny? If he is the CIA.

Joe Rogan (01:32:26):

He could be. Could be. That’d be the ultimate joke. But that’s my advice about relationships is be somebody and then also like find someone who you can grow with, right? You don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t share your values. You don’t want to be with someone who makes excuses. You don’t want to be with someone who’s lazy or who’s spiteful. You want to be with someone who’s like genuinely kind. That’s one of the things that I really love about my wife and she’s very smart and she works hard.


She’s like, she’s a dedicated, disciplined person, but she’s also really nice. That’s one of the things I liked the most about her. She’s so nice. She’s always smiling.

Lex Fridman (01:33:10):

And that energy is great.

Joe Rogan (01:33:12):

Yeah, I mean, you’ve seen us together. You’ve hung around with us. She’s fun. Yeah, she’s a lot of fun.

Lex Fridman (01:33:16):

Yeah, she makes you just feel great to be alive. It’s good to have people like that around you.

Joe Rogan (01:33:21):

She’s happy. She’s a happy person. She’s happy to be around. That’s the kind of people that you could have in your life as friends and as co-workers and as lovers and wives and husbands. You can find those people. They’re real. And when you find those people, your life is better. To have a good tribe is very important, to have a good tribe of people. And I think if there’s anything that I’m very, very fortunate about, it’s the people that I’m around. I have very good friends, and one of which is you.


It’s so valuable to have quality people around you because it makes you want to do better because you admire the hard work that these people put in, like Mike Hamhaines or Goggins or many of my friends. And people that are generous and people that are curious and people that are honest, they inspire you to do the same. And it’s extremely valuable. It’s one of the most valuable things is to surround yourself with positive, healthy, friendly, generous people.

Lex Fridman (01:34:26):

That’s why I cut out Tim Dillon for my life. I broke up with him. I thought you guys were getting married. No, it’s over. It’s none of those things. The Texas nonstop conspiracy theories, the nonstop mocking of my Eastern European origins is just not healthy for me. Plus, he’s physically abusive and a towering figure, both emotional and physically. No, I love him.

Joe Rogan (01:34:54):

If he worked out, he would be a house. He’s got such a large frame, you know?

Lex Fridman (01:35:00):

So if I interview Putin, what should I ask him?

Joe Rogan (01:35:04):

How’s the cancer? How’s it doing, buddy? That’s question number one in Russian. Do you think he has cancer? I don’t think so. The narrative is terrifying, right? Dictator of the largest nuclear arsenal in the world who also has cancer and just invaded a sovereign country. That’s a terrifying narrative, because that’s what we’re all afraid of. Someone who has nothing to lose who just decides to let loose a nuke.

Lex Fridman (01:35:30):

Well, I do think, maybe it’s projecting, but if I had cancer, or if you think about leaders that have cancer, you’re facing your own mortality, I would think he would be more focused on his legacy. And dropping a nuclear bomb is not good for legacy. I do believe he wants to be remembered as a great leader, as a lot of leaders do, as a lot of even dictators do. And I think he wants to figure out a way to pull out a win so he can say that whatever this thing was, whatever this invasion was, was good for Russia, was good for the nation. He ultimately made it a greater nation than it was before. And perhaps he could justify an escalation of war to be that.


And it’s just the cancer thing concerns me so much, because it’s been so often part of this propaganda that’s been told about Putin that he’s sick. I don’t know why. It’s always, people kind of wonder that a lot about, especially dictators. But you had that even with Hillary Clinton, and obviously with Biden. That narrative is stickier. So for some people, it’s stickier. Well, that narrative is transparent and obvious. But the degree of it is a question with Biden, as it does with everyone. How healthy is this leader?

Joe Rogan (01:36:52):

That’s the question people often ask. Always, they were doing that about Trump, too. The thing about Putin, though, is his appearance is altered, where he looks very bloated. His body doesn’t look much bigger, but his face looks puffy and swollen. I had a friend who had sarcoidosis, and they prescribed prednisone, which is a type of a steroid. And one of the things that would happen when he was on it is his face would get really big. It was like he would blow up, like swell up, and maintain a lot of water and inflammation. And that’s what it looks like when I’m looking at Putin.

Lex Fridman (01:37:33):

So actually, if you’re sitting with him, one question is about health. That’s, has Biden been asked that kind of question? No, like without mockery with Putin?

Joe Rogan (01:37:44):

He would have to go on Fox News. The mainstream media treats him with kid gloves in a way that I’ve never seen. It’s so obvious there’s something horribly wrong with his cognitive function.

Lex Fridman (01:37:56):

Well, to push back, I don’t know if it’s horribly wrong. You don’t think it’s horribly wrong? No, I think there’s uncertainty to which degree it’s wrong. I would love there to be a serious conversation with him, in fact. I actually have to now look, because of course Fox News will mock his declining mental health. And then I would love an objective discussion.


Are you aware of this? Are you, what are you putting in place? Are you yourself? Because if I was a person with declining mental abilities, you’d have to start thinking about that kind of stuff. Who is around you? Who are the advisors? What if you stop being able to see the world clearly? I would be transparent about that kind of stuff.

Joe Rogan (01:38:47):

Well, you would be, but you also would never be a politician, because you’re too fucking honest.

Lex Fridman (01:38:52):

Well, yeah, but actually from a conversation perspective, it would be nice if that kind of discussion was.

Joe Rogan (01:38:58):

It would be, but all jokes aside with Putin, I would ask questions about democracy versus what they have. I mean, without any disparaging descriptions of what is going on over in Russia, it’s clearly not a democracy. It’s, I mean, the way he has it set up, the elections are a joke.

Lex Fridman (01:39:28):

He’s. So he would push back. That’s not clearly not a democracy. He is still very popular. So majority of people are huge supporters of Putin inside Russia. The people that push back against that would say that that’s because any serious opposition is pushed out of the country. Yeah, and arrested and murdered. Yeah, so, but yes, that’s a really, really good question.

Joe Rogan (01:39:49):

The value of dictatorships. One of the things about the United States that’s fascinating to me is that every four years, unless it’s four to eight years, right, someone does two terms, but every four years, there’s an opportunity for someone to be new and completely inexperienced at the most difficult job in the world, which is ridiculous.

Lex Fridman (01:40:12):

So the interesting thing is, it actually makes sense after eight years, you’ve gained the wisdom. You would actually be a pretty good leader to keep going. But there is some problem where you, the power gets, starts getting to your head. And so like from Putin’s perspective, I think he genuinely wants the best for Russia. I don’t think he’s lost his mind in terms of like, it’s all about greed and so on. Same as Stalin. I think Stalin, until the end of his days, wanted the best for the Soviet Union. So it’s not like you become, Hitler, I think, lost his mind during the war, like where it was like he wasn’t seen clearly at all.


What Putin believes is that he is actually the best person to bring out the best for his country. Now, the problem is maybe refreshing the leader is in fact, in the long term, the best thing, versus every leader believes they know what’s best for the country. My point is to keep refreshing it. And that’s the case for democracy. That’s the case for the system we have that creates a natural, maybe emergent balance of power.

Joe Rogan (01:41:21):

I think it makes it evident that there is no clear-cut, real right way to do it. And that if you had the perfect person in, having them for 12, 20 years would be amazing. If you had a perfect, benevolent leader who clearly only cared about the people, was doing their best and striving hard and got great satisfaction knowing that he is a dedicated civil servant that only wants to lead the country in a way that’s gonna benefit the most people in the most profound way.


But we have a dirty political system that’s completely corrupted by money, completely corrupted by influence. The fact that the lobbyists, I mean, there’s an area outside of Washington, D.C., it’s one of the richest areas in the country and it’s where the lobbyists live. There’s so much money involved in being a lobbyist. There’s so much money involved in special interest groups and how much of an impact they have on who gets elected and what decisions get made once that person gets elected. We know this, right? We know it’s not for the people, by the people. It’s just not what it is. I mean, this country is an experiment in self-government and if we could do it all over again, I would say the most important thing is to have laws in place to keep money out of politics and to make it a heinous crime for someone to influence laws and policy based entirely on the amount of profit it could generate for a party or for a company that is investing in a candidate. That’s fucking incredibly dangerous and it’s corrupt and that corruption has been accepted. We’ve just accepted that this corruption exists.

Lex Fridman (01:43:15):

Last question, if Putin asks to see this watch, what do I tell him? What would you give it? Should I let him see it? Because we know what happens with the Super Bowl ring. I think a Super Bowl ring is unique.

Joe Rogan (01:43:25):

He could buy a watch like that pretty easy.

Lex Fridman (01:43:30):

But this particular, isn’t that a power move?

Joe Rogan (01:43:34):

Yeah, but I’m- So this is the watch you gave me.

Lex Fridman (01:43:36):

Yes. There’s a story. Yes. And you share it with him, the story.

Joe Rogan (01:43:42):

And then maybe you go, look, can I see this watch? And then he puts it on and says, thank you. Do you say no? You go like this. Yeah, there it is, bro.

Lex Fridman (01:43:50):

Bro, take it off. So many words, I’m gonna have to find translations. Buddy, bro, I guess bro’s brother.

Joe Rogan (01:43:58):

I mean, if he takes your watch, I’ll buy you another one. If Putin steals it. Keep him going. I’ll just give you the same exact watch.

Lex Fridman (01:44:06):

Well, first of all, thank you for this. My pleasure, brother. I really wanted to talk to you because in a couple of days I’m leaving to Ukraine and Russia and I hope I’ll be back in one piece and drink whiskey with you once again.

Joe Rogan (01:44:22):

Yeah, I hope so too. I’m nervous about you going over there. I know journalists have been killed now. It’s…

Lex Fridman (01:44:29):

They don’t know jiu-jitsu. No, I think it’ll be okay. And I think there’s certain things you do in life that just kind of your heart pulls towards that.

Joe Rogan (01:44:39):

What’s your objective over there?

Lex Fridman (01:44:42):

I’m not somebody who thinks about objectives clearly. It’s just something about me says I need to go there. But to put in loose words is to try to understand what that world is now. So I remember what it was years ago when I was there. I know my family. I know the generations of family that was there on that land in Ukraine and in Russia and the soul of the people.


The love that’s there, the beauty of the culture. And I want to see what it is today and what this war has created. Both the anger and the love and the people and just hear them out and just talk to them. No recordings, none of that. Maybe a little here and there, but mostly just for me. And to see, I don’t know, sometimes it’s just… Something pulls you to a place. And I also, because I’m able to speak Russian and some Ukrainian, I do want to try to have a couple of the political leaders involved talk to them.


And I have all the right connections. Everybody has said yes. Of course, you don’t know the likelihood it finally happens, but I want to at least have that possibility there. Sometimes you have to go to a place to really understand it. You can’t just read about it. You can’t just talk to the people that are living there. You have to be there. And I’ve never been in a war zone. I’ve never been in a land that’s been damaged and wiped by the weapons of war. And I just want to feel that because so much of that land is, I remember when everything was flourishing.


Yes, corruption, all those kinds of things, but people were there and the culture was flourishing and people were happy. There was lots of struggle, but they were happy. And now people are extremely angry. There’s hate in the air on all sides. I want to see that. I want to understand. Sometimes it just pulls you and you have to go. So it doesn’t make any sense perhaps, but you just got to do it.

Joe Rogan (01:46:47):

What’s the timeline of when I’m going?

Lex Fridman (01:46:49):

How long? No, one way. I don’t have a plan. Wow. Yeah, so I’m hoping back in a month, but also not, just to clarify, I’m not somebody who seeks risk. And like you’re somebody who seems to be terrified of bears and sharks. So you don’t like, so why go swim out? Why go surfing? Why go swim out in the ocean? So I’m somebody that’s the same probably with sharks too. I’m not taking unnecessary risk, but certain things that just mean a lot to you, you take the risk. And so a little bit of risk, willing to take to discover something about myself. Honestly, it’s probably what it all boils down to, try to understand myself. Cause so much of me is from that place. Well, this is the beautiful thing about America, is it’s like stitches together all these different cultures. Everybody came from somewhere else. And you try to understand, in order for me to be a good American, I need to understand who I was, where I came from. And that’s, nothing reveals the spirit of a people better than war.


It’s like, there’s something about this conflict that’s really cuts all the bullshit. This is who we are. This is who we are as a people. So I want to see it. I want to understand. And like I said, when I come back, drink some whiskey with you.

Joe Rogan (01:48:25):

All right. Well, I hope that happens. I really do. And I hope you’re safe over there. And I hope you come back with whatever insight you’re trying to achieve.

Lex Fridman (01:48:34):

Thank you for doing this conversation. My pleasure brother. Thank you for everything you’ve done for me, for the support, for the love and everybody around you. Thank you for everything you’re doing, for everybody around you, for giving back, but for just giving and being kind to everybody. I love you brother.

Joe Rogan (01:48:50):

I love you too. Thank you.

Lex Fridman (01:48:52):

Thanks for listening to this conversation with Joe Rogan. To support this podcast, please check out our sponsors in the description. And now let me leave you with one of Joe’s and one of my favorite quotes from Miyamoto Musashi. Once you know the way broadly, you’ll see it in everything. Thank you for listening and hope to see you next time.