Joe Rogan

Shiny Happy Jihad

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Way more productive for others than for himself, Joe Rogan was the host on the TV reality show Fear Factor, a cast member of the sitcom NewsRadio, and a commentator for the Ultimate Fighting Championship before the 2007 arrival of his Comedy Central debut, Shiny Happy Jihad. Right before the album's release, he went after fellow comics Dane Cook and Carlos Mencia big-time, accusing them of stealing jokes as if he was the keeper of standup law. It didn't make a whole lot of sense to the people who didn't regularly watch his website and its broadcasts or who missed his 2000 album for Warner Bros., I'm Gonna Be Dead Someday..., which barely made a blip on the radar. The relentless Shiny Happy Jihad backs everything up as Rogan spews forth a slew of hilarious and cutting observations that refuse to play nice, sellout, or settle down. He's grating, not for everyone, and dwells on the power of pot smoking to the power of two Bill Maher's, but he also pulls off the amazing trick of covering the beat-to-death topic of Brokeback Mountain and somehow makes gay cowboys funny again. Behind the scenes stories of Fear Factor explain how such an edgy and smart rebel handled, and ended up having to justify, a gig on such a successful and lowest-common-denominator show. His even stranger attachment to the UFC has a lot to do with his true love of the earlier, brutish UFC commentator Jim Brown and it doesn't take long to learn that TV is where he gets his money, standup is where he gets his artistic fulfillment. Seven years away from his first love -- at least as far as albums go -- meant the material was building up. Cutting it all down to the most effective routines gives the album an amazingly tight feel that's almost overwhelming, yet one of the great highlights of this live set is the casual question and answer session at the end which proves Rogan can be funny at the spur of the moment. Brutally honest and often just plain brutal, Shiny Happy Jihad couldn't earn Rogan any more TV face time than he already has, and it certainly isn't meant for that. It's meant to give hard evidence as to why he has earned the right to speak his mind on standup integrity. The fringe benefits are the amazing amount of laughs it takes to get there and the numerous times this hilarious effort can be returned to and still satisfy.

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