As these things are wont to do, the story of the Comedy Store incident between Joe Rogan and Carlos Mencia took on a life of its own. Joe Rogan had taken a break from speaking publicly about the incident, but has issues one final word.
Much of the public outcry surrounding the Joe Rogan-Carlos Mencia feud was centered around the way that Rogan was punished for defending the original authors' rights to protect their work from joke-stealing Carlos Mencia.
Indeed, Joe Rogan was banned from the Comedy Store and dropped by the Gersh Agency, which up to that point had represented both Joe Rogan and Carlos Mencia.
Like almost any whistle-blower will tell you, the consequence of doing the right thing can often be severe. Rogan's entire sign-off on the topic can be found on his website.
I recently received a quite ridiculous 5 page typed letter from the current
management accusing me of trying to get comics and patrons to boycott the comedy
store, which is completely and totally untrue. I have never told anyone to stop
going there. Some of the comics have chosen not to go, but that was purely out
of their own personal disgust with the store’s handling of the situation, not because I asked them to stop going.
I still have some good friends that perform there all the time. They’re very funny, and if you go there and see them you’ll laugh your ass off. Plus, it’s a great space to see comedy in. It’s a really cool old building that hasn’t changed all that much
from the time when it was a mob run nightclub in the 1940’s. It’s one of those very few remaining old Hollywood landmarks that’s still around. So please, by all means go there and have a good time. You just won’t be seeing me there ever again, and here’s where we get to why...
The really funny part of this silly 5 page letter that they sent me was where they claimed that the “real reason” that I was banned from the comedy store, was that they had asked me to stop filming there for my little internet reality show, and by releasing that video of The Carlos™ and I onstage I had violated their rules, and that I had to be “disciplined” for that. What was so funny about that to me, was that the
reason they stated that they wanted me to stop filming there was that they’re claiming that those clips that I put up on my website constitute a “Show,” and that if I’m filming this “Show” at the club, I should be compensating them financially for it.
What’s so funny about that? Well, what’s really funny to me about them asking me for money to film there was that the entire time I performed at the comedy store, over 13 years, literally one third of my entire life on this planet, I performed FOR FREE. For the hundreds of times my name was on the Marquee on sunset advertising “Fear Factor’s Joe Rogan” I did those shows for them 100% for free. I even advertised when I was going to be there, sending out myspace messages to everyone on my list, every time I performed there.
Not only that, I even purchased the very sound system they use in there right now to this day. They had a cheap, tinny system there that would cut in and out, and the speakers were blown, and it was a real nuisance to perform with. The club didn’t have the money to fix it supposedly, so I decided to take care of it myself. I bought a whole new set up with top of the line shit - speakers, CD burner, the whole 9 yards. I paid for all of it 100% out of my own pocket.
It wasn’t just the LA club that I performed at for free for them either. The comedy store has a sister club down near San Diego in La Jolla, and on two separate occasions I traveled down there and packed the place for the whole weekend, did press for it, radio interviews advertising it, sent out letters to everyone on my email list and my myspace page, and never took a penny from them. They even jacked up the ticket price for those weekends because I was there. I did it all completely as a favor to the club.
So after all that I’ve done for them, the fact that they would tell me that if I wanted to continue filming my clips for the internet there that they expected to be paid money for it was fucking mind blowing. It’s like this situation is getting more and more surreal, and this was just some new level of gross that I was somehow expected to digest.
What’s really funny, was that the way I was looking at the typed words on the pages of this letter they sent me asking me to pay them, was exactly the same as the looks on the faces of those poor Fear Factor contestants when I was trying to feed them
boiled horse rectums. Like, “I can’t fucking believe you expect me to swallow this.”
That's some serious 'insult to injury' right there. While that would sting, the fact that Rogan took a while to compose this "last" message on the topic suggests that he's now on the back side of this. He goes on to say that he and Pauly Shore spoke on the phone shortly after the initial fracas and that they've buried the hatchet.
He then goes on to wax nostalgic about the Comedy Store and everything he's been able to take away from there. These are the words of a person who is truly passionate about his work. It was this passion, and the sense of justice, that first brought me to care about this story. Read for yourself:
I had a great fucking time all the years I was performing there, and I wouldn’t change a thing about the way it all went down. Like all things in this crazy life I’m living, it was all imperfectly perfect, exactly the way I like it.
When I was first starting out doing stand up in Boston, the comedy store was always this ultimate destination that could never really live up to the expectations that we had for it. It was larger than life. It wasn’t just another club, it was like Mecca to us comics that had never been there. It was the place where Sam Kinison and Richard Pryor performed. It represented something above and beyond the rest of the clubs.
It was an idea.
It was an idea – that there was one club, one place, all the way across the country where they GOT it. Where the smartest crowds would go to see the sharpest comedy. A place where no hacks were allowed.
A place where the inmates ran the asylum, and the person responsible for it all was this great woman that loved stand up comedy and understood the nature of the beast. When I first started performing there, it was far more important to me than even getting on TV. I mean it was cool to be on a TV show and all, but what was
REALLY cool to me at the time was that I was a regular at the motherfuckin’
comedy store. I was finally THERE.
I always knew that was the club that I needed to perform at, and I was there.
When all this shit went down a few weeks ago, the decision to never come back by me was made when I called Mitzi to discuss what happened, told her about the video and explained to her that it was going on the internet, she told me to just avoid The Carlos™ and she gave me a spot at 10pm that night. About an hour later when the manager called me to tell me I was banned- not knowing that I had just talked to Mitzi herself- it was a very obvious moment.
I could FEEL it.
I saw the man behind the curtain, and I realized that the moment we comedy store comics had always feared had finally come to pass - the moment where Mitzi was no longer running things. I also realized that I had done my last set there.
At the risk of sounding melodramatic, if I truly loved the idea of what the comedy store meant to me, then I had to walk away, because the reality of the situation was
completely contrary to that idea. To stay and accept their bullshit would be a complete insult to the art form itself.
If the fucking comedy store –THE place- openly accepts a blatant plagiarist and punishes the guy that exposed him, there really can be no more obvious offense. That, and the fact that they somehow think that this video shouldn’t have been released -arguably the most important anti-plagiarism event EVER in the history of stand up- just shows how completely out of touch they are, and how there’s no fucking way they should ever be trusted again to do the right thing.
I was 99.9% sure that it was over for me, but the ridiculous letter they sent me
completely sealed the deal. There’s no sadness though, and I’m entering this new stage in my life with giddy, childlike enthusiasm, and I’m happily going where the universe takes me. I’m really fucking loving performing in all these different places, and the idea of what the comedy store meant to me, lives on everywhere I go.
I remember one night Joey Diaz and I were on the road in Houston, and after a
particularly wild show the audience was screaming and cheering, I thanked
them, handed the microphone back to Joey to say goodnight, he gave me knuckles and he yelled into the mic, “That’s the comedy store, motherfuckers! That’s how we do it!!” I’ll never forget that moment. He wasn’t just talking about a building back in Hollywood where we performed at; he was talking about an idea. He was talking about completely uncensored, raw and honest stand up comedy, and as long as there’s stand up, that idea will always be alive.
I take it with me everywhere I go, and if you come out to see me on the road with Joey Diaz, Ari Shaffir, Duncan Trussell, or anyone else I’m with, we bring that idea with us. We take that idea everywhere we perform. We took it to the Upright itizens Brigade in LA last Friday night, and I’m taking it to the improv in Pittsburgh tonight.
It’s not about some special container that you perform in, it’s about what you bring to whatever place you’re at, whether it’s a gigantic theatre or a tiny coffee house. hat idea will live on.
Long live the idea of the comedy store."
With any luck, Rogan will work out a deal to buy out the Comedy Store. I would think that if Mitzi Shore still has any say in the club's operations, she would want to pass the torch to someone like Joe Rogan, whose passion for that space is palpable.
As for Rogan being dropped by the Gersh Agency, it truly sounds like Gersh lost big time and that Joe Rogan came out on top. Joe Rogan gets the last word there, too, saying
As far as my agency goes, once Gersh dropped me, I got on the phone with my
manager and we signed on with the William Morris agency literally 5 minutes
later. They’re my stand up agents now. As for the backlash against Gersh’s
unethical behavior, Louis CK left them over this, so did Nick Swardson, and from
what I understand a lot of other large name clients either have left them, or
are looking for new agents now.
Carlos Mencia won't be let off the hook so easily. Comedy fans continue to circulate petitions to have his show removed from Comedy Central. Some cite the fact that Mencia just isn't funny, while others advocate for the show's removal because of Carlos Mencia's blatent plagiarism.
While the early days of this story seemed to have Joe Rogan by the throat, I'm thrilled to see that, well, justice really does prevail. Carlos Mencia's reputation is severly tarnished, while hundreds of thousands of people (like me) who didn't have either of these guys on their radar perked up to the issue.
By standing up to one of the comedy industry's most visable plagiarists, Joe Rogan developed the kind of following that can't be bought or manufactured. Meanwhile, Carlos Mencia is left with a storm of notoriety.