He has appeared to attribute his own popularity to an underserved market, recently recalling the bafflement of advertising professionals over his audience demographics. “They’re like, ‘Jesus Christ, he’s got like 94 percent men. Like, what is going on here?’” Mr. Rogan said in May, probably exaggerating the figure a bit. “I’m like, ‘It’s because they’re not represented. Men are not represented.’”
For listeners, the attachment is visceral, communal — a “monoculture of free-thinkers,” as Marc Maron, the fellow podcaster and comedian, has said of the Rogan-inclined masses, tweaking a group that can descend on its targets as an online bloc.
Comics say they have become instantly recognizable to new fans as far afield as Australia after appearing on Mr. Rogan’s show. Shanna Swan, a reproductive epidemiologist who was a guest in the spring, said she received a message afterward from a Rogan-lover desperate to deliver him a handmade samurai sword. Authors have seen long-published works rocket back to relevance.
“I’d never heard of the guy,” the writer S.C. Gwynne said, recounting his confusion in 2019 when his publicist called to ask why sales for “Empire of the Summer Moon,” his 2010 book about the Comanche Indian tribe, were spiking. It seemed that Mr. Rogan had posted about it on Instagram. Weeks later, Mr. Gwynne went on the show. “In October of the next year, I just got an absolutely gigantic royalty check,” he said. “To me, that is the power of Joe Rogan.”
In interviews, fans repeatedly cite Mr. Rogan’s willingness to air any perspective, however provocative, especially those shunned or overlooked by traditional news organizations. “It’s the sort of questions I think about when I go to sleep at night,” said Stephanie Jones, 27, waiting to see Mr. Rogan perform in Austin, Texas, in May. She attributed her decision to get vaccinated against Covid to Mr. Rogan’s discussion about immunocompromised people on the podcast.
Mr. Rogan has described having a “love-hate relationship with conspiracies,” and his contempt for opinion-policing can cut both ways: He was, for instance, far earlier and louder than most legacy media outlets in raising the possibility that the pandemic originated with a leak from a Chinese laboratory, a prospect that has attracted fresh scrutiny from the Biden administration.
But his theorizing is also something of a volume business, validated by the hits and unimpeded by the misses. Mr. Rogan is less likely to dwell on the debunking of hypotheses he floats, like the baseless notion that the Clinton family was somehow connected to the 2016 murder of Seth Rich, a Democratic National Committee staff member.