Joe Rogan’s Comedy Club Has Deep State-Level Surveillance

Phone confiscations, facial recognition scans and no right to bear arms. Did Rogan trade freedom for security?
Joe Rogan’s Comedy Club Has Deep State-Level Surveillance

Imagine a world where, in order to enter a comedy club, guests are required to leave their constitutionally entitled firearms at home, hand over their smartphones to security and submit to a full face scan so that their benevolent hosts can always identify every pore on your forehead should you step out of line. This isn’t 1984 — this is Joe Rogan’s Comedy Mothership.

When Rogan opened the doors to his Austin comedy club in March, the move was massively celebrated by the legions of libertarian-ish Rogan fans who flocked to the “free speech” safe space to see the likes of Roseanne Barr and Tony Hinchcliffe fire off unfiltered, uncanceled comedy, free from the gaze of a disapproving smartphone camera. “I’m drunk and on mushrooms in my new club!” Rogan famously exclaimed when he first took the stage in his new temple, challenging the comedy power brokers with, “You can’t fire me from my own club, bitch!”

Well, Rogan’s freedom comes at the price of the audience’s privacy, as anyone hoping to gain entry to Comedy Mothership must submit to the aforementioned phone confiscation and facial scanning to get through the doors. For a guy who has made a career out of railing against the NSA and other intelligence agencies, he sure has learned a lot from them.

“Security is a bit intense,” wrote James Hibbard of The Hollywood Reporter after he attended the Comedy Mothership’s christening back in March. “You have to get your face scanned like you’re going through airport security at Heathrow (one would think that this would freak out some of Rogan’s conspiracy-minded fans).”

Supposedly, the unusually thorough surveillance is intended to deter and detect hecklers and bad actors who would ruin the show for the comics and other audience members with outbursts — one of the many draws to Comedy Mothership is that individuals who cause disruptions receive lifetime bans, or as Rogan would say, “Hecklers will be alienated.”

However, as Hibbard anticipated, the tight security has ruffled the feathers of a few Rogan die-hards. One user in the Joe Rogan subreddit penned a post titled “The Comedy Mothership is a dystopian nightmare,” railing against the club’s policies and accusing Rogan of instituting the phone confiscation program in order to “prevent the TMZ footage of another Michael Richards incident.” The user called out the policy of collecting ID information and facial scans from every audience member, wondering, “What if that computer gets hacked? The employees are all wannabe entry-level comedians, cybersecurity isn’t their strong point.”

If Comedy Mothership does suffer a security breach like the one described, I just hope the hackers have the decency to release any surveillance recordings from the green room — who wouldn’t want to see Roseanne and Dave Chappelle go at it?

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