Exclusive: Joe Rogan buying west Austin theater for new comedy club, wants to make Austin a new hub for big laughs
Since making his well-documented move to Austin from Los Angeles, multi-million dollar podcaster Joe Rogan has been singing the praises of his new home and making himself right at home. So, what's next for Rogan and Austin?
Austonia has confirmed with multiple sources that Rogan is taking decades of experience in standup comedy—first starting his career in 1988—and finally, *drumroll* opening up his very own comedy club in the capital city.
Though rumors have also previously suggested he's purchased the now closed Alamo Ritz and the soon to reopen Cap City Comedy, multiple sources, who asked to remain anonymous, told Austonia that the new home to Rogan's latest endeavor is the One World Theatre. Located at 7701 Bee Cave Road, the theater is a convenient 10-minute drive from Rogan's $14.4 million dollar Westlake Hills mansion.
Rogan will run the theatre with fellow comedian Adam Eget, who has been on the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast and made the journey from L.A. to Austin for the gig. The One World Theatre did not respond to numerous calls and messages from Austonia.
The One World Theatre opened its doors in 1999, when current owners Hartt and Nada Stearns decided to bring concerts, dance, theatrical and kid's productions to the new venue in association with an equal partner, the Barton Creek Art Center. The Stearns acquired 100% interest in the property in 2007 and have been running it since.
According to the Travis Central Appraisal District, the property is on its second foreclosure and likely sustained damages due to the winter storm.
We know it's been a long time coming for Rogan to finally buy his first-ever club. Here's what we've observed over the years.
Rogan has been planning to start a club for months, at least
Shortly after Rogan announced his California exodus, Rogan sat down for an August 2020 podcast with comedian Joey Diaz to talk about fracking and the effects it has had on the environment along the coast and how it was one of the reasons he wanted to leave. In response to his move, Diaz asked Rogan if he plans to do a comedy club once he breaks ground.
"Most likely I'm going to do a comedy club (in Austin). It'll be fun for all of us," Rogan said.
He's been keeping company with fellow funnies
The iconoclast has performed dozens of shows around Austin since he's made his move; Rogan frequents venues like Stubb's BBQ and ACL Live at the Moody Theater. Rogan recently appeared in a series of comedy shows alongside fellow comedian Dave Chapelle and has also been seen performing with Ron White, Donnell Rawlings and Michelle Wolfe. Rogan has also been coaxing friends, like Diaz, to follow his path down to Austin.
He was a longtime staple at The Comedy Store in L.A.
... and now he wants to move the L.A. hub to Austin. Rogan said he first started performing at The Comedy Store, one of the most prominent comedy venues in L.A., in 1994; it was a "mecca" for him and he performed there for 13 years. As the world changes and technology becomes more powerful than ever before, Rogan said he wants to steer people away from making Hollywood their end-all-be-all.
"For sure the best way to be free is not to be connected to the Hollywood machine because the Hollywood machine is all woke now," Rogan said. "It's completely ridiculous and everyone's full of shit. What we need is a machine that we create ourselves."
He's not looking to make money
With a podcast worth upwards of $100 million dollars—thanks to his high-profile licensing deal with Spotify—Rogan's pockets are lined. On yet another podcast in September, this time with White, Rogan said he was on the lookout for a ranch and a comedy club in Austin. Rogan said he wants to help local comics get on the up-and-up "when" he starts a club in Austin.
"The idea is if we open a club—when we open up a club I should say—is to have these local guys come in, pump them up, let people know there's a real scene here and help them," Rogan said. "Not just Austin comics but from everywhere, bring them into this place and have this be a hub."
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Austin's Delta 8 industry has been turned on its head after Texas health officials clarified that the cannabinoid is on the state list of illegal substances, though it was previously believed to be legal by most retailers, consumers and manufacturers.
House Bill 1325, which was signed in June 2019 by Gov. Greg Abbott, and the Farm Bill, signed into law by former President Donald Trump in 2018, legalized any hemp product containing less than .3% THC. The same bills were thought to have made Delta 8 legal, though the Texas Department of State Health Services added a notice on its website saying it was still a controlled substance as of Friday, Oct. 15.
Both the federal and state governments keep separate lists on what is considered a controlled substance. Marijuana is considered Schedule I, a category reserved for substances with "no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse," both statewide and federally.
Austin-based CBD retailer Grassroots Harvest CEO Kemal Whyte, like many CBD shop retailers, was blindsided by the announcement. Many small businesses rely on Delta 8 for their sales—Green Herbal Care CBD said about 90% of its sales come from Delta 8—and Whyte said he is frustrated by the inconsistencies in the drug scheduling system.
Since 87% of Texans support the legalization of marijuana, at least for medical use, per a recent poll, Whyte said he wonders who this legislation is for.
"It's gonna have a massive impact on small businesses—there's just no way around it," Whyte said. "The reality is, we don't want to push out anything bad for our customers, we want this to benefit our customers and to help them. If we can make money while doing it, that's the American dream. What are we doing, whose benefit is this for?"
Delta 8 surged in popularity after the perceived legalization—consumers enjoyed its lower psychotropic potency, decreased anxiety while using it and the peace of mind as a legal way to get high. So in order to protect their products and livelihoods, both Grassroots Harvest and Austin-based manufacturer Hometown Heroes are taking legal action.
Whyte said Grassroots Harvest is suing DSHS, saying their action is creating negative effects in the market. Meanwhile, a Hometown Heroes spokesperson said the company is in the process of filing a temporary restraining order that would pause the ban on Delta-8 in the state of Texas.
Threats against Delta 8 are not new—DSHS lost a lawsuit trying to make "smokable hemp products" illegal last year and Texas lawmakers had been considering a bill that would make Delta 8 illegal, though it was dropped after the clarification was made.
Hometown Heroes released a formal statement in response to the DSHS rule.
"I need to be clear—we love Texas, we're just choosing to fight for the will of the people in regards to cannabis in Texas," Hometown Hero CEO Lukas Gilkey said in a statement. "(Texas DSHS) are using backhanded ways to create legislation and go against the will of the people."
Whyte laments the fact that it would be easier legally to "open up a strip club that also sells guns," and said he can't post customer testimonials that mention the benefits of Delta 8 without getting hit with a cease and desist from the Food and Drug Administration. Whyte said he isn't opposed to regulation—far from it—he just wants to see it go through the correct channels.
"The fact that they're stunting our ability to communicate with our clients that want to learn about this, you're preventing us from communicating with them and teaching them, or spreading information that we know," Whyte said. "I think that that in and of itself opens up a lot of questions."
Grassroots Harvest still has Delta 8 products on its shelves for the time being but for how long, Whyte doesn't know.
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Austin Public Health and other clinics around Austin are now providing booster shots for all three vaccines, including Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, to fully vaccinated individuals after both Pfizer and J & J were approved by the CDC on Wednesday.
APH and Austin clinics, which were already administering the approved Pfizer booster, will begin distributing shots as soon as Friday.
Those who received the second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine more than six months ago are elligble to receive a booster if they are over 65 or if they are over 18 and:
- Live in a long-term care environment
- Have underlying medical conditions
- Work or live in high-risk settings, such as schools, hospitals or correctional facilities
Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Desmar Walkes said in a media Q&A Friday that APH is encouraging boosters just as much as they have urged residents to get their first and second doses.
"Boosters are incredibly important to keeping our community protected and hospitalizations low," Walkes said. "If we can stay on top of our vaccinations, we provide protections for our most vulnerable and make it that much harder for COVID to spread in our community."
Eligible residents are free to choose the same booster as their first doses or "mix and match," per the CDC announcement.
Those looking for another dose can simply bring their vaccination card to APH centers or the dozens of Walgreens and CVS locations in the metro, which began administering doses Friday.
Additional updated guidance from the CDC allows for all eligible individuals to choose which vaccine they receive as a "mix-and-match" booster dose. It is advised to remember to bring your CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Card showing the original doses with you when going for booster shots.
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