Q

Vancouver's own Seth Rogen on comedy, his debut book and where cannabis legalization went wrong in Canada

Seth Rogen is known as a comedy titan with a penchant for smoking pot. Now, he’s also an author. He joined Q’s Tom Power to talk about his debut book, Yearbook, which features a collection of hilarious personal essays about his early life in Canada.

Seth Rogen talks to Q’s Tom Power about his hilarious new memoir, Yearbook, and his famous use of weed

Canadian comedy star Seth Rogen joined Q’s Tom Power over Zoom. (CBC)

Seth Rogen has made some of the most memorable comedies of the last two decades, but the Vancouver-born actor, producer, writer and director says comedy is incredibly undervalued.

"As someone who has done this a very long time, nothing is valued less on this planet — creatively — than comedy," he told host Tom Power in an interview on CBC Radio's Q.

"It is by far the least valued creative output. My wife has done puzzles that have gotten more praise than entire comedic films that we've made."

Despite that, Rogen added he only cares about the approval of his audience.

"We're not as much chasing the approval of our peers, for better or worse," he said, followed by his signature laugh.

WATCH | Seth Rogen's full interview with Q host Tom Power:

Write what you know 

Rogen got his start in comedy at the tender age of 12, performing standup in Vancouver with sets about his grandparents and their funny habits. He was a natural on stage.

"I was much more afraid of speaking to a girl, like one-on-one in class, than I was getting up in front of 200 people and telling jokes," he said. "I look back, honestly, at how little fear I had when it [came] to standup and I think it's just because I was young. I didn't understand the stakes of it."

At 13, Rogen began writing his hit film Superbad with Evan Goldberg, now known as his longtime friend and collaborator. In his new freewheeling memoir, Yearbook, the actor shares hilarious stories about the real-life misadventures that inspired the 2007 coming-of-age teen comedy.

Seth Rogen's debut book, Yearbook, is out now. (Penguin Random House Canada, Maartende Boer)

In one scene in Superbad, Michael Cera's character, Evan, finds himself stuck in a room at a party, where he's mistaken for someone else, and can only leave after singing These Eyes by the Guess Who.

"That party that they wind up at in Superbad is very much based on this party that we went to," Rogen told Power. "Specifically, that idea that you're trapped in a room with a bunch of lunatics on cocaine."

The 39-year-old comedy star said his young age and lack of professional experience at the time of writing Superbad never deterred him or Goldberg from trying to get the film made.

"Why couldn't teenagers write a movie about teenagers in high school?" he said. "Like, if anything, we're the best-suited people to be doing this. Why do we have to be old to write a movie about this? If anything, it would be weirder."

Today, Rogen recognizes that Superbad is widely considered his best work "by most metrics," but he's not trying to recapture its spirit with the work he's doing now.

"If anything, we're constantly trying to push ourselves to do new and exciting things that we find very personally entertaining," he said. "And that changes over the years."

WATCH | Rogen says every famous person should be exposed to this:

Seth Rogen: Every famous person should be exposed to this

4 months ago
1:21
Seth Rogen talks about his new book 'Yearbook' and other stories with Tom Power on q. 1:21

'You can be stoned and make a movie'

When the stoner comedy Pineapple Express came out in 2008, Rogen found box office success yet again, which he chalks up to writing about a topic he's very familiar with.

"That movie became so beloved among people who smoke weed especially, that it just really was encouraging and showed us, like, oh, this is an audience that we do really understand because we are them," he said with a laugh.

"You can be stoned and make a movie that people like — [not just] about being stoned, but clearly made by people who are stoned as well."

WATCH | Pineapple Express - The Trifecta Scene 

With a reputation as one of Hollywood's biggest (and most successful) stoners, Rogen was one of the few stars who would talk openly about weed on television and in interviews.

"I remember I did Letterman once years ago … and it was the first time he literally threw out every question he had and just asked me about weed the entire time," recalled Rogen.

"I asked Letterman or one of them, 'Like, why do you ask me about this all the time? I'm more than happy to talk about it, honestly. But just, like, why?' And [he's] just, like, 'Honestly, because no one will talk about it and because you will … it's too good to pass up on that. We know a lot of famous people smoke weed and a lot of people smoke weed, but no one will just speak about it, and you are a successful, functional member of society. So it's interesting.'"

WATCH | Seth Rogen and David Letterman talk about weed:

Where cannabis legalization went wrong in Canada

Beyond being the de facto Hollywood spokesperson for weed usage, Rogen is also a passionate cannabis entrepreneur.

He and Goldberg launched the Toronto-based cannabis company Houseplant in 2019 after cannabis became legal under Canadian law. But when it comes to the regulation of weed in Canada, the comedy star sees a lapse in logic and judgment.

He maintains cannabis should never have been illegal in the first place.

"Canada went around its legalization in what I would describe as a terrible way," Rogen told Power. "The only reason it [was] illegal [was] for racist reasons. And Canada has not reconciled that, and that is not as ingrained into the philosophy behind [legalization] as it needs to be."


Hear the full conversation with Seth Rogen near the top of this page.

Written by Vivian Rashotte. Produced by Vanessa Nigro.

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