Yes, he’s playing comedy clubs. And he’s one of the funniest people to ever step into a ring. But wrestling legend Mick Foley balks at being billed as a comedian.
“Some people consider it comedy. Other comedians consider it comedy,” Foley says in a phone interview prior to a July 30 date at a Yuk Yuk’s in Vaughan, Ont. (Part of a tour that’ll see him hit various Canadian cities by mid-September)
“But I call it a one-man show, so that wrestling fans don’t think I’m going to be up there telling jokes about politics and the weather.”
Instead, he’ll be riffing on things like his infamous toss by The Undertaker off the top of a 20-foot cage through a table, or “a story about Jake (The Snake) Roberts urinating on me,” or playing his kids a video of his first WWE championship and them booing him for beating The Rock.
Speaking of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, if Foley – the artist formerly known as Mankind – can be considered to have had a comedy career all along, Johnson was his de facto first comedy partner. They fought against each other and together as a tag team.
“It was very natural with me and The Rock. The best parts were when the RAW match actually ended, and we would go on for 20 minutes and people just ate it up. None of it was scripted. It was just a natural progression, me stealing his catchphrases, him reprimanding me, giving me, ‘The look.’”
In a wrestling world full of heroes and heels, Mick Foley stood out as a likeable character that he has referred to as, “King of the Dorks,” a persona change he undertook in the late ‘90s. “People between ages of 21-40, there’s a very good chance statistically that at some point in their childhood, I did scare the heck out of them,” he says. “But anybody who’s watched me over the last 15 years knows that I am essentially a pretty goodhearted guy.”
Recently, in an episode of WWE Countdown, he says, “The Rock and I placed fourth on the list of All-Time Great Tag Teams – which is way more indicative of how we made people feel as opposed to the great matches we had in the ring. We were only partners for a few months, as opposed to the guys who’d been great partners for eight years and didn’t even place.”
Foley laughs and agrees wholeheartedly with my suggestion that if you took the wrestling out of professional wrestling, it would still be entertaining. “I know when I look through the shows I haven’t seen, I almost always fast-forward through the matches to get to the non-wrestling parts. Sometimes wrestling seems like the reason to get to the good stuff.”
The draw of live entertainment is strong, he adds. The Rock had to put big-budget films on hold after being injured for a relatively small payday in a WrestleMania appearance.
“I understand it. There’s an allure to it, that live instantaneous feedback,” Foley says. “If you’re a movie actor, it’s like getting that jolt from playing live on Broadway. For me, my one-man show is a way of feeling the same high I used to feel in the ring – onstage without getting hurt. So even though it’s a smaller audience, I really get the same gratification that I used to after a great match in front of 15,000 people.”