In the wacky and wicked world of professional wrestling, Mick Foley is regarded as the hard-core legend. Known for his multiple personalities — brawler Cactus Jack, '70s burnout Dude Love and maniacal Mankind — Foley left fans wondering if he felt pain as his opponents battered him with barbed-wire baseball bats and steel chairs or threw him off — and through — a 16-foot steel cage known as Hell in a Cell.
Mrs. Foley's Baby Boy didn't just win over fans with his bloody brawls. He proved to be the funniest grappler in the game, dispatching his enemies with his tube-sock tag-team partner, Mr. Socko. His humorous autobiographies became best-sellers. So it's no surprise that Foley's life after competing in wrestling rings has led him to comedy festivals and clubs around the world, including a two-night, four-show performance January 11–12 at Stanford's Comedy Club. (Shows are at 7:45 and 9:45 p.m. Tickets cost $15–$50.)
Fourteen years to the day after WWE televised his first WWE Championship victory over the Rock, Foley spoke with The Pitch.
The Pitch: What's pushing you to try your hand at comedy?
Foley: I really enjoy being up onstage. It reminds me of my days as commissioner in WWE in 2000 when I had a microphone and could basically say anything I wanted to. I miss those days, so I take advantage of the opportunity to re-create that feeling.
Who comes to the shows?
It is predominantly a wrestling audience, but I try to make it very welcoming to those brave enough to wander in from the cold. Probably my favorite review of one of my shows was from a decidedly non-wrestling fan, reviewing me for a decidedly non-wrestling online magazine called Broadway Babies. Her final line was, "If you're interested in wrestling, you'll love it. And if you're not, you'll like it." A lot of reviewers have gone out of their way to state that they enjoyed the show despite not being a wrestling fan. I take a lot of pride in that.
How much of your act is wrestling stories?
Almost all of it. And if it's not a wrestling story, I try to base it on something that I learned during my 27 years on the road traveling the world. Basically, if people have enjoyed my books, which had plenty of non-wrestling stories in them, they'll enjoy the shows.
Are you finding that you enjoy this as much as wrestling?
It's not a vast departure. It's just an extension of wrestling.
Do I enjoy coming to Kansas City as much as I enjoyed winning the WWE title 14 years ago? Nothing's going to stack up to that. But I really enjoy it. I'll be cutting way back in 2013 on the number of dates I do. I believe KC is the first show where I'm doing multiple dates. It's usually one and out. The idea of doing four here, that means that it's different. It's not the type of show that casual comedy fans wander into. So it's really going to take some participation from my wrestling audience to make these shows work.
Your name has been thrown out as the first inductee in the 2013 WWE Hall of Fame class. What would that mean to you?
It would mean that the rumors that I started spreading about it were effective. It would be a huge honor, especially in Madison Square Garden. WWE does a great job of trying to induct people in geographic areas that mean something to them. For me, being inducted in an arena that I specifically used to hitchhike to and take trains alone to would be a great honor.
In wrestling, the peak is being champion or main-eventing WrestleMania. What is your WrestleMania of comedy?
I really enjoyed a couple of my Edinburgh shows last summer, and I enjoyed my Montreal shows. I think the idea that I could go into the two biggest and most prestigious comedy festivals in the world and impress people in the comedy world and be accepted by people in that world as being a good performer, as opposed to a curiosity, was probably my WrestleMania moment in comedy so far — until I set foot on the stage of Stanford's.
Louis C.K. has famously gone out of his way to say how much he hates Kansas City.
[Laughs.] That's right. He had that great spot with the morning zoo.
Do you have any reservations about coming to KC?
Not until you mentioned that. I don't know. Did he single it out on any occasion other than that?
Yeah, he went on The Tonight Show and told Jay Leno how much he hated coming to Kansas City, that it's a dump and he wasn't telling the people anything they didn't already know. Then he worked it into an episode of his FX show with the morning zoo. But he kept plugging Stanford's.
No kidding. I met Louis years ago. He's a big wrestling fan. And I was asked to be on the show, and I couldn't get the time off — this was a few years ago before I went back to WWE. Wish I'd have done it.
I'll have to judge for myself. You end up making your own good time. I've had some of my best times in comedy with some of the smallest crowds in some of the worst places. I'm not calling Stanford's one of the worst places by any means as I've never been there. They had the faith to book me for four shows in two nights, so I'm looking forward to it. Probably now more than ever.