WWE superstar Mick Foley: "I don't do standup; I'm a storyteller"
In the late-'90s, WWE superstar Mick Foley was known as the "hardcore legend" of pro wresting, thanks to his brutal, bloody brawls with the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock. He's been thrown off stages, tossed on thumbtacks, and even set on fire. But none of that could have prepared him for his newest challenge: standup comedy.
"I personally don't think I do standup; I'm a storyteller," Foley says about his live comedy stage show. "I think saying I do standup scares off wrestling fans, but I'm not doing one-liners in a bowtie. If you're a wrestling fan, you'll love the show. And if you're not a wrestling fan, you'll still like it."
This Saturday night, Foley makes a stop in Minnesota for two shows at the New Hope Cinema Grill, where he'll share tales from the ring along with his thoughts on the current state of wrestling. Before the man known as Mankind/Cactus Jack/Dude Love takes the stage, we talked with the WWE Hall of Famer about his time in the ring, his new career onstage, and why he almost hit his daughter's TV with a baseball bat.
You've said you don't consider your show standup. How would you describe it?
It's really all about storytelling. Back when I was wrestling, part of what made me successful was my ability to cut good promos on the microphone. That's kind of what I'm doing during my show. I'll tell stories, and sometimes they pay off with a big laugh, and then other times I don't want laughs. I've actually had other comedians tell me they wish they could command silence like I do, which is a pretty cool compliment.
A lot of your autobiographical stories have been told through your best-selling memoirs. Do you pull material from your books?
Some of it I do, yeah. The one thing that's tough for me is when there are overzealous wrestling fans at the shows that want to yell out the ending to my stories before I can finish. Please, please don't do that. I'm trying to take audience members on a journey, and it's not fair to spoil the ending before I can get them there. It's like if you went to a Steve Earl concert and yelled out every word to every one of his songs five seconds before he sang them.
Do you have any sort of fan interaction during your shows?
I do a Q&A as part of my show, so it gives fans the chance to talk about their favorite stories or ask about anything else they might want to know. I still love performing just like I did when I was in the ring, and the biggest part of that is giving the fans what they want.
Other WWE superstars have appeared at your shows unannounced. Has it been cool to get that kind of support from your peers?
It has been really cool. CM Punk showed up to my show in Chicago, but he was sort of low key and didn't want to be a part of the show. William Regal has shown up and done some stuff onstage that was tremendous. Dolph Ziggler, who is a big name on the roster right now, he's been doing open mics and writing his own standup material so that he can open for me. I think he might open the two shows in Minnesota, in fact.
Your shows in Minnesota are the night before the big WWE Elimination Chamber pay-per-view at the Target Center. Even though you've been away from the ring for a while, do you find that fans are still really interested in your opinion about the current state of wrestling?
To be honest, I think having me give an opinion has been sort of toxic lately. I know that I was watching last month's Royal Rumble and I almost took my daughter's TV outside and hit it with a baseball bat when Daniel Bryan didn't enter. Then I talked about it on Twitter and a few other places, and I think a lot of people shared those same opinions. Regardless of what I think, it feels great to still be considered influential in the sport. The fact that people want to know my opinion at all is really flattering to me. I spent 18 years in the sport, and it makes me feel like I inspired something great. Hopefully those same feelings come through in my shows.
IF YOU GO:
New Hope Cinema Grill
Saturday, February 22, 7 & 9:30 p.m.
Click here for more details
Get the Arts & Culture Newsletter
Find out about arts and culture events in Minneapolis & St. Paul and offers you won't hear about anywhere else.