Mick Foley Talks About His Comedy Career, John Cena, What’s Next For Him, Wrestling & More
WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley recently took some time to participate in an exclusive interview with PWMania.com. A former multi-time WWE champion, Foley is now a full time comedian who performs around the world. Foley talks about his favorite places to perform, the kind of crowds he performs for, his routine, what’s next for him and much more. Check out the complete interview below:
Mick, it’s an honor to have you here with us at PWMania.com! What inspired you to do standup comedy?
I try to nip the idea of standup at the start because wrestling fans are interested in hearing me tell stories about my career. They’re not interested in hearing me tell setups and punch lines. So I try my best to assure them that I will not be telling jokes, but that I will be telling stories.
So the inspiration came from the very first day that I read the first chapter out loud to some of my co-workers in the dressing room. Once I found out that I could get the same reaction from listeners that which I thrived on in front of wrestling fans, I realized I may have an entirely new way of connecting with an audience.
How’s your World Tour going so far?
I got a 50 date schedule and I’ll be announcing 20 more in western Canada and that’s just through November. People are really thrilled, they don’t know what to expect and we just shatter their expectations.
What’s your favorite place to perform?
It’s tough to say, because I’ve enjoyed so many of the clubs. It doesn’t really matter if it’s 20,000 people or 200. As long as you see faces out there and they are reacting, any place could be a fun place. With that being said, there are cities I have history in, such as Philly, Pittsburgh and dozens of other cities across the country. So it’s great news when I found out that Philly just sold out four weeks in advance. My show on the 19th in Washington, which was a fundraiser for RAINN (Rape Abuse & Incest National Network) sold out a month in advance. I was able to add a second date, so now I’m calling the shows “Two Days of RAINN.” I think we’re going to raise close to $10,000 for RAINN in two days.
My show in Tampa was great because it’s a huge wrestling city and I was able to invite Gerald Brisco and Robert Fuller to be a part of the Q&A. And I’m really looking forward to the Boston shows, especially the Saturday night show because it’s the night before the Money in the Bank pay-per-view, which is also in Boston. So, I’m extending an invitation to some of my friends in WWE. I already have a commitment from John Cena, Sr. who is going to help me reenact one of the greatest or worst moments in WWE history, depending on how you look at it, and that is the This is Your Life: John Cena.
I pulled John Cena, Jr. aside at a recent show and asked “How would you feel about me having your dad come onstage to reprise his role from that night?” And John looked at me and he said “Please…” and then he hesitated and I thought he was going to say don’t do it. But he said “Do it!” So I know he’ll love it.
It’s really a lot of fun for me and I look forward to these shows the same way I used to look forward to house shows in great towns and even the pay-per-views. Nowadays when I do my comedy shows, people can tell this is not something I just arrived at. It is something I’ve worked on for years.
When you’re performing, do you feel that your crowds are mostly wrestling fans? Or are there non-wrestling fans in there as well?
It’s about 95 percent wrestling fans. But the non-fans, who are usually the spouses or significant others of the wrestling fans, are there and a lot of times they go out of their way to tell me how much fun they’ve had. So I approach comedy the same way I did with my books: They are clearly meant for wrestling fans, but you do not have to be a wrestling fan to enjoy what I do.
So if someone wants to see a comedy show and they are not a wrestling fan, why would they choose to see Mick Foley?
Well, if you’re not a wrestling fan, you usually wouldn’t pick Mick Foley as your choice to see a show. Your boyfriend or husband picks me for you. In many cases, the spouse buys the tickets as a surprise and ends up having a much better time.
But why pick Mick Foley? Because it’s a funny show with an underlying sense of warmth that makes everyone feel welcome whether they are a wrestling historian or whether they actively dislike that particular form of entertainment.
When you’re on stage talking about your career in wrestling and the people who are not wrestling fans have no idea what you are talking about, how do you draw them in?
I’ll really just tell entertaining stories about fascinating people. I’ll preface names by introducing Vince McMahon as the benevolent billionaire who owns WWE. Or occasionally if there’s a crowd chant, I’ll just look at the fans and say “…I have no idea how to explain that.”
Sometimes I’ll get people that will fill in the lines. I’ll say “Dozens” and then 300 people will say “and dozens!” And I’ll look at the non wrestling fans and say “Yeah, I can’t explain that.”
So, in essence, your comedy routine is similar to pro wrestling in that the fans are helping you tell your story.
Well, I want to be careful there because the only problem I run into is not with hecklers, but with the overenthusiastic fans who believe they are adding to the show by yelling out endings to stories. In that case, I will tell them that most people in attendance would rather have me finish the story instead of them.
For example if I was telling the cookie story, someone would yell “Cookies!” Or I would tell the story about a former U.S. president being familiar with my catchphrase and then the fans yell out the catchphrase, which kind of ruins the story. At that point, I will remind them firmly but politely that no one is there to hear them.
Do you ever bring out Mr. Socko or any part of your past wrestling gimmicks as part of your routine?
Not in a few years. I’ve been doing this for five years and realized that reenacting the glory days of Mr. Socko is probably not in anybody’s best interest.
When I first started comedy, I did it more, because I was trying everything and anything. It’s kind of like an indy wrestler who can do any move in the repertoire of wrestling history but then they realize that they work far better within the confines of the character.
Instead of looking at the set as an endless palette of human interest stories, world news and politics, sexually suggestive material and anything else that other comics may talk about, I realize that I am “The Wrestling Guy.” I find that I can venture into other subjects as long as I use wrestling as my tether, to which I must.
One of these days, I’d be interested in going out as a supporting act for a big-name comedian and give people my non-wrestling stuff. I do think of things that are interesting that I can make funny. But I don’t want to be Mick Jagger on a solo tour refusing to play Stones tunes.
Have you ever done a show without talking about wrestling?
Yeah, I used to do unannounced guest sets where I would have 10 minutes where I wouldn’t do material about wrestling. It’s good to have those experiences, but those are not the experiences that I wish to bring on a tour called The Hardcore Legend Tour.
What’s next for Mick Foley?
204 more days of Santa Claus attire! And a fanny pack at every stop. I’m really excited about the Santa Claus documentary. I posted a really nice article about another documentary that I helped fund and produced about the crisis of sexual bullying in schools and society. I’m continuing to try to make a difference wherever I go.
Well, Mick, thanks again for your time! PWMania.com is excited about your current endeavors and wishes you the best!