Interview: Mick Foley
Yep – this is actually happening. Former WWE Champion and New York Times best-selling author Mick Foley will begin his short stand-up tour of the UK on Sunday 6th November at Apollo 23 in Glasgow. Foley, who made his return to the WWE in Dublin this week, will then appear at The Dancehouse Theatre in Manchester, The Glee Club in Nottingham, The Journal Tyne Theatre in Newcastle – which will be reviewed by Giggle Beats – and finally Leicester Square Theatre, London on Saturday 12th.
Andrew Dipper gave ‘The Hardcore Legend’ a grilling ahead of his switch from the ring to the stage…
AD: Hiya Mick. Comedy’s just wrestling without the spandex, right?
MF: Actually, I think spandex has been on the decline for a while in the wrestling world. Guys are using different fibers. My last pair of classic leopard tights was actually made out of black velvet. Why velvet, you may ask? Good question. Velvet minimizes the dimples, bulges and other flaws that come with the territory of being mid-forties and several stones too large.
But there will be no stretchy materials for me in the UK . This is the “Nights in Red Flannel” tour, and darn it, that’s what I’m going to wear. Flannel and sweats. But yes, there are certain elements in comedy that are very much the same. The ecstasy and the agony – depending on how the set or the match goes – is pretty much the same. I’d say there is far less late-night hospital visits in comedy, though.
AD: Why and how did you end up getting into comedy then?
MF: I had spoken at many universities over the years, so getting onto the stand-up stage didn’t seem like much of a departure. But sometimes, there is a huge difference between humorous and funny. It’s natural for me to be humorous. But really getting the big laughs requires lots of thought and work. So I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and working in preparation for this tour. There may be certain things I’ll be trying out on a nightly basis, but I won’t be heading to the stage with just faith and few ideas. Some of it will be new – other material will be tried and true.
AD: How did the UK tour come about? I understand comedian Chris Brooker helped with a lot of things…
MF: Chris Brooker just would not leave me alone! Finally, after about the 30th e-mail (and the 47th late night call!) I was like, ‘Fine, book me…I’ll go to the UK. Just leave me alone!”
Actually, Chris was great. He brought this up to me at a time where I really felt I wasn’t going to pursue the comedy thing. But I had a great comedy show in upstate New York, way up near Canada – where you Brits, and the French, and the Indians spilled a lot of blood for no particular reason about 140 years ago. After that, I sent Chris a line, saying, “Hey, let’s do it!” I’ve been working on my stuff ever since.
And yes, I know there was a reason for that war.
AD: Are you worried that people will be coming to see you because of your reputation as a wrestler rather as a comedian? If that’s the case, there’s a chance they will leave disappointed…
MF: Oh yeah, I imagine most people will be there primarily because they like me as a wrestler. But I think UK fans have shown a lot of faith in me when it comes to work I do outside of wrestling. They even bought my novel and nominated it for an award. Funny, because the US prides itself as being the land of opportunity, when, in truth, I think they are far more pessimistic when it comes to matters like this. Slowly but surely, though, word has been getting around – and it’s been really positive. I’ve been putting clips up on my website so people can check it out for themselves.
Without sounding overly self-important here, I try to take people on a bit of a journey at these shows, and they really do seem to enjoy the ride, even if it’s not filled with non-stop laughter. Don’t worry, though, there will be some laughter, too…
AD: Out of curiosity, would you regard wrestling as an art form? What ‘wrestling’ skills do you think are transferable into the world of comedy?
MF: Oh, I definitely think of both wrestling and comedy as art forms. It’s not a contest, like swimming or racing, where there is a first place, a second place, etc. There’s a guy [in America] called Larry the Cable Guy who is phenomenally popular. I mean the guy fills 15,000 seaters. But some people see it as the least sophisticated, least funny form of entertainment ever…except, you know, for pro-wrestling.
But in both comedy and wrestling, there are different strokes for different folks. One size does not fit all when it comes to either comedy or wrestling.
AD: I suppose this is the type of question you get asked all the time, but do you think wrestlers set a good example to children? The same question applies to modern stand-up, too, I suppose…
MF: I think the only real obligation performers, artists or athletes have to their audience is to put on the best possible show they can. But it’s that time away from the stage, ring or field that defines who we are as human beings – which happens to mean far more to me than what people think of me as a performer.
I try my best to be as appreciative, patient and understanding outside the ring or the stage as I can be. But I wouldn’t try to tell any other artist what they should or should not do when it comes to their own personal time. Some people do better than others living in that fishbowl of fame. Sometimes it does get old – but not as old as the entire world forgetting your name. Most of the time I’m genuinely happy to see the people who make my living possible – other times I do a good job of pretending…
I have a four hour meet and greet before my show in London – safe to say by hour four there’s going to be a whole lot of faking going on!
Tickets are still available for Mick Foley’s show in Newcastle Upon Tyne on Friday 11th November. For more imformation visit the Journal Tyne Theatre’s website here.