Call him Mankind. Call him Dude Love, Cactus Jack, the hardcore legend, even a bestselling author. Call him a standup comedian? Mick Foley would very much like you to.
“It’s been a real challenge,” the iconic wrestler said in a phone interview before his upcoming gig at Zoofest, “trying to get the same people who will gladly wait in line two hours for my autograph to try one of my comedy shows.”
For inspiration in trying to break his own mold and fans’ comfort zones, Foley looks to expected role models like The Rock but also some unanticipated ones like Justin Timberlake. While I never thought I’d hear the man all-too-comfortable with barbed wire and thumbtacks praise the former singer of N’Sync, it makes sense:
“I admire the fact that he has made fans out of people that absolutely cannot stand his music.”
The obstacle of fan expectations goes both ways, too. Success in the wrestling world could potentially alienate the people who populate comedy clubs on a regular basis.
“In wrestling, we call it negative heat,” he noted, “people might actually be more likely to go to a comedy club to see someone they’ve never heard of than someone they have heard of but from a different avenue.”
Now, the man who once drove two hours every day to get to the gym to train in hopes of breaking into the pro wrestling circuit is putting the same energy and drive into his new career goal. A career goal he has been working hard at achieving for two years.
“I think it’s a matter of time and perseverance,” Foley argued, “and that’s why I’m approaching my shows in Montreal and Edinburgh with such excitement.”
Montreal has always been a wrestling town and one with a checkered history which Foley knows well (he alluded to the infamous Montreal Screwjob when mentioning that he was going to talk with Bret Heart that night). It is equally, if not more, well-known as a comedy town.
“I’ve always enjoyed wrestling in Montreal,” he observed, “I understand the history of it…if you combine a town with such a great wrestling history and comedy history it should make for a very unique atmosphere.”
He won’t be alone when he enters that unique atmosphere tonight. Well-known comic Brendon Burns, a wrestling fan in his own right, was inspired by Foley’s writing and took the hardcore legend under his comedic wing.
“After hearing him do an entire hour,” Foley said about Burns, “I thought I really better raise my game just to be in the same building as this guy.”
Foley points to the joys in performing and the concept that every match has to be your best match as similarities between the wrestling and comedy business. But, has his wrestling experience prepared Foley for the comedy world?
“Wrestling has prepared me for anything, any and all challenges,” he said, “at a certain point I felt comfortable debating foreign policy with the head of the world bank Paul Wolfovitz. It’s been a great education and it certainly made me feel like anything is possible if I give it a shot.”
Good God Almighty with Brendon Burns and Mick Foley runs July 25th, 27th & 28th at 11:59pm @ Underworld as part of Zoofest. Tickets available online.