Most who recognize Mick Foley know him as the wrestler Mankind, but “The Hardcore Legend” has always had a soft spot for making people laugh. Foley, who’s performing two shows Thursday night, spoke with me about his favorite comedians, how wrestling plays a role in his stand-up comedy and why Ohioans are spoiled, politically.
How long have you been doing stand-up?
I started doing stand-up about three years ago, but it’s only in the last year that I’ve really concentrated on it. I’d always been a fan of stand-up comedy. I always enjoyed making people laugh when I had the microphone throughout my wresting career. People’s responses are almost entirely positive.
Good to hear it’s going well. What else have you got coming up?
I think the stuff is just getting better, as everything does with experience. And I’m really making a concentrated effort to get together more material out there.
I’m doing the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August, and I’m going to be doing five shows at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal.
Who are some comedians who’ve inspired you?
I remember sitting with friends and listening to comedy albums when I was younger. The first one being George Carlin “Class Clown,” which is one of the great all-time comedy albums. I was a huge fan of Steve Martin, and I enjoyed things like old Bob Newhart records. He could put together a one-way imaginary phone conversation for twenty minutes and break up an entire room.
I really admire the guys who really study the language and have fun with words, like a George Carlin, but I also enjoy the great storytellers, like a Bill Cosby.
Does your wrestling career provide material?
What I try to do is use wrestling as a stepping-off point. I accept that most people are there because they’re wrestling fans. I also don’t want to alienate anybody who just wants to see good comedy.
A lot of wrestling fans will say it was great, but I’ve also found that non-wrestling fans specifically seek me to say, “Hey, I really enjoyed that.” Everyone has their thing, and I’d be foolish to ignore the 27 years I spent in wrestling, but I think my experience reaches people far beyond wrestling.
What other places do you find material?
I’ll mention some politics because Ohio is a battleground state. I may hone in on how wrong it is that candidates flock to Ohio and we’ll never see them in New York. It’s like if a resident of Iowa hasn’t been catered to personally by a presidential candidate they haven’t been out very much. I make sure that if I’m threatening to get too deep, I do something shallow in a hurry.