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.

Most who recognize Mick Foley know him as the wrestler Mankind, but ďThe Hardcore LegendĒ has always had a soft spot for making people laugh. Foley, whoís 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 itís only in the last year that Iíve really concentrated on it. Iíd always been a fan of stand-up comedy. I always enjoyed making people laugh when I had the microphone throughout my wresting career. Peopleís responses are almost entirely positive.

Good to hear itís going well. What else have you got coming up?

I think the stuff is just getting better, as everything does with experience. And Iím really making a concentrated effort to get together more material out there.

Iím doing the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August, and Iím going to be doing five shows at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal.

Who are some comedians whoíve inspired you?

I remember sitting with friends and listening to comedy albums when I was younger. The first one being George Carlin ďClass Clown,Ē 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 theyíre wrestling fans. I also donít want to alienate anybody who just wants to see good comedy.

A lot of wrestling fans will say it was great, but Iíve also found that non-wrestling fans specifically seek me to say, ďHey, I really enjoyed that.Ē Everyone has their thing, and Iíd 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?

Iíll mention some politics because Ohio is a battleground state. I may hone in on how wrong it is that candidates flock to Ohio and weíll never see them in New York. Itís like if a resident of Iowa hasnít been catered to personally by a presidential candidate they havenít been out very much. I make sure that if Iím threatening to get too deep, I do something shallow in a hurry.