Wrestling with laughter
Mick Foley brings his one-man show to Ventura
By Chris Jay 08/14/2014
Say what you will about professional wrestling, but when it’s done right, it’s great storytelling. With that said, perhaps no wrestler in the history of “sports entertainment,” has weaved a tale in and out of the ring quite like Mick Foley. From his long career as a death-defying wrestler (who sacrificed his body, including the better part of an ear) to eventually becoming a bona fide superstar; to his surprise run as a best-selling author, birthing the popular genre of wrestling autobiographies; and his tireless work on behalf of charities, including RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network); and now, his work in the world of comedy, Foley is nothing short of a modern-day renaissance man. In advance of his first visit to Ventura, VCReporter caught up with the beloved hardcore-legend; to discuss a variety of subjects, including comedy, literature, film and why exactly he’s worn a piece of Christmas-related clothing every single day so far this year.
VCReporter: You spent your entire adult life on the road as a wrestler. Now you’re back on the road doing comedy. Your wife cannot be happy about that!
Mick Foley: To the contrary, I think Dolly Parton defined the secret to a successful marriage as spending quality time apart. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and I’m absent a lot. (Laughs). It’s actually been pretty good for our marriage.
Did you expect to have so much success with stand-up?
I’m going to go ahead and make the correction from calling what I do stand-up to a wrestling-centric storytelling show. Just so I don’t scare away wrestling fans who might be on the fence, but don’t want to hear me tell jokes about politics and the weather. To answer your question, it’s really taken off, for me at least, because it’s such a mobile show. It’s just me and a rental car. There’s no cast or crew. No load-in or load-out. Really easy to set up. It’s a very pure form of entertainment and people have reacted really well to the show.
At this point, is the audience more comedy fans or wrestling fans?
Ninety-five percent wrestling fans. If there’s someone there that’s not a wrestling fan, there’s a good chance they’ve been dragged there against their will. (Laughs). However, they do end up having a good time.
Do you get the same level of excitement doing comedy in small venues that you did wrestling in sold-out arenas?
It reminds me so much of the things I loved about wrestling. Doing these shows reminds me of those days when I could have an idea and just throw it out there on live TV to see if it worked or failed. Once the environment changed and I realized I would not have that opportunity anymore, I started looking for other ways where I could relive that joy, and I found it on stage doing comedy. Even if it’s a light crowd, tearing the house down in front of 80 people really does feel an awful lot like tearing the house down in front of 15,000.
What’s the latest with your writing career? Most people figured with all the success of your autobiographies you would naturally become a full-time author.
Well that was my plan but then no one bought my novel. (Laughs.) I realized that to really gain a new readership would require me probably working really diligently on six or seven novels at a time and I just thought that as the father of four, putting that type of emphasis into writing ahead of being a dad was just kind of selfish. With writing a very solitary, very private affair. Never say never, though. I may write a short memoir [about] my experiences as Santa Claus with no expectations of gaining a large readership for it, but I believe I could tell some stories that would touch people who appreciate Santa.
About Santa. If someone were to suddenly follow you on Twitter or Facebook, frankly the whole Santa thing could come off a little creepy.
(Laughs). Yeah. Outside looking in, if you found out one of your favorite wrestlers has been dressed in something Santa Claus-related for 264 straight days, it might seem odd; but I got involved in a documentary called, I Am Santa Claus. It’s about real-life guys who dedicate a good portion of their lives portraying this iconic character. It follows them around for the rest of the year to see what they do when they’re not in the red suit. I could have just dabbled in it, but I tend to dive head-first into projects. I really fell in love with the experience of being Santa. Not just throwing on beard and suit, but trying my best to inhabit that character and bring joy to children. I try to have a little bit of that with me every day of the year.
Speaking of movies that could touch a lot of people, what’s the latest on the movie based on your autobiography?
The producers and myself ran into a lot of different ideas where the story should go. I kind of lost interest along the way. I thought we were all on the same page but we weren’t. No hard feelings at all. We didn’t accomplish the script. Partially my fault. Someone else was writing it. I had a lot of input. I guess I wasn’t as interested in turning that vision into a reality as you should be to make a movie, let alone a biopic. (Laughs).
Could that come back on the table at some point? The book is a masterpiece. Touching, inspiring, funny and very visual. It seems as though it would translate so well to film.
I don’t know. They did such a great job with the DVD about me, For All Mankind, that there’s really no need for a biopic. Honestly, I bring the story to life on stage every night in a way that you probably can’t do, even with all the talented videographers in the world. I can really bring those stories in the book to life on stage. Sure, I might be willing to revisit the idea at some point, but so much time has elapsed. There was talk of me playing myself but that’s completely ludicrous now. One of the problems is who do you get to play me? Every action hero in Hollywood looks like a million bucks and a big part of my story is, I did not. (Laughs).
It doesn’t bother you at all that Overtime starring Al Snow got made before your biopic?
(Laughs.) I never thought about it that way, but now that I am . . . I’ve never felt like such a failure. (Laughs.)
You’ve exceeded all expectations in wrestling, literature and now comedy. What could possibly be next for Mick Foley?
Once this Santa documentary comes out, I’m throwing my hat in the ring to try to land a prime Santa role in a movie or TV [show]. Then I’ll see if I can’t reconnect with WWE to film one of my shows and give their audience a better idea of what I do. In the meantime, I’m having more fun than I’ve had in years.
Mick Foley will appear at the Ventura Harbor Comedy Club on Friday, Aug. 15, and Saturday, Aug. 16. For tickets, visit www.venturaharborcomedyclub.com. For more information on Mick Foley and his various projects, visit www.realmickfoley.com.