Foley performs comedy at Zanies
By Annie Alleman For Sun-Times Media August 1, 2013 5:51PM
Mick Foley: Tales of Wrestling Past
♦ Aug. 8
♦ Zanies Comedy Club, 5437 Park Place, Rosemont
♦ Tickets, $25
♦ (847) 813-0484
Mick Foley realized that sometimes you gotta give the people what they want.
And what they want from him is the dish on his glory days as one of the top superstars in the WWE.
Foley bring his one-man show, “Mick Foley: Tales of Wrestling Past,” to Zanies Comedy Club in Rosemont Aug. 8 for a 9:30 p.m. show.
Foley, a three-time WWE champion, was a key member of the WWE’s glory days of the late 1990s, and is known as “The Hardcore Legend” for the lengthy list of injuries and punishments he’s put his body through in nearly three decades of wrestling.
“I realized after my first few years that no matter what I thought the show was supposed to be, that 95 percent of the people who were taking a chance on it were wrestling fans,” he said. “And it wasn’t until I went to the Montreal Just for Laughs Festival, that I finally realized that if people wanted humorous stories outside of wrestling, that there were plenty — and I mean hundreds of thousands of other places to go. At that point, I realized that the world of professional wrestling is vast, and I became very comfortable very quickly being ‘The Wrestling Guy.’ So while they are primarily wrestling stories geared towards wrestling fans, every night I have non-fans, usually a dedicated spouse, who will go out of her way to tell me how much they enjoyed themselves.”
It’s both flattering and frustrating to hear from audience members that they enjoy the show so much more than they were counting on, he said.
“It’s hard work. It’s been an uphill struggle ever since I did a show in upstate New York where I realized people were actually leaving after the meet and greet because they had already got what it was they wanted,” he said. “So I’ve worked really hard the last few years to make people realize an evening spent with me is an evening they will really enjoy.”
Foley entered the literary world by writing his own memoir, “Have a Nice Day!” in 1999. It went on the top the New York Times Bestseller list. His follow-up, “Foley is Good,” also went to No. 1 in 2001. He’s also written two other memoirs, four children’s books and two novels.
He promises that his show isn’t simply a live version of his autobiographies.
“I’ll tell a few classics that you may remember from the books ... but some of the stories are from the very recent past that wrestling fans may not know,” he said. “Fans will get to know me better and get a real good sense of who I am and what I find funny. And almost always the women in the crowd leave thinking I’m a pretty good guy who’s worth spending some time with.”
That’s true – Foley has been honored for his work with RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual assault organization, with a “Medal of Reasonableness” from Jon Stewart at 2010’s “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.”
He’s got such a good-guy reputation among his fellow wrestlers, in fact, that they don’t mind him telling tales on them.
“I had a real breakthrough last year when I knew that wrestler Diamond Dallas Page would be in the audience,” he said. “I had a real great story about DDP in my 1999 book, but with the exception of an answer at a college Q-and-A, I’d never publicly told the story. So I spent the entire coast-to-coast flight re-writing it for the stage. And when I delivered it, I had this real feeling of gratification of knowing I could take a story, re-write it and make it brand new again. I don’t tell it every night. But I do it with the help of different comics that are supporting me, and it’s really a big-time crowd pleaser — like a band singing its greatest hit would be.”
He is still involved in the WWE as an ambassador for the company, and later this month will resume his role as general manager on “Saturday Morning Slam,” which is a show geared towards a younger audience.
Additionally, he has a documentary in the works funded through a successful Kickstarter campaign called “I Am Santa Claus.” It’s a look at six men who — spoiler alert — don the red suit, including himself.
“I liken it to ‘Beyond the Mat’ without the bloodshed,” he joked.
He also has several projects in the works, including writing a WWE comic book, a WWE children’s story and he recently wrote the text to all 120 cards in the new TOPS trading cards series.
“It’s about 10,000 total words, all of which has to be researched,” he said. “I hope people enjoy them, but my frame of mind while writing them was, ‘This is not a good idea.’”
He adds that while a lot of fans are aware he does these shows, they haven’t made the connection that this is an extension of what they love about wrestling as they did with his memoirs, he said.
“Once they come, it is really a fun evening and it’s not one I can promise I’ll be delivering next year given my WWE duties,” he said.