WrestlingINC.com owner Raj Giri recently spoke with Hardcore legend Mick Foley, who discussed his upcoming comedy tour in Australia and his new book, A Most Mizerable Christmas. Here is the full interview:
* * *
WrestlingINC: With the Attitude Era DVD coming out, looking back at it, what would you say differentiated that era and today's current product the most?
Foley: Obviously, it was a lot different. We were trying things that had never been done. We had a lot of guys that were kind of peaking at the same time. Guys who had kind of been around and been cutting promos and kind of hitting their stride simultaneously.
We always tried to top each other and push the envelope a little farther. At a certain point, you can't do that anymore. Can you imagine if they continued that path? The show would be unrecognizable.
So, I'm glad they decided to step back and decided to go PG. Every once in a while, when they bring in a more harder-hitting element, it really connects.
Foley: Yeah. I think it's like baseball. People say, 'Could the hitters of that era have competed with the pitchers who throw harder with more variations?' I think the best people always find a way to survive and thrive.
I mean, nothing is for sure. Bruno Sammartino's name is thrown around -- he knew how to connect. He knew how to get over with an audience. He would have been just fine.
WrestlingINC: When did you first start thinking about stand-up comedy?
Foley: Well, what's surprising to me is how surprised people are that I do it. Actually, I should have started labeling it spoken word or a one-man show two years ago when I started getting serious about it. It's not your traditional stand-up and I think that's what keeps people away.
My signings draw more than my comedy shows even though my comedy shows are a lot more fun. They're the same price, you get the same autograph and instead of standing for two hours, you're sitting in comfort. People don't know what to expect.
Brendon Burns, who's been doing the Australian tour with me and has been kind of a mentor to me, said, 'Mate, I think I get it. When people think comedy, there have been so many bad crossover artists that go up there with a wacky tie telling bad stories. You fall into that and people think that's going to be me.
So, it is more of a story telling thing. It's more wrestling stories, from a wrestler geared towards wrestling fans but other people enjoy it as well. I feel like I've had some cool experiences and stories that are interesting to everyone. I go out there and tell them as an extension of what it did in the business as opposed to a dramatic departure from it.
WrestlingINC: You've mentioned Burns and you've done some stuff with him in the U.K. and you'll be performing with him in Australia in Australia. How did you guys get in touch?
Foley: Yeah, Brendon and I will be in Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne February 1st through the 12th. You can go to RealMickFoley.com/events and you can look for a show if you're down under. But Brendon's been doing comedy for 23 years. He won the Edinburgh Award which is like winning... the Edinburgh Award. It's like winning an Academy Award for comedy in Europe. Signifying him as the best comedian of that year at the Edinburgh festival.
Though he's not like a household name here, he's one of the cult comics and he loves wrestling. The idea for him that he gets to do wrestling material is something he's wanted to do for years. He does a lot of socially conscious stuff and he's very, very intelligent. But he loves giving his take on wrestling. It is intelligent stuff but it is hilarious.
It's not for the easily offended. He's gets out there and he'll get a little rougher with the language than I do. But we just met along the way. He came and did a guest set at one of my shows and we clicked immediately. We decided to do some shows together.
WrestlingINC: What do you think is most different about performing here in the U.S. versus overseas? Do you have to change your set quite a bit?
Foley: I haven't performed in Australia so we'll see. It's like doing (wrestling) shows, every crowd is a little bit different. In comedy, you have to factor in the alcohol content. When I'm doing my U.K. tour -- and we're going to be announcing my U.K. tour in a couple of days and that goes from April 26th through May 12th I think. One of the things I'm trying to figure out is how do we make people know that this is not an event that they should be hammered for.
When you're hammered, you lose that sense of subtly. My fans, they don't heckle as much as they just randomly yell out people's names and that's not helpful. So, we're trying to do the meets-and-greets after the shows for example so people don't have two hours to get stewed.
It's a lot of experimentation and see what they're buying. It reminds me of when Sting and I did a comedic falls count anywhere match down in Georgia. At a certain point, they clearly weren't buying it. So, we just went the opposite direction. We called the audible and went with a more hardcore match that people loved. So, some nights you do that with wrestling. You have to balance your wrestling and non-wrestling material. You do the best that you can and every night is a learning experience.
WrestlingINC: You mentioned wrestling and improvising. In comedy, how often do you get to improvise?
Foley: Quite a bit. I settled into a routine where I would do two of the same stories every night. They were kind of like my go-to stories. But, I've retired them now. So, I've got to find a couple more go-to stories. That would be like my high spots in wrestling.
The rest of it, you know, you have some things you're working on. Some stories that maybe transpired in the location. Like, I hadn't told the Al Snow suplex story in ages. Then, I was in Montreal and I was like, 'Man, I haven't been in Montreal since that event took place.' I figured that that's a natural. There may be people that think it's an old story. Hey, they're wrestling stories. In some cases, the conclusions are known -- people do know how these things turn out it's just a matter of making them very interesting.
I broke out the cookie story for the first time since a college Q&A ten years ago. I reloaded for the stage and it did not work really well. It's just trying to figure out what works in the scripted atmosphere and what happens and what takes place with the interaction with the crowd. Some nights are better than others just like in the ring. But, you're always looking to do your best possible show.
WrestlingINC: Will you and Brendon Burns be performing together or is it one after the other?
Foley: Well, we're going to see how that works. When we did Montreal, Brendon went first and interacted a little bit. I liken it to the stuff Roddy Piper and I did in Chicago where we just kind of riffed off each other. Kind of like musicians jamming. So, I actually never left the stage.
Roddy came out and he did some great stories and people really enjoyed it. I think they enjoyed the kind of spontaneous stuff that came out. Brendon and I might do a little bit of that. We'll do a Q&A, these people really enjoy asking questions. I usually save them the trouble and say, 'Yeah, it did hurt when The Undertaker threw me off of the cell.'
We'll work that out and we'll see what happens. The show will I'm sure change greatly from the first night in Perth to the last night in Melbourne.
WrestlingINC: Your book, A Most Mizerable Christmas... I received a review copy and I've been reading it to my girls. I was surprised it took you this long to write another Christmas book considering it's your favorite holiday. What made you finally decide to do it?
Foley: You know, you can't just write these. I mean, I could write one but it's hard to have something published. It's really difficult, you know. I could have self-published. But, when I saw I was coming back to WWE, one of my main objectives was to do another children's book.
I had this story in mind for a long time expect I had conceived it with Mr. McMahon as the evil mayor of a town full of greed that catches wind of a kid in town who believes he has enough and doesn't need anything for Christmas and it just outrages him.
WrestlingINC: You've written non-fiction, fiction and children's books now. Do you have a preference?
Foley: Well, I mean, I've enjoyed all of them. A children's book doesn't require nearly the commitment. You get a good idea, you get inspired and you write it over the course of several days. Whereas, with the novels, you live with them for months. The memoirs are sort of all-encompassing stuff. Honestly, I think the world spoke with sales figures and told me that three memoirs was actually enough. [Laughs.]
So, I really enjoyed this one and I love that fact that, unlike the other ones, I can go into a class room and really make an impact. Anecdotally, there are kids that are actually changing their behavior after having the book read to them, which I can't say Tietam Brown or even Have A Nice Day would do to bullies.
WrestlingINC: With ten books now, do you have any more on the horizon or are you taking a break for a little bit after this one?
Foley: Well, my goal with this one is just hoping that it would do well enough so that I could do another one. I mean, I really do believe strongly in what WWE is doing with B A Star and it worked so well. The kid in the class room and the WWE Superstars and divas become really good kid's characters. Just by drawing them as children. So, I'm hoping to have a Halloween book and hopefully this will be the first in a series of many.
That's kind of how I conceived Tales From Wrescal Lane and then when it came out in 2004, it didn't fare so well. You don't do follow ups to failures. That's why you don't see any Al Snow and Mick Foley tag teams. [Laughs.] Maybe the New Rockers, but there's no New New Rockers. There's no New New Blackjacks. You don't really follow up something that doesn't really work well.