Recently the Two Man Power Trip of Wrestling welcomed former WWF personality and nemesis of Bobby “the Brain” Heenan, John DiGiacamo FKA Jamison Winger. From his days as a feature act on Primetime Wrestling, through the short lived Bobby Heenan Show and managing the Bushwackers, Jamison’s story of how he landed in the WWF and his tenure is a great look inside one of the most successful eras in the history of the wrestling business. In this excerpt from the interview, DiGiacamo comments on how Vince McMahon discovered him while working as an actor and his chemistry with the late-great Bobby Heenan. The full episode can be downloaded at this link.
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Being discovered by Vince McMahon:
“It all happened when I was doing stand-up comedy and friends of mine started this murder mystery company like the audience participation deal where some of the scenes are scripted and some are improv and where you interact with the audience. Vince happened to come to one of the shows. I recognized him immediately and kind of played to him just to have some fun and I had him cracking up the whole night and I know that he really enjoyed himself. Part of me was like I should go introduce myself and how great would it be to work for Vince and nothing really happened in the introduction, he told me great show and he wasn’t standoff-ish but was a little bit short and he just said great show and I moved on because I am not one of those pain in the neck kind of guys but it did register with him. That Monday the WWF contacted the producers of that show asking how they could get in contact with the guy that played Jamison and they had me come in. They were looking for somebody that could really hold their own improv wise with Bobby (Heenan) because they were looking for a co-host of The Bobby Heenan Show and they had me come in in character and told me don’t break character with Bobby and play it to make Bobby think that you really are this guy. When I came in, it took him awhile to realize that I was putting him on but it worked out great and we had great exchanges and they offered me a contract that day and next thing I know we are shooting The Bobby Heenan Show.”
Relationship with Vince:
“I know that people run hot and cold on Vince. For me, the guy was nothing but genuine and really appreciated and thought I was the funniest thing going and treated me as such. He was very generous with me and I know he was getting negative feedback from some of his cronies and his right hand men like some of the old school wrestling guys who thought that this character doesn’t fit wrestling but he was very defensive of me and he always had something for me to do. As much as I know there are people out there and I witnessed some of it where he was a little hard on people, for me and to me he was a great guy and he was really generous and I have nothing bad to say about him as far as the treatment of me goes.”
Pat Patterson not being a fan of his gimmick:
“I think that Vince was under a lot of pressure from the old school and Vince was surrounding himself with a lot of his Dad’s people in those days. When I got there Vince had only had the company for maybe six or seven years and there were some guys that were match makers and basically they were writers without writing any dialogue and putting together who should fight who and like a Pat Patterson had absolutely no use for me. Pat was usually the guy that everybody went to to ask what I am doing today or what I am I doing tomorrow and Pat wouldn’t want to deal with me and say just go talk to Vince. He was not a fan. I think that with everything else that was going on at that time with the steroid scandal and the expose in Playboy magazine about all the sex stuff that I think it was when I approached Vince he would just say that he was good with this or that and I think he was taking heat from guys that worked for him. There were a number of guys but the only one I knew for sure that was just anti-Jamison was Pat and Vince just had guys working for him that thought Jamison was not meant to be in a wrestling ring.”
Chemistry with Bobby Heenan:
“I recognized early on that Bobby was kind of the star of just about every program. Whether it was the saturday show, he was the guy and the best you are going to do with Bobby was make Bobby look good. He didn’t need a lot of help because he was a funny guy and I just played to that and I played the nerd and the loser and to be a loser. Every once in a while I got him to break and gave him a good zinger and there were so many times that they’d have to cut because I cracked him up and there were plenty of times that I broke him up and we’d have to start over for the tapings.
“There were so many times that Bobby and I nailed something on the first take and we would always shoot those shows in less time than they expected because generally the first take they’d say we got it and we got what we need and we are ready to go. I’m sounding a little egotistical but you think about the character and how he is so not a physical kind of wrestling guy but he had success because Bobby liked working with me and I thought I brought out the best in Bobby a lot like Gorilla did but in a different way.”
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