Danny Jolles is a comedian and actor who appreciates the art that is professional wrestling. The star, who recurred on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, saw his love for this unique form of entertainment dig deeper while attending his first-ever event. It was Starrcade 1997 from the MCI Center in Washington D.C.
“I got very into WCW,” he said, recalling a childhood memory. “If you asked me at the time, I’d say [the event] went flawlessly. It was so great. Then later on in life I’m like, ‘I was at a famous mess up. A real botch of a situation. And I remember Kevin Nash no-showed. But you also see how good they are at playing it off. I remember Scott Hall being most impressive as a kid. I remember he was so big and taking bumps like crazy. It was so cool. Once you see wrestling live it transforms your love for it. From that point on I was hooked.”
As a Jewish teen living in Virginia, seeing Bill Goldberg win the WCW championship from Hollywood Hulk Hogan was a big deal. A win not only for a new face shot to superstardom, but a win for representation.
“It means a lot. Particularly in sports,” Jolles said. “Us Jews have had a slight struggle. We don’t tend to dominate in that world. We got our Wikipedia list, and it’s there. You have your Sandy Koufax’s on board. I grew up in Virginia in an area without any Jews. Usually, Jews tend to live around each other. I was one of maybe five in my entire school. So it really meant a lot to me.”
His fandom admittedly tapered off as priorities shifted entering the New York University Tisch School of the Arts. Jolles interest came back thanks to the likes of Daniel Bryan, CM Punk and now the emergence of All Elite Wrestling. The buzzy company even took him full circle bringing in a WCW favorite in Sting.
“Sting was one of the best baby faces of all-time. We were all rooting for him, and did so little to earn [the adulation,” Jolles, recalling the birth of the “Crow” character that saw him mostly sit in the rafters for more than a year. “It was pure defiance and brought us all in. The way they did [his intro] was classic AEW. To keep a secret like that in 2021 is impossible. It got a pop in my living room.”
As a musical theater guy, he also appreciated the “Dinner Debonair” segment between MJF and Chris Jericho from Dynamite, as well as Orange Cassidy. When watching WWE, he likes the outside the box weirdness The Fiend character brings to the table. Pro wrestling was also the catalyst that sparked the friendship between him and fellow Crazy Ex-Girlfriend alum Skylar Astin.
“We went to a Raw in which he was doing a backstage bit with Bobby Lashley, and I tagged along. It was awesome,” Jolles said. “He has become one of my best friends. During this [pandemic] time we wrote a Hanukkah movie we absolutely love and really hoping someone takes a chance on. Part of our friendship was formed because of wrestling. This love of it and us in Hollywood, there aren’t a lot of people to text about this stuff. I think I’m a big fan and can hold my own, but [Skylar] puts me to shame. He is the real deal.”
Jolles may not know the pain of taking a bump or physicality of going through a table. But he does know the grind of a traveling performer and difficulty in entertaining a crowd. This is why he respects pro wrestlers so much. He also appreciates individuals who come from that world into his. Guys like Dolph Ziggler and Mick Foley, who he is still striving to open for one day.
The comic even included a lengthy joke in his comedy special hitting 800 Pound Gorilla and YouTube on March 23 Filmed pre-pandemic, Six Parts was shot in six unique locales: gym, barbershop, art gallery, surf shop, recording studio and comedy club. Each venue brought its unique set of challenges. He likened it to how you can set up a wrestling ring pretty much anywhere theoretically. All Jolles needed was a mic, a stage and people to make laugh.
“There is a five-minute chunk on professional wrestling and my love of it. Literally yelling at a crowd basically telling them they need to appreciate professional wrestling,” he said. “I cut a promo. I stand by this point that anybody tells me who would have thought The Rock was a good actor. Do you know how much easier acting is for him compared to what that guy used to do? Do you know what an incredible step down in difficulty it is for him to just act. It’s unbelievable.
“People don’t appreciate how hard a wrestler’s job is. Watching Randy Orton get in this fight with Soulja Boy. I’m hoping this is the joke we can pass around. There are no better actors on the planet. Nobody does as hard a job [in entertainment] as these guys. Soulja Boy, you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Check out everything Danny Jolles on his website. You can find the full audio and video from Danny’s interview below. Six Parts, his new hour comedy special is out on 800 Pound Gorilla, up on YouTube and everywhere comedy is streamed or sold, on March 23.