On July 12, I got the opportunity to attend Mick Foley's stand-up comedy show in Ocala, Florida. The show, billed as "A Night of Comedy and Wrestling," was held in Dory Funk, Jr.'s Funking Conservatory. In short, if you are a fan of Foley or professional wrestling, you do not want to miss out on his show.
Foley does not go onstage (or, in this case, into the ring), do a completely rehearsed set, take a bow, and leave. Foley prides himself on this, as a local advertisement quoted Foley as saying, "You will not see somebody who has been doing the same routine for years just going through the motions. You will see someone who really enjoys it and wants to learn." His goal is not to break any new ground in mainstream comedy, as many of his quips are somewhat formulaic in the genre. However, that's not a bad thing at all. It is clear through Foley's enthusiasm that his motivation for delving into comedy is purely to entertain. His charm is the same in comedy as it has been on TV: he is decidedly down-to-earth, with a twinge of humble self-deprecation. There is no pretense; a lot of Foley's humor is in the off-the-cuff interactions with the audience, which shows that Foley is a genuinely funny person.
It is important to note that, although Foley makes an effort to make his shows accessible to those with no knowledge of the wrestling business, I imagine such people may have missed a few punchlines. Some punchlines involved wrestling personalities like Vince McMahon and The Undertaker, so in order to get the full experience, it would be wise for a non-fan to get a rudimentary understanding of the biggest personalities in the business. As Foley's set is mostly personal stories, it would also be wise to have a basic understanding of his career. For example, the first question asked was: "Did it hurt when The Undertaker threw you off the cell?" which started Foley on stories about the match itself. An interesting tidbit: Foley told us that in the iconic shot of him smiling with a mouth full of blood and a tooth sticking out of his lip, he actually wasn't intentionally smiling. He "thought it would make good TV" if he stuck his tongue through a hole in his lip.
Foley's set began with a genuine conversation with the audience and some lighthearted jokes about the small town and small venue he was performing in (the Funking Conservatory holds not much more than 75 people from what I saw, which added to the personal feel of the show). He personalized the show by doing some jokes about the former hometown hero, Tim Tebow. He then took some questions, which led to a number of funny anecdotes, most of which related to the wrestling business. Prior to any adult-themed jokes or profanity, Foley would preface by warning the children in attendance to put on their "earmuffs." That being said, Foley's performance was by no means dirty. I could count the actual uses of profanity on one hand. The closest he came to insult comedy was playfully asserting that his child was the cutest kid ever, as opposed to a child in attendance (after which, he assured the family that he was just kidding).
Foley's set went on for about an hour, and answered the questions of nearly every raised hand in the audience. One answered question fans may find interesting is Foley's choice to induct him into the WWE Hall of Fame, when that day comes. He named either Terry Funk or Jim Ross as his top picks.
After Foley's set ended, the audience was told to clear the building and wait outside. The chairs were removed and Foley sat behind a table at ringside for a meet and greet, which was included in the very reasonable $25 ticket price. On the table were various shirts and pictures available for purchase, which Foley said would increase the chance of him smiling in your picture with him. Although my friends and I were near the front of the line, it appeared as if Foley was taking his time meeting with everyone in attendance. He asked the man in front of my group about the tattoos on his arm before signing an autograph, for example. Although I highly enjoyed the act, I was even more impressed with how personable Foley is, regardless of his legendary status.
You see, I recently read Chris Jericho's first novel, in which he recounts an awkward experience meeting Ricky Steamboat, one of his idols, at an autograph signing. I had that story in my head, so I was determined to not repeat Chris' mistakes. I fared better than Chris, but was still a bit too starstruck to actually carry a real conversation with Foley. Regardless, he happily signed the copy of Countdown to Lockdown I had brought. Even though the group of friends I was with had already taken several pictures, I got a picture with him as well, which I will be proudly showing off whenever the opportunity arises. Like right now:
All in all, it was a fantastic experience that I would easily recommend to any wrestling fan, and anyone looking for a lighthearted, relatively clean night of comedy. Foley is just as down-to-earth as he seems, and, in a world of overinflated egos, it's refreshing. He has mentioned that he intends to tour throughout 2013 and would like to perform for the troops through WWE, so if you're within driving distance of one of his shows, I doubt you'll regret going. Mrs. Foley's baby boy will not disappoint.