Spend Mother’s Day with WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley, who brings his unique brand of comedy and story-telling to the Fort Lauderdale Improv.
“It’s the perfect way to show love for one’s mother,” the budding comic said. “I believe Mr. T is actually bringing his mother.”
That’s the type of humor fans can expect from the best-selling author during his South Florida return on Sunday, May 11.
“The first show [last August] we had a great time,” Foley said. “It’s such a beautiful club, right in the middle of a great location. The [Seminole] Hard Rock location is unbelievable. I enjoyed it.”
The hardcore legend known for his physical battles inside a pro wrestling ring retired from regular competition and decided to turn his attention to a stage of a different kind. His unique experiences over the course of 30 years provide a plethora of material for his act.
“I try to make it a completely different show,” Foley said. “I may try to throw in one mainstay just to have my version of my greatest hits. Other than that I would work on different themes and stories, so people won’t be watching something they’ve already seen. The last show was a big success in they left happy and with a smile on their faces. That’s the way I see this going down as well.”
Foley doesn’t necessarily put an age demographic on his material.
“It’s not a shocking show, not extreme,” he said. “I try to curse once in an hour and 20 minutes. Considering that DDP [Diamond Dallas Page] uses three F-bombs to describe the birth of a fuzzy puppy, dropping one for dramatic emphasis is not so bad.
“I try to create a nice, warm atmosphere that is open to non-fans, especially female fans. Some of the stories deal with grizzly injuries. Without that warm atmosphere, I don’t think I would enjoy creating a show based solely on blood and guts.”
Given his background, it’s natural to see the majority of those who come to his shows are the same members of the WWE Universe who watch “Raw” every Monday. However, Foley does draw appeal to non-fans as well.
“I think a pivotal moment there will be if or when I get a television special so people can take a real look at what I do,” he said. “It will probably take years to build a non-wrestling fanbase.”
Just like any form of entertainment, the world of live comedy and story-telling takes hard work. Foley remains humble, willing to put in the time to fine-tune his skills.
“I think it’s like anything else,” he said. “It’s a muscle memory process. It’s the same reason a pitcher with a lot of talent is kept in the minor leagues. In my case the more I do it the better I get, even if they are not the same stories and experiences. You learn to adapt to any situation and create different shows that audiences seem to be buying.
“You build it up to entertain on a higher level as you go along. As long as the enthusiasm is still there, because there have been some who do this for 20 years, and they look like they are phoning it in. I can guarantee you I will not be phoning it in there, right there in Fort Lauderdale.”
Looking at Foley’s success, others have also tried their hand at comedy and spoken word tours. WWE superstar Dolph Ziggler took the stage a time or two. Respected veterans of the industry such as Jim Ross and Jim Cornette found demand for their shows.
Foley said: “Dolph is an interesting case because he is huge into stand-up comedy, so he wants to become a stand-up comedian, where as J.R. and Jim Cornette are telling tales from their wrestling days. Everyone has a unique set of stories.
“Jim Ross is a guy who does his homework. Jim Cornette is just a phenomenal story-teller who could really thrive in a Q&A atmosphere. It’s going to become a pretty crowded field in the next few years I think, as people see there is an audience for this. I don’t know if many people are going to be willing to put the work into it.
“I don’t think there are going to be many guys like me and Dolph who show up on an off night unannounced to put in 10 minutes in front of 12 people. You really pay your dues the old fashioned way. I think once a few of these guys go out there and find out how painful bombing can be that some of these guys time on stage will be short-lived. But if they love it and work on it, they could gain an audience.”
Foley appears on WWE programming when his schedule allows, but that doesn’t mean his relationship with the company is without its bumps in the road.
“I’ve accepted that WWE is too busy with their network to send someone out to check it out,” he said. “To me, it seems like a simple sidestep to a new form of entertainment. For whatever reason, I don’t think it’s going to happen. It makes perfect sense, but the less said about it the better. I’m tired of waiting for them to find out it’s a perfect marriage. I can’t make them and continue to do my own thing. I’ll continue to pursue my own [televised] special.”
The superstar alum does enjoy the WWE Network.
“I need to see some of those shows on there. I’ve been on the road, so I haven’t had that much time to catch up,” Foley said. “I love what I’ve seen. I think it gives guys like me a chance to connect with a whole new audience. I think it is well ahead of its time. Maybe when the dust settles they will say, ‘Hey, Maybe we do need that Mick Foley special?’ The frustrating thing is once people see the show, they get and it far exceeds their expectations. WWE Network would be a perfect place to air the show to the exact audience who would enjoy seeing it. It’s frustrating that it hasn’t happened.”
The former WWE champion also voiced his displeasure for the company’s creative decisions a few months ago. His opinions have since leaned more positive.
“I expressed that frustration, and they ended up going into the direction I hoped they would,” Foley said. “So you won’t see me complaining about their direction any time soon. It’s a bullet I can only fire once in a great while. I watch the show and enjoyed it, as I usually do… I think the future looks really bright. There are a lot of great stars. It’s hard to focus on all of them. The talent pool has so greatly changed over the last few years. They have done a tremendous job of using their legendary figures in supporting roles and kind of allowing the superstars of the past few years to usher in the superstars we see today.”
He hopes WWE will cooperate with “I Am Santa Claus,” a documentary that has become a passion project. The movie was funded in part by Kickstarter with Foley a producer.
“I want to have their footage in it without charging a price that makes that impossible,” he said. “We are looking at November [for release], with a big announcement regarding the film in the next few weeks. We want to have it out in some way, whether it’s Netflix or a possible small theatrical run. It’s a really good movie. It’s something I’m glad I pursued. My official role as a subject was over December 2, 2012 and here it is a year-and-a-half later. I’m showing up for late night editing sessions and try to make the movie as good as it can be for when it’s seen to the public.
“Everything attracts me when it comes to the story-telling, whether it’s in the ring with the physicality, the emotion and facial expressions or on stage. Once I got involved with this. It reminded me of what I loved when I was a college student with the emphasis on TV production.”
• See the “Mick Foley 2014 World Tour” 7 p.m. Sunday, May 11 at the Fort Lauderdale Improv at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, 5700 Seminole Way near Hollywood in South Florida.
For information and tickets, visit http://improvftl.com/event.cfm?id=313797&cart .
• Follow Foley on Twitter @RealMickFoley.
• Follow me on Twitter @smFISHMAN.