Former pro wrestler Mick Foley was always a fan of stand-up comedy. “I loved sitting around my cousin’s turntable and listening to George Carlin’s Class Clown,” he recalls, “and thinking it was the funniest thing I ever heard. And obviously these were words I shouldn’t have been listening to at 7 or 8 years-old.”
Carlin, along with Steve Martin, would eventually influence his pro wrestling career. The comedy though didn’t show itself in his wrestling character until 1998, when the sport started taking its toll on his body. “I realized that I had to find other ways to connect with the audience, and that’s when the character started to lighten up and started getting laughs.”
In 1999, ReganBooks (later absorbed by Harper-Collins) approached him about writing a book. The publisher originally paired him with a ghostwriter, but after reading a few chapters, Foley felt he could do a better job telling his stories. “Once other wrestlers saw me doing it, they followed suit,” he says.
The success of his books, all New York Times best sellers, gave him the confidence to tell those stories on stage. “I thought, ‘Why not take them from the page to the stage?’”
The latest incarnation of that is his current live show Hardcore Legend: An Evening With Mick Foley. “My shows don’t attack anyone,” he says. “It’s not angry. Everyone, including non-wrestling fans, can enjoy it and that’s something I take pride in.”