By Ted Gruber, @tedgruber
5:32 PM CDT, August 6, 2013
Here comes Mankind, ready to break you in half with his – one liners?
Wrestler Mick Foley is performing in Chicago tomorrow not in the guise of his pro wrestler persona, but trying out his stand-up comedy skills at Zanies in Rosemont. The man of many names – including Cactus Jack, Dude Love and of course, Mankind – chatted with RedEye about his new gig.
Do you have any memories of wrestling in Chicago from your time in the WWE?
Ah yeah. My last great WrestleMania memory was at the Rosemont Horizon. ... In 2006, Edge and I had a match there that the WWE fans voted as the best of the year. It's just one of the many memories I had for Chicago. I remember Chicago being one of the best places for the WWE to come and business has always been strong. I hope it continues over to my show on Thursday.
I think certain cities just carry that wrestling tradition over. Different places just bring that wrestling passion other cities can't. Chicago is definitely king of the Midwest because the crowds are always into it and really support the wrestling community.
Since transitioning to comedy, what's been more difficult for you: Developing a stand-up routine on your own or delivering words someone else came up with on cue?
There's a big difference between the two. Once I did a promo it was kind of done. Then it would live on people's minds, DVDs and later YouTube. I would not try to go back to the same territory. When you come up with an idea on stage, you learn to work on it and perfect it until it's as good as it possibly could be. It's a little bit different but I enjoy both of them equally. It's gratifying to know that you will get a quick response from either type of audience.
It seems like wrestling fans have issues letting go of the past. People want it to be the Attitude Era again, or for it to be 1989 in NWA again, or something else. Do you think pro wrestling has a problem with focusing on the future?
I think that's just it. There is a very vocal minority that does the complaining, but I can almost guarantee that the people complaining are also still watching. They moan that it wasn't what it was for their childhood. I loved being a part of the Attitude Era; it was a very special time. But with the show being PG it forces people to be creative and avoid swearing.
With my show that is an hour and twenty minutes, I only use one f-bomb. By doing that it forces me to think a little bit more. Sure the f-word is more effective with threats of bodily harm but the creative ideas flourish in a PG rating.
The TV-14 rating is still discussed as something the WWE could possibly go back to. Do you think the PG rating was the right decision by the company?
I really do. With the TV-14 there were a lot of sponsors the WWE couldn't bring in because of the rating. I think it was frustrating when they were doing gigantic ratings and couldn't draw the sponsors during the Attitude Era. They did great business during a horrible economic time and continue to draw adults to bring their children to watch the product.
Who was/is the funniest wrestler you know?
Well some of the funniest guys backstage couldn't translate that humor to the ring. There's a fine line that guys use their humor for their character and guys that use their humor to define their character. I think every guy who has been successful has used humor to build their career.
There was one moment in Milwaukee, where basically there were five guys in the Main Event match that could not control their upheavals of laughter. The Rock gave me an image the night before and when it was time to deliver my promo, I couldn't get that out of my mind.
In the past you have mentioned Daniel Bryan as being one of your favorite wrestlers to watch. Do you think he can take the same spot that John Cena has currently?
He is just on fire right now. He is so much fun to watch. Right now he is the best combination wrestler since probably Edge was at his peak. Edge, at that time, was stealing the show whether he was wrestling or not. I love the fact that the two guys fighting for that top spot at SummerSlam is Daniel Bryan and CM Punk. I know Punk likes and respects Daniel but he will do his best each and every night. Stone Cold was on record saying he wanted to steal every show. He and I were good friends but we both stole the show at different times through the years. There has to be some unique marketing abilities for Daniel, and I have an idea or two I would like to pass WWE's way. He would be one of the stars of my next children's book if and when it gets published.
Over the years there have been a lot of different types of Sockos in wrestling. How many socks have you gone through?
Literally hundreds of socks. Well maybe closer to a thousand. When I first started using the sock I was using the same one each and every night. Then I started to become the not so popular person in the locker room. Out of respect for my peers, I decided to use a new, clean sock every night I wrestled. I just had to explain to the IRS why I was writing off thousands of dollars of socks each year.
Jill Thompson who is a great artist and from Chicago was at a Comic Con with amazing artwork. She sees me sitting at my table drawing faces on a sock with a sharpie and people buying them.
Fans would make some that would be "Mrs. Socko" and some that were airbrushed. I think I've taken footwear the farthest it could go in sports entertainment.
'Tales from Wrestling Past'
What: Former pro wrestler Mick Foley's one-man show.
When: 9:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: Zanies Rosemont, 5437 Park Place
Cost: $25, visit rosemont.zanies.com.
Ted Gruber is a RedEye special contributor.
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