Michael PS Hayes is perhaps my favorite wrestling philosopher. He's also the last remaining man in America rocking a fanny pack, but that's a different story for a different time. Suffice to say that Hayes knows his stuff when it comes to the world of sports-entertainment. One of my favorite Hayes tales is that of a much-loved steak-house. Brother, people travelled great distances to get to that steakhouse, which featured some of the best damn steaks known to mankind (people as a whole, not the wrestler). Eventually, the steak-house began adding other selections to its menu - chicken, pasta, a variety of vegetables. The steak-house patrons raved about these new selections, saying things like "wow, have you tried the chicken at that steak-house? It's incredible!" The new items were so popular that the steak-house decided they could do without having steak on the menu at all...at which point, people stopped going to the steak-house at all.
Up until this past week in Montreal, I'd become so convinced that my chicken, pasta and vegetables were so good that I was thinking of removing steak from my comedy menu altogether. Thank goodness I came to my senses - with more than a little assistance from Australian comic Brendon Burns. If you've got a gimmick, work it. Just seeing such a vast list of comedians under one roof, most of them with many years of comedy experience, made me realize how fortunate I was to have a specialty item that set me apart; a way of attracting people into my particular establishment when there were so many others to choose from.
I saw literally dozens of comedians perform while I was in Montreal - all of them good, some of them great; masters of timing and one liners. But it's darn hard to create a fanbase for the vast majority of these comedians - a way of creating name-face recognition. As evidence, I'm hard-pressed to remember the names of all but a few of the comics I saw. Sure, some of the biggest stars in the comedy world were there - people with rockstar-like followings. But they had to work damn hard to get to that status - with most of them honing their craft in tiny clubs for little money, before eventually getting that name-face recognition thing going.
I got to see Amy Schumer, a comic who is right on the brink of beoming huge, and her material had me laughing out loud for a complete hour. If you get a chance to see her - do it! Follow her @AmySchumer as well. She's great..and she even tells a wrestling story, which her audience ate up. But that wrestling story is like one of those cool vegetables on Ms Schumer's much larger plate. Something tells me that an entire hour of"Schumer Talks Wrestling" would derail that promising career in a hurry.
Likewise, I can venture out of wrestling territory once in a while, as long as I don't stay away too long. As long as I remember that it's the steak, and not the chicken, the pasta or the vegetables that people are coming to dine on. I can talk current events, politics, Tori Amos, even porn, but an entire hour of "Foley Talks Boners" is not likely to be anyone's idea of a great night out.
I felt really good about the word of mouth and the reviews that Brendon Burns and I received for our shows in Montreal. I was relieved that a venerable comedy source like UK's Chortle enjoyed the show and treated it with respect. As Chortle reviewer Steve Bennett pointed out, that "it's not alienating for the rest of us." So if you're a wrestling fan, by all means, feel free to bring a brave and adventurous loved one to one of my shows. They'll have a good time. They'll enjoy all the side dishes, and they'll find the atmosphere to be warm and welcoming. But Montreal taught me that my shows aren't actually FOR them. They are FOR you, the wrestling fan.
I used to think that the mark of a good comic was having the ability to come up with new material for almost every show. I'd even go out of my way to make sure that the early and late shows in a particular venue (like London's Leicester Square Theatre) were completely different. You know who ended up benefitting from that decision? The three people who attended both shows. You know who that decision ended up hurting? The other 397 people in the audience. I'm going to stop worrying about what percentage of meterial is new, and which stories are already in print. Some stories take on entirely new life on stage. For example, the DDP cookie story, from 1999's "have a Nice Day" seems to be screaming out for a live re-telling. And with DDP himself in the crowd at the upcoming "Post-SummerSlam Jam" (August 19) the stage of The Hollywood Improv might just be the perfect place that dust off that old gem.
My experience in Montreal at the Just for Laughs festival taught me exactly who I was and what I do, just in the nick of time. I'm a wrestler who tells wrestling stories for wrestling fans. I do occasionally serve chicken, pasta and a variety of vegetables that I believe you will enjoy. I still believe I can make points about the world-at-large through lessons I've learned in 27 years in the wrestling business. But I will try to never forget that almost all of you are coming for the steak.
Catch me at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland from August 8-11, at the Post-SummerSlam Jam on August 19 in Hollywood, CA, or in Sioux Falls, SD on September 7 & 8. You can get tickets and information for these and all my upcoming shows at http://realmickfoley.com by clicking on EVENTS.
I am now represented by Joe Eshenbaugh at Innovative Artists. If anyone out there is looking to book a certain Hardcore Legend for comedy events, acting opportunities, voice-work, etc., please contact Joe at http://www.innovativecomedy.com/
I continue to be managed by the team of Braverman & Bloom , and continue to work for WWE.