You know that guy in high school who fit into some neat stereotype and then threw you a curveball by doing something unexpected that seemed to contradict your perception? The opera-loving hippie. The encyclopedia-reading right tackle. Mick Foley was kind of that last guy.
"Yeah, I guess there were aspects of that for me," he says with a laugh. "I always had that quest to find out more. I was also that guy who always wanted to entertain."
Foley, the former professional wrestler turned best-selling author turned actor turned spoken-word presenter turned stand-up comic, will appear at The Comedy Catch on Wednesday night, July 16, for one show only.
IF YOU GO
■ What: Comedian Mick Foley.
■ When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 16.
■ Where: The Comedy Catch, 3224 Brainerd Road.
■ Admission: $25.
■ Phone: 423-622-2233.
■ Website: www.TheComedyCatch.com.
MICK FOLEY’S TV RESUMÉ
■ Actor: “30 Rock,” “Warren the Ape,” “Now and Again,” “G vs. E,” “Boy Meets World” and the documentary “Beyond the Mat.”
■ Voice work: “Squidbillies,” “Celebrity Death Match” and “Avatar: the Last Airbender.”
■ Guest: “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” “Late Night With Conan O’Brien,” “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire,” “Good Morning, America,” “Family Feud,” “Redeye,” “Larry King Live” and “Today.”
Foley aspired to be a pro wrestler after seeing Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka flying through the air in 1983.
The writing came about after a college newspaper editor liked a paper Foley wrote so much he suggested he could make a living writing. The idea was completely foreign to him at the time.
"But you take the love of telling stories, which is essentially what we do in the ring, and you create the same emotions on the page. It's certainly more fun and instantaneous onstage or in the ring, but I like it."
It's also safer.
Foley was a superstar in WWE, where he was known as Mankind, a creepy, otherworldly character he says was inspired by Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" and the music of Tori Amos. His other nickname was "The Hardcore Legend," which he earned by being able to absorb an intense amount of physical abuse.
It came at a price, however. He lost an ear in 1994. In 1998, in an epic battle called "Hell in a Cell" with The Undertaker, Foley sustained a concussion after falling from the top of a 16-foot steel cage onto the ring. Despite the concussion, and a tooth lodged in his nose, he finished the match.
Seeing retirement looming, he began writing his memoir, by hand. "Have a Nice Day" surprised a lot of people by hitting No. 1 on The New York Times best-seller list in 1999. It stayed on the list for 26 weeks. Foley has since written 10 books: four memoirs, four children's titles and two novels.
Early on, he resented being known as the wrestler who did comedy, but after realizing there are hundreds of funny people working the circuit, he embraced it.
"It was not OK with me for awhile," he says. "I prided myself on how much nonwrestling material I could do."
His shows contain some stories about his career, but that's not all. He loves seeing the faces of patrons who discover he's more than just a guy who used to wrestle.
"I usually see it about the 10-minute mark, and I love it," he says. "You see this look of utter relief that they are actually having a good time.
"The basic themes of the shows are about me wondering how in the world I managed to reach the point I did and strike fear into America's youth without have any real physical skills," he says.
Another Foley project is "I Am Santa Claus," a documentary by Tommy Avallone. It follows six men, including Foley, who work as Santas during the holidays and gives some background on them as people and what they do the rest of the year.
Contact Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6354.
Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...