BALTIMORE - Mick Foley spent decades getting hit with steel chairs, tied up in barbed wire and diving 15 feet off of steel cages -- all in an effort to send his fans home happy.
Foley , 48, garnered the moniker of a “hardcore legend” during his many years traveling the world as a professional wrestler. He eventually became one of the most well-known and respected wrestlers in the business and last year was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
It wasn’t until many years into his career that he learned he could entertain fans without putting his body – and possibly his life – on the line.
Through the years, Foley has evolved from professional wrestler to a multi-time, best-selling author, actor and stand-up comic/performer. His latest venture, a one-man show entitled, “Tales from Wrestling Past,” is coming to Maryland when he performs at 8 p.m. April 8 at the Baltimore Comedy Factory.
“I think I’ve shown through the years in the ring I could be funny,” Foley said. “My name gave me about a 10-minute grace period where people came because they knew who I was. It was up to me to keep them there passed that."
Foley said while he felt natural performing in front of thousands of fans as a wrestler, it took time to hone his skills for his show.
“When I first started this about 4 ½ years ago, I used a lot of material that had nothing to do with wrestling. But I found it was like a classic rock group that tried to force new material down the fans’ throat when they really wanted to hear their greatest hits. I think I’ve struck that balance now where I weave wrestling and other subjects into my show.”
Foley, who was known to take a dozen chair shots in a match and even had part of his ear tore off in another, showed off his artistic side in 1999 when he released his autobiography, Have a Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks. The book reached the topped the New York Times non-fiction best seller list for several weeks and started a trend of wrestlers releasing books.
In the years since, Foley wrote three more autobiographical books, four children’s fiction books and two fictional novels. The married father of four also went on to be very active in charitable causes, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Foley said all of those outside endeavors have kept him busy and his life fulfilled. He is also enjoying the challenge of honing his stand-up skills.
“I don’t necessarily consider myself a comic,” Foley said. “My act is really more of me speaking in a one-man show. Plus the chance to interact with the fans at an up close level has been amazing.
“But, getting up on stage alone and trying out new material can be a lonely and painful experience. As long as I’m getting a few dozen people out for each show, I’m happy.”
As for wrestling, Foley still makes occasional appearances with the WWE. He said he enjoys his current role with the company and doesn’t miss being an active wrestler.
“What I do now is perfect,” Foley said. “I get to go out to the ring and get the reaction from the crowd. I’m still part of the wrestling world and get to meet up with all the WWE superstars and divas. Then, I get to do these one-man shows and get the same feeling entertaining fans without having to hurt myself in the process.”