You never know what to expect from a Mick Foley performance, whether in the squared circle or, in this case, a stand-up comedy routine earlier this month at Governor’s Comedy Club in Levittown.
The dichotomy of someone telling jokes to raise money for sexual assault victims would be awkward for most. But for Long Island native and three-time WWE champ Foley, 46 -- who over the years has gained as much attention for keeping a “Christmas room” in his house all year long as for bleeding in a “King of the Death Match” in Japan -- straddling serious and sublime is second nature.
Five minutes into his set at Governor’s, part of a journey toward success as a stand-up comic that began nearly three years ago but just heated up again the past few months, he’s tugging at the crowd’s heartstrings. He tells a story of a young boy who came up to his car, claiming to be a victim of physical abuse. The lad desperately wants to go live with perennial wrestling foil Al Snow.
“Why?” Mick says he asked.
“Because Al Snow never beats anybody!”
Foley’s been doing stand-up performances to get practice while collecting funds for RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network). The man who made his legend partially via the “cheap pop” -- enthusiastically reciting the name of whatever city he happened to be in on the mic -- can always dig into his past to appease wrestling aficionados in the audience.
But the crowd in Levittown seemed a bit less wrestling-centric than the folks Foley performed for in August at The Brokerage in Bellmore. Foley’s attempt in Levittown to draw laughs talking about how the wrestling biz worked around “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka’s cocaine use -- the short-notice battle royale after a “Not tonight, brutha” and a quick exit from Snuka -- seemed more the content of an RF Video shoot interview than a stand-up routine.
"It’s a delicate balancing act,” Foley told Newsday, adding that he felt the Snuka bit could translate to everyone. “I find I can talk about other material as long as I use wrestling as a springboard. It’s one of those things I need to work on.”
Foley has been working with friend and stand-up veteran Judah Friedlander (Frank from NBC’s “30 Rock”), going to New York City clubs to do short sets for fans who mostly know nothing about wrestling. And truthfully, some of his best work tends to come when he’s completely detached from his past profession.
Foley and college pal Kevin McLaren -- the latter on guitar -- drew the biggest Levittown laughs pondering the difficulty of penning “Sweet Home Alabama” had Lynyrd Skynyrd known what a dump Alabama really was.
Foley, channeling Ronnie Van Zant: “I’ve got it. ‘Sweet Home Alabama/Our educational system’s up to 48th from 49th!’”
Says Foley, “It’s a certainly a great training ground even if I end up doing something else.”
That something else may be a more permanent return to his old stomping grounds. Foley has long said he expected to be back in some role with WWE since being released from TNA Wrestling earlier this year. Now he has been advertised for "Monday Night Raw" on Nov. 14, just as the show may be looking for a new general manager to replace John Laurinaitis (whose on-air style could best be described as Frankenstein’s stunt double).
When asked if his current interests would keep him from traveling every week for TV, Foley answered, “No, it wouldn’t be off the table at at all. Working a couple of days a week compared to all week is not problematic. Would not be a deal breaker at all.
“That’s assuming I get that phone call,” he added. I‘m sure there’s a lot of people on that list. I might have to scale back on some things, but that would be OK.”
Above: Mick Foley, right, hangs out with "30 Rock" star Judah Friedlander after the pair performed in August at The Brokerage in Bellmore. Check out Foley on stage talking about his meeting with Tiger Woods here.