On Saturday evening I went to Leicester Square Theatre to see one of my heroes, the wrestling legend that is Mick Foley.
If you’ve never read his autobiography, then you should. I would go so far to say that it is my favourite book of all time, but I can’t claim to have read too many books. Reading about what he had to go through to make it is certainly something I consider an inspiration when I’m either dying on my arse or travelling many miles to perform to three people – more on that later – and I suppose the Foley comedy persona is an influence to my own style on stage.
There are certain parallels between professional wrestling and comedy. Both involve you playing an exaggerated version of yourself to elicit a response from the audience; you’re also trying to get the audience to buy into what you’re doing even if it is all largely an act. Likewise, when it all goes wrong there is nowhere to hide. I’m just glad I don’t have to put my body through so much pain, at least not the physical pain anyway. To prove how well wrestling and comedy cross over, there was the infamous wrestling event at Edinburgh this year, which was a resounding success.
I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect with Foley’s stand-up show, but he’s a naturally funny bloke and had a feeling it would be good.
When I got there, I was told that Mick was still doing a signing. I thought I had to get my picture taken with him, if only to please the 16-year-old me. I don’t believe in meeting your heroes, mostly because whenever I’ve previously met heroes of mine I’ve not known what to say and end up saying something stupid. But I couldn’t turn down this chance and thankfully the queue was moving pretty quickly, so I didn’t say much more than ‘hello’ when I gave him my ticket to sign.
Here is the picture:
Admittedly, it’s not great quality from the camera on my phone, but I’ll take it.
They were playing wrestler’s entrance themes on the PA before the show, some I’d not heard in about ten years, and there is something very funny about the heckles being mostly nostalgic wrestling references. The compere and opening act expertly played the wrestling-savvy audience and were frequently subject to these heckles. I laughed more in the first half because of this show than I’ve laughed at a comedy gig for quite some time.
Mick was on in the second half and I enjoyed his set. His stand-up inexperience was a slightly evident, but he did mention drinking a large amount of vodka before he arrived on stage, so this may have affected his performance. Even so, for all the damage he’s done to his body over the years for no other reason but to entertain, he can do whatever he wants. He is coming back in February and I will see him then too.
I had a gig of my own on Friday. If I wanted to, I could view my trip down to the south coast as a waste of time. I’m choosing not to, though, because though largely turning my back on a normal life I have learnt to ignore the rational part of my brain which questions why I do this strange comedy activity. There was an average of three people in the audience, but it was sort of enjoyable in a really weird kind of way. This is where the Mick Foley autobiography inspiration comes in handy. After the gig, I managed to get a lift back to London afterwards so I saved myself an hour of travelling time, which I then wasted on the internet when I got back to my house.