There are plenty of wrestling fans who probably would like to see Mick Foley, hard-core wrestling icon and former WWE superstar, hoist gold above his head again.
The pain he's endured in countless brutal matchups — particularly his famous "Hell in a Cell" match versus The Undertaker — and characters he's embodied, including Cactus Jack, Dude Love and the mentally unstable Mankind, are the stuff of legend.
Fans still can see Foley put his body through extreme circumstances in a quest for a championship, just not in the way you might expect.
"I put it out there that I was going for the title one more time, and wrestling fans were clearly disappointed I was talking about fruitcake," Foley said.
The man who arguably has taken more punishment in the squared circle than anyone walking the planet will be competing in the International Fruitcake Eating Competition in Santa Claus, Ind. Needless to say, Foley's daily duties have changed.
But shoveling holiday sweets into his mouth in the spirit of friendly competition is just a one-time occurrence. When he's not writing best-selling memoirs, children's books and generally serving as a worldwide ambassador for the WWE, Foley, 48, takes the crazy stories from his nearly three decades in the wrestling business and brings them to comedy clubs across the country. He comes to Comedy Off Broadway in Lexington for a one-night stand this week.
Foley became interested in performing these types of shows after numerous college speaking engagements. When those started to dwindle, he hooked up with 30 Rock actor Judah Friedlander to hash out a comedy set and began performing onstage in 2009.
But where most comedians have to work tirelessly to come up with a seamless five- to seven-minute set to get their foot in the door at comedy clubs, Foley's problem was the opposite.
"If the phone rang and I was offered a four-minute slot on The Tonight Show, I wouldn't know what to do," Foley said. "I have thus far not been able to put an accurate label on what I do."
Foley would go on to earn critical acclaim performing at prestigious comedy festivals like Just for Laughs in Montreal and the Edinburgh Fringe Fest in Scotland. It was in Montreal that he acquired an agent to book him in clubs, but it was also where he came one step closer to finding his strengths as a comedic performer.
"I saw there were hundreds of funnier people in the same hotel," Foley said. "It was my stories that made me unique. As soon as I accepted that I was the wrestling guy, the shows almost immediately became better and more rewarding."
Generally speaking, Foley's show is centered on the more humorous parts of his wrestling career with a few other topics woven in. It's more spoken word than setup-punchline. With each performance, Foley tries to personalize the experience by touching on the physical injuries and absurd circumstances that have taken place when he's wrestled in each location.
"I try to think of occurrences that took place in particular cities to give each stop a unique show," he said. "Anyone who has read my books knows I had a unique journey, an unlikely journey. I had to keep my eyes and ears open to appreciate the surreal circumstances of people and places around me."
Foley continues to get rave reviews and positive crowd feedback when he performs, both from hard-core wrestling fans and the women who often get dragged to see the show. Foley said that even though he no longer is diving off a steel cage or getting slammed on thumbtacks, getting laughs in this intimate setting is its own thrill.
"It's so close to the way I felt when I was inside the ring, especially on nights that it's going really well, but without the bumps and bruises," Foley said. "As long as there are faces in the crowd and they are responding, I feel like I'm in the middle of Madison Square Garden."
IF YOU GO
Mick Foley, Kyle "Short Bus" Kincaid
When: 7 p.m. Dec. 4
Where: Comedy Off Broadway, The Mall at Lexington Green, 161 Lexington Green Cir.
Tickets: $25. Available at (859) 271-5653 or Comedyoffbroadway.com.
Blake Hannon is a Mount Sterling-based writer.