Posted on March 4, 2012
The Spaceman meets Mankind aka Mick Foley
This week I met one of my heroes. A best selling author who has written 9 books, including 4 volumes of his autobiography and 2 adult novels. A man who has starred in countless TV shows and movies. A man who has raised millions upon millions for charities around the globe over the years.
A man who has held multiple world championships over the years.
A man who in 1998 was thrown over 16 foot off of the top of a steel cell and landing on, and ultimately through, the Spanish announce table. A man who has sacrificed his body for his fans and has given blood on six continents to please his fans.
A man who lost his ear for the sport he loved.
That man? Mick Foley. Aka Cactus Jack aka Dude Love aka Mankind.
Mick was touring the UK as part of his Nights in Red Flannel tour and I had the awesome fortune to secure tickets to his Sheffield gig on the 29th of February. All tickets also provided access to an exclusive meet and greet / signing / photo op session with Mick before the show.
So it was with great excitement that I found myself outside Sheffield City Hall at around half five last Wednesday. At six we were allowed into the venue to form a very orderly and politely (and definitely excitable) queue for meeting Mick. There were several hundred people there so we were told as we queued that Mick-time would have to be kept to a minimum and that we’d only be allowed one piece of memorabilia signed along with anything we cared to purchase from the merchandise stand.
Needless to say I went for the Tour Special which was very good value at £20. That contained a limited edition “Funny… BLOODY FUNNY” t-shirt, an 8×10 photograph and the tour program.
Then it was time to meet Mick. A few things struck me being this close to the Hardcore Legend. The first was he really isn’t as big or tall as he seems on TV. He just seemed like a regular really nice friendly guy. The man who wrote those awesome autobiographies was quite clearly the man in front of me. A true gentle giant.
For the photos we had to hand over our cameras to a man we thought was his minder but who would transpire to be the evenings compare, Chris Brooker.
I had to pose with Mick, wearing a genuine WWF branded Mr Socko, while he signed. By buying so much merchandise I was rather lucky in that he signed both my book and the DVD I had brought with me along with the items I had bought at the show.
I told the great man how his books had helped me through some dark times in my life. Have a Nice Day, his first book, especially was a book I’ve always turned too when life hasn’t been great. I once had to spend several weeks in hospital and I swear that story of a man chasing is dream despite all the odds was what kept me say. I told him as much and he laughed indulgently saying it wasn’t a bad toilet read after all.
After this, feeling very very starstruck, and with two hours before the show was scheduled to start proper we did the only thing possible. We went to Wetherspoons for a beer and burger meal. A Wetherspoons that seemed to cater exclusively for men in wrestling t-shirts. Which I’m guessing was in no small part to Mick being in town!
Once we were seated in a sell out Sheffield City Hall Chris Brooker, our evenings compare, came on to start proceedings. Rather expectantly his set featured a lot of wrestling based material. Where else could material at the expense of Rick Flair and WCW (“Don’t Boo! They’ve been gone a decade they can’t hear you!”) go down so well? His stories of his Wrestlemania chair, his girlfriend, and his limited edition Undertaker T-Shirt were of particular note and were exceptionally hilarious.
After that we had the evenings first warm up act Geordie comedian Steffen Peddie. A former UK wrestler who wrestled under the name of Judge Mental. Which sounds made up but I can verify that I’ve seen him wrestle several times at leisure centers using that name. He came on and gave us two options. Did we want his usual set or did we want 10 minutes of stuff of wrestling that he’d made up on the drive over. Needless to say which option the crowd picked!
So we were treated, and yes treated is most definitely the right word, into an insight into his thoughts on wrestling and some stories from his time as a wrestler. It went down a storm with the crowd although politically correct is certainly wasn’t!
Then we had on Martin Mor, a Northern Irish stand up, who looked like a hells angel crossed with Santa. Only far harder. His set had the crowd quite literally rolling in the aisles. Brilliant stuff.
Then we had a brief intermission before Chris Brooker came on to introduce the man we had all been waiting for. The crowd went wild with chants of “Foley! Foley! Foley!” And to his Mankind entrance music Mick nobley limped onto stage. Mick looked a little upset at this saying he didn’t want to come on to his wrestling music so apologized to the crowd and hid behind the curtain before returning to dressed as the Funkasaurus to the Funkasaurus’s entrance music. The crowd went wild!
Unlike the two start up acts Mick wasn’t one for quick fire gags. As anyone who has read his books with attest too Mick is nothing if not a story teller of the highest order. And we were certainly treated to some good stories that night.
We had the time Mick met the most stereotypically white sounding man he’d ever met, golfer Tiger Woods, as part of a very thought provoking piece on race and racism. We also had some political humour with Mick saying he was disappointed with President Obama for not doing a WWE style “We got Bin Laden!” promo and riding the wave of support through the next election. He said if Triple H was still bragging as the man who retired Cactus Jack years after Mick’s return to the ring we’d all understand if Obama wanted to ride the wave of support through to the next election.
In a moments from wrestling history segment we had a re-enactment of the now infamous Legend of the Penis Suplex incident that any fans of Micks second book “Foley is Good” will know well. And I have to say words on a page are well enough but having Mick tell the story while two “ring hands” enacted out (thankfully without the actually showing of an actual penis) the moment in question.
We also had stories of traveling with Jake “The Snake” Roberts and a very very funny take on Barry Manilow’s Mandy. Had you ever wondered what would’ve happened had the Mandy in question wrote a song back called Barry? I certainly hadn’t but Mick had and in fine voice we were led to a rather heartfelt (if that is the right word) sing along.
When a complaint was voiced about a small group in the crowd talking throughout Mick handled the situation deftly. After offering those in question the opportunity to leave with a full refund he then preceded to play Kurt Angle’s WWE music at them while leading the crowd into a finger pointing chant of “You Suck!” Only at a Foley gig would this have worked as a put down. And work it most certainly did.
The night ended with an all too short Q&A session as the venues entertainments license expired at midnight so the show had to end. Mick finally walked off stage to a huge standing ovation and deservedly so.
What was interesting is that before the gig I had been youtube-ing footage from his previous stand up gigs and there was no repeated material between those and what we saw live. This was a very impressive achievement so a huge well done Mick! Being sat near the comedian and compare Chris Brooker he was overheard remarking that around 95% of the material we heard was new to him too. This flies in the face of more well known comedians who perform identikit gigs night after night after night,
Not with Mick. With Mick what you see is what you get. And that is whatever happened to be going through his mind at the time.
While Mick is saying this is going to be his last stand up tour, possibly ever, if he does come back over here you can guarantee I’ll be first in the queue for more, more, MORE!!
Foley is Good? Foley is God more like!