Mick Foley: From WWE Star to Stand-Up Comedian

In his career with World Wrestling Entertainment, Mick Foley has been thrown from the roof of a 16-foot-high cage, where he crashed through a broadcasting booth; hit by a steel chair, which dislocated his jaw and dislodged a tooth; nailed with a removable stairwell wielded as a weapon by his opponent; and body-slammed on a bed of thumbtacks.

These made up just another day at the office for the professional wrestler known as Mankind — one specific day at the office, in fact. All of these potentially fatal injuries befell Foley in the span of just 30 minutes, in 1998's notorious "Hell in a Cell" brawl with the Undertaker. The match's signature camera angle caught Foley's demented character smiling through bloody lips, the broken tooth dangling beneath his nose.

"One of the teeth I had knocked in half in 'Hell in a Cell' is still in half," Foley recalls. "It's taken on a bluish tint because of the damage to the roots. So while some people may claim to use a Bluetooth, I've actually got one."

These days, Foley is a more lovable, domesticated version of his in-ring persona, a masked marauder who enjoyed pain and spoke through a sock puppet. Since the mid-'00s, he's been retired from the business. "There's only so much punishment a human body can take," he says. "It's funny — In my shows, I talk about the fact that I never felt like anything I was doing was particularly crazy."

Foley's "shows" are a reference to his latest career turn: stand-up comedian/spoken-word artist. His one-man show, Tales From Wrestling Past, which he'll perform at the Miami Improv August 1, is the culmination of a storied post-WWE renaissance that has included four memoirs, a couple of coming-of-age novels, a surreal appearance on ABC's trashy-therapeutic Celebrity Wife Swap, the occasional acting gig, and now the comedy-club circuit.

"I never expected to have such a long shelf life in my postwrestling years," he says.

Even for an entertainer known for cutting, engaging wrestling promos and performing in front of millions of TV viewers, there's something naked and scary about comedy work. "I don't even try to compete with the great comics on a laugh-to-laugh basis. But when people leave my show, they are genuinely happy."

Foley promises some of his jokes will be Florida-centric. The performance will conclude with a Q&A. "One of the most important things for me is to create a nonthreatening atmosphere. They will have much more fun than they anticipated."

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John Thomason