*These entries are not a review of anyone’s comedy. Stand-up is such a subjective art form that no one person will have the same experience as another. the jokes people tell will never work for 100% of the people who hear them. I am just trying to write about what I take away form watching more experienced comedians whether I personally like their material, or not. For me personally, since I have started to do stand-up, watching both the early and late shows really help me see the “nuts and bolts” of comedy. I get to experience the magic in the first show, then see the “secret” behind the trick in the second. Still the magic is never lost on me because stand-up is such an organic art form, I still get to see how the performer handles situations that no one can predict will happen.*
Sunday 2/16/14 I got the chance to see Mick Foley at the Parlor Live in Bellevue, WA. I remember loving wrestling as a little kid, and watching it with my Dad all the time. I don’t care what side of the fence you are on when it comes to the wrestling is real or fake debate, those guys are serious athletes. To go out night, after night, after night, and putting on a high energy, physical show for small crowds or huge crowds can’t be easy! I can’t even walk a golf course without falling apart and slicing a ball into someone’s house! I have always respected people who knew what their passion is, and worked to become one of the best at it. Mick Foley, to me, is one of the best examples of that. Not only was he one of the best entertainers in professional wrestling, but he is a super smart, and great family man who gave heat, body, and soul to his family and his craft. Just read one of the best selling books he has written and I think you would come to the same conclusion.
I had a great time watching his show at The Parlor. I went to the late show and thought it was really cool that he didn’t do the same set twice. there were A LOT of fans who bought tickets to both shows. As a fan of Mick Foley, and a new comic I made sure I saw his show because he is new to stand-up himself, I wanted to see how far he has come in a short time. (so to speak anyway, I cant really gauge how much he has improved without seeing him in the very beginning obviously). I listened to a great interview / conversation on Bert Kreischer’s podcast “the Bertcast” where Mick talked about how seriously he was taking the craft of stand-up, and how difficult is has been to built his show because people can have a hard time wrapping their head around what he is doing. As a fan of his writing I immediately knew that whatever he did on stage would be unique and entertaining.
I will say this about his show, it is not a typical stand-up comedy show. It is a real story telling show with a lot of funny parts and some jokes sprinkled in to punch up the stories. I am actually a fan of story telling comedy so the thing I took away from watching Mick Foley work was his natural story telling skills.
1. Pacing the energy
Maybe part of this comes from years of filming those rants and dramatic story building wrestling videos, he was great at building the story up and I’m sure intentionally raising and lowering the energy bringing the crowd up and down with it. I know that a good stand-up will create peaks and valleys throughout their show and he did this really well. I envision Mick on stage pulling strings like a puppet master bringing the crowds emotion and excitement up and down intentionally at his digression as needed for the story. I can’t wait until I have enough material to piece it together in a way that I can experiment with creating those peaks and valleys.
2. Opening himself up to the audience.
I think the reason that Mick Foley has so many die hard fans, and there were a lot at that show, is that you can see that he is a real genuine person. while he is on stage you can see that he is giving himself to the people watching him. I cant articulate exactly what I mean or exactly how I think he was opening up to the crowd. I guess you could just feel that he was being a genuine and grateful person and sharing real emotions and experiences with us. I hope that I can do that same thing naturally as I get more comfortable on stage.
3. Crowd control
Once again the crowd control stood out to me. the crowd that came to see Mick Foley was full of huge fans, and wrestling fanatics. people who love pro wrestling, REALLY love their wrestling! and I’ve learned from seeing comedians with their own “cult” followings like Doug Stanhope, that the super fans can be the worst audience members. They can barely contain their excitement, and want the performer to know just how much they love them. Often that brings them to shout things out “in support” trying to add to the show like they are helping, and showing you how much they like them. but it NEVER helps! Mick was great at acknowledging those fans right at the top and setting a tone that they need to be seen not heard. I actually heard management say they were impressed with it too.
One last thing worth mentioning, while I was waiting to say hello and get a photo with Mick Foley I listened to him talking about a Local reference joke that he had used. He said he had thought of this joke a while ago before he ever booked a show here. and that night he pulled it out of his hat and it killed. Hearing him talking about that proved to me that he really does take the craft of stand-up seriously, and will always be improving, and evolving his show.
Check out Mick Foley’s website for his shows at:
Check out the Parlor Live for other great comedy shows too!
Thanks for reading,