To-do List: Mick Foley and Brian Regan
Jr.'s Last Laugh and Warner Theatre are places to go on Alex Bieler's To-do List
I would be a liar if I said I wasn't a wrestling fan when I was younger. The '90s were a simpler time for the smaller version of me back then, with choke slams, clotheslines, and cage matches largely on my mind instead of world news and music.
While I eventually grew out of my wrestling phase, all these years later the little pugilist inside of me squeals a bit when I think that Mick Foley will be coming to JR's Last Laugh Thursday, Jan. 9. The Hardcore Legend himself will be performing two shows, one at 6:30 p.m. and the other at 9:30 – although don't expect him to be the next Mitch Hedberg and start spouting short, surreal jokes when he takes the comedy club stage, as Foley has a different way to make people laugh.
"It's definitely storytelling," Foley says of his upcoming show. "I know the phrase 'stand-up comedy' can scare off wrestling fans, so I assure them that there are stories about wrestling and not me telling one-liners. With that being said, when other comics see the show, they understand that storytelling is a form of stand-up. I do it with stories and not jokes."
The man behind the personas Mankind, Cactus Jack, and Dude Love – not to mention one of the most violent sock puppets around, Mr. Socko – Foley has plenty of tales from his wrestling days, all the way back from when he used to frequent The Flagship City early on in his career.
"Not only have I wrestled in Erie, but I went to school in Cortland, N.Y. and trained in Pittsburgh, so one of the routes I would take would go through Erie," Foley explains over the phone. "I was able to use my Cortland membership at the Erie YMCA and found out why you don't drive on I-90 in the middle of a snow squall."
Foley has come a long way since those long drives, as he's been busy since his wrestling career has come to a close. Even before he left the ring potentially for good in recent years (he won't completely rule out a comeback, although according to him, it's not likely), Foley wrote his first memoir Have a Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks back in 1999, which started a string of other memoirs, children's fiction, and contemporary fiction. Eventually Foley saw that perhaps performing on a stage wasn't so different than wrestling in a ring.
"The transition [out of wrestling] for me was easier because I had these other creative outlets, like doing these shows," Foley says. "I feel very much like I used to in the ring without the aches and pains that come with it."
Now the only hurting he's looking to dish out would be to your funny bone with his tales from the mat. Wrestling fan or not, Mick Foley is coming to town for a pair of stage matches you won't want to miss.
Brian Regan, certified public accountant. That title may sound a bit odd for fans of the comedian, but it's something Regan nearly became after attending Heidelberg College. Luckily, he traded in number crunching for a microphone.
Regan will return to the Warner Theatre Friday, Jan. 10 for a night of his trademark observational humor, and Casey Wells, executive director of Erie County Convention Center Authority, is pleased by the comedian's first show back since 2012.
"He wanted to come back to Erie and we're thrilled to have him back," Wells says, noting in particular Regan's aversion to off-color humor that may offend those that shy away from the profane. "I find him refreshingly funny. His type of humor is enjoyable to a large cross-section of people."
David Letterman, for one, is a fan, as Regan has appeared on The Late Show a whopping 28 times since 1995, more than any other comedian. He's also had the privilege of having two one-hour Comedy central specials, with his hit special The Epitome of Hyperbole airing in 2007, and appeared on the wonderful web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee with Jerry Seinfeld in 2012.
Now, Regan's heading back to Erie to dole out plenty of laughs at the Warner for a crowd that's sure to be glad he's not preparing for tax season this January.
Alex Bieler can be contacted at aBieler@ErieReader.com, and you can follow him on Twitter @Catch20Q.