“Growing up, I had, like, one friend who was a wrestling fan,” says comedian and promoter Chris Brooker. “Then as soon as I got into comedy, it was like a dating service – ‘Have you met this guy? He likes wrestling too!'”
Brooker and Billy Kirkwood debut their show ‘I Am The Tag-Team Champions’ at Edinburgh this weekend. He describes it as a “love-letter to professional wrestling”; after a lengthy discussion about how they could make a show about wrestling appeal to a wider audience, they decided not to bother, and instead opted to make a show just for people who like wrestling.
The poster for the show is stylised artwork of several sets of tag-team champions, plus Brooker and Kirkwood. How on earth did they decide who to include and who to omit?
“We had a list we sent back and forth,” he says. “Some were no-brainers – the Legion of Doom, the Hardy Boyz, and Kane and Daniel Bryan, of course. Then as soon as we showed people in, they’d complain about who wasn’t on it. We could have made it twice the size and people would still have been like, ‘But where are David Otunga and Michael McGillicutty?'”
There’ll also be special guests, including Mark Dallas and Chris Renfrew from Insane Championship Wrestling, and Colt Cabana, who’s been in Edinburgh this summer doing his own Fringe show with Brendon Burns. ‘The Wrestling’ has also been on the schedules this August, and Mick Foley played there last year.
“The floodgates are open now,” Brooker agrees. “There are more of us – wrestling fans – about than you think. I mean, when Mick McManus died, my dad said to me, ‘Oh, that’s sad, I remember seeing him in a show in London years ago” – he’d literally never mentioned it to me before.”
Mad Man Manson said earlier in the year that he sees himself as a comedian who wrestles, and just opts to use wrestling as the medium to tell his jokes. What does Brooker think about the link between comedy and wrestling?
“I think they’re the closest cousins in terms of entertainment,” he says. “You need a persona, you need your material, and you need to connect with your audience. You can be the best athlete or have the best jokes, but if you can’t get them to care about you, you’re dead.”
One of the British wrestling stars who’s had impressive career longevity because of his connection with the fans has been William Regal, and Brooker reveals exclusively that after RAW in Manchester, on Monday November 11th, there’ll be the second-ever ‘Audience With A Wrestling Villain’.
After that, Brooker and Kirkwood plan to take their show out on the road – so watch this space…
‘I Am The Tag-Team Champions’ plays Studio 24 on Saturday August 24th at 7.30pm.
‘William Regal: Audience With A Wrestling Villain’ plays the Frog and Bucket, Oldham Street, Manchester, on Monday November 11th at 11pm. Tickets on sale soon.