In the 1980s, World Wrestling Entertainment wrestler Jim Duggan was known as “Hacksaw,” a man who would come into the wrestling ring with an American flag in one hand and a wooden board in the other.
After a 36-year wrestling career, Duggan has now added stand-up comedy to his career. On Wednesday night, he did a stand-up routine at Bloomington pub Bear’s Place.
However, unlike popular comedy routines, Duggan said his act consists of personal wrestling stories rather than standard pre-written jokes.
“I typically say to fans that if they came here for knock-knock jokes, then they can get out,” Duggan said.
Every Monday night, Bear’s puts on open-mic comedy nights, host Kurt Messick said. The event has featured several popular comedians, such as Ellen DeGeneres.
“This used to be the place where you would go before you became famous,” Messick said.
Duggan began the show with the story of how his professional wrestling career began.
Even while in college, Duggan was always athletic, he said. When he was a student at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, he played on the football team. Eventually, he lost interest in playing football and decided to seek a wrestling career instead, he said.
Before he joined WWE and settled with the name “Hacksaw,” Duggan said he was known as “Big Jim Duggan” and “The Convict.”
Duggan said he believes both the industry and the style of WWE has changed significantly since his prime in the 1980s. He said it is more focused on putting on a performance than in the past. He also believes the industry is more family-friendly than before, since it has become less violent than when he was performing.
Throughout his career, Duggan has faced many difficulties, including battling kidney cancer and multiple injuries sustained in college. Messick said these difficulties improved the story-telling aspect of Duggan’s comedy performance.
“He’s overcome a lot of adversaries, and I think that’s what makes him so unique on stage,” Messick said.
Various age groups were represented in the audience at Bear’s during Duggan’s performance. Duggan said it is because of WWE initiatives like the WWE Network that has led to such diversity.
“The WWE Network has brought forth a whole new generation of fans,” Duggan said.
Logan Scott Hendry, a local comedian who was one of the openers for Duggan, was one of these fans. He said he grew up with his stepfather having a poster of Duggan on the wall and thus grew up as a fan of both the wrestler and WWE.
Once Hendry was told about the opportunity to open for Duggan, he said he almost immediately took it.
“He’s one of the kindest men, and I think he’s going to be a great storyteller,” Hendry said before the show.
Following the show, Duggan participated in a question-and-answer session with attendees, where he discussed his life and career more in-depth. Duggan said he considers this one of his favorite aspects of the show.
Duggan said he believes professional wrestlers, especially those that are part of WWE, have a poor reputation because of the sensationalism attached to the performance. Duggan said he hopes his comedy acts will be able to clear up some of these stereotypes and broaden people’s minds about the sport.
“It’s a unique night out for people to get a whole new perspective of wrestling that most people don’t see,” Duggan said.