Jake is afraid of snakes!
Legendary pro wrestler in town for wild night of spoken word at Second City
Professional wrestler Jake “the Snake” Roberts’ life took a terrible turn as his career spiralled out of control as a result of substance abuse. His dramatic unspooling and subsequent comeback was put to film in the moving documentary The
Resurrection of Jake the Snake. Now, he wants to help others. He brings his hilarious and frank spoken word show to Second City on Sept. 11.
What can we expect from this show in Toronto next month?
Oh man, expect everything including the kitchen sink, man. A wild ride of road stories from hell and back. Andre [the Giant], Terry Funk, Rick Rude, Undertaker, voice impersonations. The list goes on and on and on. The good, the bad and the ugly. Stuff you’ve never heard before, I guarantee that.
It must have been so tough just going through your addiction, let alone having a camera in your face for the documentary.
That was tough, you know. It was very invasive. We were on-camera 24/7. The only place there wasn’t a camera was the bathroom, and I sometimes wondered about that too. It was what was needed.
What is it about that sport that messes with a guy so much?
Wrestling is the only sport, or business-slashwhatever, where the athlete has no control over what he is doing. You’ve got writers [who determine storylines for the wrestlers] that work for [WWE CEO] Vince McMahon, and sometimes they get to just feeling like not writing for a person anymore.The person could still be talented, healthy and producing, and it doesn’t matter. They get bored and cast him aside. You spend your whole life getting there, and for no other reason you get cast aside. You go home and what the hell are you going to do? You’ve spent your whole life getting ready for that moment and you’re not in control of it. You end up in depression and start medicating.
Are the people in charge are doing enough for you guys?
Well, I’d thank Vince McMahon for throwing the rope out there to me. I went through three rehabs, and he foot the bill on every one of them. If they were going to do something different, it should be more on the lines of retirement or some kind of compensation for the time spent. They make a lot of money, but very little goes back to the talent. Maybe they should get a union? That would be nice. I doubt it’d ever happen.
Who decided to give you a snake, or was that your idea?
No, McMahon supplied those. I don’t like snakes. I never have liked snakes. I’m terrified of the damn things. Sorry to burst your bubble.
So what have you learned about life from all of this? What’s the secret?
For me, it’s just undying hope and feeding that innermost person that’s so important, to take care of yourself inside. You’ve got to be able to feel good about you, and I think that’s what I learned more than anything. I hated myself for so many years, and that’s a very bad thing to do. You have to learn to love yourself.
Tell me one of your favourite memories from your glory days?
Just any time I was in the ring, man. Performing live is just an incredible feeling, controlling people’s emotions, take them on that ride. It’s an incredible feeling. I didn’t have problems in the ring.
Hall of Fame wrestler Jack ‘the Snake’ Roberts