Toronto’s Dark Comedy Festival Roasts The Iron Sheik

The 73-year-old former professional wrestler says he'll "suplex" comedians who cross the line during his roast at Toronto's Dark Comedy Festival.

The Iron Sheik. Photo by Randy Stewart.

  • The Royal Cinema (608 College Street)
  • Thursday, November 7
  • 9:30 p.m.
  • General admission $40

Comedy isn’t always about being nice. For those who like their jokes raunchy and tasteless, there’s an annual event that specializes in all of that. The Dark Comedy Festival was started in 2011 by local comedian Rob Mailloux. This year, it will feature such notable purveyors of filth as Dave Attell and Gilbert Gottfried. But one of the biggest highlights will be a comedy roast of The Iron Sheik.

The Sheik, born Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri, was once a bodyguard for Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Iran’s pre-revolution monarch. Vaziri used his experience in Olympic wrestling to become the notorious “heel” (or villain) to Hulk Hogan’s hero in the 1980s-era WWF. Nowadays, at the age of 73, the Sheik can often be found on Twitter telling you who’s “the real” or who’s a “jabroni” in between inspired bursts of profanity. Ahead of a tour of Canada that will also see him playfully skewered by comedians in Kingston, London, and Hamilton, we had the opportunity to chat with the man who commonly refers to himself as “Sheikie” and “the legend.”

He had some very mean things to say about Miley Cyrus, and some nice things to say about Twitter.

Torontoist: What do you think these comedians are going to make fun of about you?

The Iron Sheik: Bubba, you ask intelligent question. I love the Toronto; the people know the legend. They know I make the world news, and I always break somebody back if they get smart with me. The roast [is] going to talk about how I am the legend every way.

Is there anything people should avoid making jokes about? What happens if someone crosses a line?

If they talk about my family, I beat the fuck out of them and their family and suplex them, make them humble.

Who would you most like to roast? And who would you most want to roast you?

Bubba, I roast the raisin-balls Justin Bieber, or the pancake-ass Miley Cyrus. She a big-time dumb bitch. I love my good friend, the Jeff Ross. He know he can roast the Sheikie, and he know not to get smart with me.

As a wrestling heel back in the ’80s, you took a lot of heat from crowds. How was it to have so many people hating you as you travelled around? Did you ever get used to it?

Real heat I get because I am natural. Natural mean I do my job, and the people love me or hate me—I don’t give a fuck. They know I am the legend and they cannot fuck with me.


At Fan Expo 2013, Mayor Rob Ford Arm-Wrestled Hulk Hogan

How did you go from being a bodyguard in Iran to being a professional wrestler in the WWF?

I work with the Shah. He greatest person. He take me to the U.S.A., where I become U.S. Olympic coach. The Ric Flair and me get trained [at the] same time to become the legend.

What are some of your favourite memories from your wrestling career?

I become WWE [at the time, it was called the WWF] champion in the most famous arena in the world, Madison Square Garden. I become Tag Team Champion [at the] first Wrestlemania ever. I win gimmick Battle Royale, and I make it to the Hall of Fame. What about you? What the fuck do you do?

What are the biggest changes you see in wrestling now, compared to back in the ’80s?

Now, not like the before. Before, all character: Junkyard Dog, Macho Man, Jake “The Snake” [Roberts], Iron Sheik. Now everybody look the same. They don’t have different gimmicks. My brothers—the CM Punk, and the Brock Lesnar, and the Kurt Angle—have the believable gimmick with the natural heat. A lot of them impress me, but still, TV [is] different today.

How hard is it to adapt to life after wrestling? How are your knees and your general health?

I always have the wrestling in my blood, in my heart. My knee, ankle, leg, back always bother me. After 40 years of up and down taking bumps, the road make you in pain always. This [is] why I tell the young generation to save the money and work hard, so one day you be ready.

How did you get started on Twitter? Who are some of the friends and enemies you’ve made on there?

I love the Twitter. Twitter new generation. My agent always help me become with the best on the internet. I love my Twitter fans—they know I am the real. The people I love are my best friends, the Anthony Bourdain, Rob Corddry, Riff Raff, and the Action Bronson. The jabroni is the Chris Brown—he is a punk piece of shit—and the Miley Cyrus. She have ass like pancake.

What’s the latest update on the documentary about your life that was being funded through Indiegogo?

Oh, excellent question. My movie ready to come out in the 2014. The people who support the movie, I love you forever. We going to make movie on the legend to make the world news. Everybody going to see the movie better than the Steven Spielberg. I [would] be happy if you let the world know about the legend movie. God bless you, and have a good day.

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