"My philosophy is to be a positive person and be a positive influence on the people around me. I don't always have to be nice to everyone. I prefer to be an energy mirror: If you're nice to me, I am definitely nice to you; if you're not nice to me, I don't feel the need to be nice to you."
– Ron Funches
Guy MacPherson: Hi Ron, how are you?
Ron Funches: Good, how are you today?
GM: Great. It's a beautiful day in Vancouver. Where are you?
RF: I'm in Los Angeles in my home right now.
GM: It's always a beautiful day in Los Angeles.
RF: It usually is as long as it's not on fire.
GM: You lived many years in Portland, right?
RF: Yes, sir.
GM: Did you come up to Vancouver before you first performed here a couple years ago?
RF: Yeah, I performed there a couple years ago as far as the Just For Laughs festival, and then I've been there a couple of times just doing my own shows. I got into a fistfight at a pot store there. I like it there, it's fun.
GM: That seems very counterintuitive.
RF: That's what I think! They're normally very relaxed places. The guy there, I think he liked all types of drugs. He didn't keep it specific. And he was being very rude and racist to the Asian clerk that was working there and it got under my skin. The next thing I know, I'm in a fistfight with the guy and he gave me a bloody lip and I got a free bag of weed. I love Vancouver!
GM: This guy is giving us a bad name. Or maybe he's just giving drug people a regular name.
RF: (laughs) Yeah, he was just keeping it consistent. (laughs)
GM: Before you did your shows here, living in Portland, did you ever just come up here?
RF: I visited a couple of times. I was interested in living there. Then I was reading a lot about your homeless population was very large, and I also didn't have any skills or a job so I was like, I'll probably just go add to that. So I ended up not moving there. But it's one of my favourite places to be because it's so gorgeous. It's like a pretty city that has so much greenery but also is kinda dirty. I like all those things.
GM: If you had moved here, that would have really added to our comedy scene. Do you know anything about it?
RF: I feel like I don't know much about the Vancouver comedy scene. I didn't know you guys had a good scene up there. The festivals up there but as far as your local Vancouver comics, I'm not too familiar.
GM: You gotta get familiar. They're good. With all the acting and voice work you're doing now, it's only a matter of time before you're sent up here to shoot something.
RF: Yeah, seems like every other production is over there. The show that I was on that got cancelled recently, Powerless, they actually shot their pilot in Vancouver, but when they moved to a series, they shot it here in L.A. But if you work long enough, you end up having to do a shoot in Vancouver. I look forward to it.
GM: The tour you're doing is called Funch-a-mania! You're a big wrestling fan.
RF: Absolutely. Been one since I was five years old. To me, the biggest event in entertainment is Wrestlemania so I would like to do a big event in comedy, so it's Funch-a-mania. It's still doing an hour of comedy. It's not like it's going to be all wrestling jokes or anything like that. But I just wanted to let people know that this is an event. I'm coming with an hour of new material that I'm trying to shape up into a special for Netflix or whoever. So this is a chance to come see that material before it's all perfected and gone.
GM: I think we had Wrestlemania here last week.
RF: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah! I love it. I watch it pretty much every day.
GM: Have you been to a live wrestling match?
RF: Oh, yeah. All the time. I was at one on Monday. I brought my girlfriend with me, which is always a good test of a relationship if she's willing to go to wrestling, and she was. And she liked it. So we're going to stay together.
GM: (laughs) How long have you been going out with her?
RF: We've been going out for a while now. Off and on for like over a year, a year and a half. But pretty consistently for... I don't know how long. I'm not good with dates and she's nearby so I don't want to say it. (laughs)
GM: If you were a wrestler, would you be a face or a heel?
RF: I'd be a heel. The heels get to have more fun. You get to attack people, you get to make fun of people and be mean and say what you really think. I don't want to have to worry about everybody and being a babyface; I want to go out there and tell you exactly what I think about you.
GM: But you're so lovable and nice. I guess it would be a cathartic thing for you to get out there and be the jerk.
RF: I feel like either way I'm telling the truth. I would just tell you a nice truth. And if it was me being mean, I would just tell you evil truths. I would just tell you what I feel about you directly.
GM: Have you ever got into the ring?
RF: I've gotten into the ring but I've never done any actual wrestling. I've gotten to get in one and just jump around for a little bit. But I'd be interested in taking some lessons.
GM: Well, you did have that experience with the guy in the pot store in Vancouver.
RF: Yeah, I gotta be ready for the rematch.
GM: It seems to me you had a pretty quick rise in comedy. Does it feel that way to you or am I wrong?
RF: I feel like no matter what, I always have to keep the perspective that I'm very fortunate and I have been very blessed to be able to do some things maybe quicker than some other comedians. But also, there's a lot of failures that I had and things that I want to accomplish that I haven't yet, so to me, I'm always right in the middle, I'd say. I'm up-and-coming, right where I need to be. I want to be doing more movie things and working on my own projects, but I'm working on it; I'm getting better!
GM: You've been in some movies with some heavy hitters: Kevin Hart, Will Ferrell, Bruce Willis.
RF: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I've been having the best of a Hollywood education, I would call it, where I get to learn from a lot of the best. So I'm hoping that I can translate the little bit that I've picked up from them and become a great actor and just continue working on my standup. That's my main thing. I just don't like to do one thing. I don't like to be in a box. Whatever scares me and whatever kinda challenges me is what I'm all about. So whether it's doing movies or TV, I will always do standup since that's what I love to do the most.
GM: You have to take acting classes, right?
RF: Yeah, of course.
GM: Are they helping? Do you get better, you find?
RF: Yes, definitely. I mean I just didn't really any type of education about it before I moved out to L.A. I'd never really done it. And there's a lot of terms, just like being a lawyer or doctor or whatever, where you've got to learn these different terms, like what 'camera side' means and 'blocking' and 'banana' and 'apple'. Those aren't fruits in the Hollywood game! They're different things.
GM: Wow, I'd never heard of those. So what's the one acting takeaway you would pass on to somebody for a free lesson? Something that helped you the most.
RF: To just listen and not be prepared to just jump in with your lines. I think that was an easy lesson that was kind of hard for me to apply. I kinda would just act on my lines and then just wait for my next line. You have to be engaged in that world and just acting in that world as if everything is real even though the words you're going to use are already predetermined. So in a lot of ways, it's just like wrestling. Even though the outcome is predetermined, you have to live it like it's real.
GM: Yeah, somehow I don't think those wrestlers take acting lessons.
RF: (laughs) Some do! But some don't, you can tell.
GM: Listening to your standup, I hear a bit of Todd Barry. Was he an influence of yours?
RF: No, I hate Todd Barry. Make sure you put that in! I hate Todd Barry! He's the worst person in the world! He never influenced anything I ever did. But truthfully, I'm a fan of his but I was more influenced by Mitch Hedberg, Dave Chappelle and Lucille Ball. They're my biggest influences. Actually, when it comes to Todd Barry, I hate being on a show with him because our energies are very similar. I always say I'm like Todd Barry before he lost hope. He's more realistic where my jokes are a little more optimistic, but the tones are so similar that if we're on shows together, I never have worst sets than if I follow him because people are like, 'Oh, we already got this energy.' It's the same exact energy. But yeah, I love Todd. He's one of my favourite comedians. He's one of the best in the world.
GM: In your top three that you mentioned, one of those things is not like the others.
RF: Yeah, well, I feel like comedy is comedy so I never really put it in a box like that. That's just who got me into comedy. When kids are watching cartoons after school, I was watching I Love Lucy and Benny Hill. I Love Lucy was kind of my introduction into the world of comedy in general. And when you look at the history of Lucille Ball, and the work that she did for women in Hollywood, having her own production company, and also showing an interracial marriage on TV in the '50s, to me, she's just one of my biggest influences overall as a human being. That's what it means to be a professional and what it means to stand up for yourself.
GM: I love I Love Lucy now but when I was a kid I didn't like it as much, but I did love The Lucy Show. I don't know if you watched that one.
RF: That's weird. You're weird. (laughs) I haven't heard anyone say that.
GM: You lost a lot of weight recently?
RF: Yeah, I did. I lost 140 pounds.
GM: How did you do that?
RF: I just stopped eating horribly and started working out all the time and I got a trainer. He's really good. He works out Reggie Watts as well, and another comedian I really enjoy named Vlad Caamaño. We kinda have a little workout group and I just make sure I don't eat poorly anymore. Mostly it's a struggle. Every day's a struggle with me not eating the things I wanna eat. I always want ice cream and candy.
GM: Are you at your ideal weight now or are you still going?
RF: I'm at my initial goal weight, which was to get to 225. But now I've set another goal because you can only get better. There's a wrestling show called 205 Live for cruiserweights, so I put a little sign up on my vision board to try to get under 205. So that's my new goal.
GM: Does that mean you smoke less pot so you won't get the munchies?
RF: No. I try to just remind myself that I'm stoned and not hungry. That usually helps unless it's too, too, too late at night and then I have these little ginger candies that are like 20 calories apiece. It's just about making sure I plan ahead, basically, and that I disable my Postmates.
GM: What's that?
RF: It's a food delivery service. They bring you food whenever.
GM: Do you feel the weight loss has changed either your comedy or the reaction you get from a crowd?
RF: It's changed a little bit as far as my energy level is a little higher and I'm able to do multiple sets without really getting winded and tired. When I used to do two hour sets before, I would need to go to bed right after. And now it's not an issue. I never did jokes about my weight or anything so it didn't really affect it in that regard but I had to be aware that a lot of my comedy is about people's perspectives of me so sometimes I have to be like, 'Oh wait, people don't look at me like that anymore.' That's it. And then I'm able to have sex for longer. And that's good.
GM: And with more people.
RF: No, just with the one girlfriend. (laughs)
GM: Your philosophy is to be nice to people.
RF: My philosophy is to be a positive person and be a positive influence on the people around me. I don't always have to be nice to everyone. I prefer to be an energy mirror: If you're nice to me, I am definitely nice to you; if you're not nice to me, I don't feel the need to be nice to you.
GM: Trump is kind of an energy mirror, too.
RF: Oh, I wouldn't say that we're similar in that regard! (laughs)
GM: If somebody's not nice to him, boom, he lashes out. But if they're nice, then they're great.
RF: But he goes overboard. I like to give the exact amount back. I don't want to give you more. I just wanna make sure I'm not a pushover. I have my boundaries.
GM: You don't get political in your act, do you?
RF: No. I think if you just listen to him in general, you know where I stand. And where I stand in general is to be nice to everybody as long as they're nice to you and not trying to take advantage of you. I don't really get wrapped up as far as political parties or things of that nature. Those have always been boring to me. I've never been into that.
GM: The TV and movies you do bring out more fans to your standup shows. Do they ever bring out the wrong type of person or is anybody a good person to come see you?
RF: Luckily, I think the kind of projects I choose, that the people that come out to see me kinda already have a good idea of who I am and what I'm about. Sometimes it can be a dramatic shift if you're a kind of in-your-face comedian. I don't do anything like that. Now that I'm doing more theatre shows and people are buying tickets ahead of time to come see me, they know my brand of comedy and they know the type of comic that I'm going to bring with me. Also, sometimes that's a big issue because when you're starting off, you don't get to choose who you're working with. Sometimes it's like me and then a couple comedians who aren't near my sensibility at all so it would really kinda confuse the audience. But now everything's kinda working out better. Sometimes you still have those issues, like if I go to the Comedy Store and stuff. But my biggest goal is to try to remain myself but be able to explain who I am to the biggest audience possible. So if I can make jokes that work at a comic book store work at the Comedy Store or Improv and I can make them work at some art gallery, then to me that's a great joke.
GM: Are you bringing someone along on your Funch-a-mania tour?
RF: I'm bringing my buddy Gabe Dinger. He was on a recent Seeso TV show doing some standup. He's from the Northwest. He's going to do all the Northwest shows with me: Seattle, Portland and Vancouver. Then he's going to stay in Portland and his birthday's going to be up there so we're going to have a great weekend. It's going to be fun. It's going to be a good show. I'm excited about it.
GM: Thanks so much for talking.
RF: Of course, it was a pleasure!