If you watch a comedy special, there’s a strong chance it will be full of angry, jaded jokes. One comedian wants to change that. Ron Funches (@midnight! Undateable! Home! Trolls!) brings his positive style of stand up to the stage in his first Comedy Central Special, Giggle Fit. I had a chance to speak with him about his growth as a comedian as well as a person.
I actually saw you with Conan [O’Brien] at the Tabernacle in Atlanta. It was a real surprise because I didn’t think I was going to see you then. You did such a good job. Your set was hilarious.
Ron Funches: Thank you. It was a lot of fun. It was just doing shows with Conan with a group of rabid comedy fans. It was awesome.
I noticed -- this was before the special -- none of the jokes overlapped. It seemed it was all fresh material. It was nice to see you out there not telling jokes from the upcoming special.
Funches: Thank you! That’s really because you only saw me do 15 minutes. If it had stretched any longer than that, you might’ve seen some older jokes. I had a little time between taping the special and it airing. I was trying to work on new material. I don’t want people to go see me and say he’s doing the same old same old.
It was awesome. One of the things I noticed from the last two years -- especially hearing from you on You Made It Weird in 2012 -- everything’s been changed. The weight loss; you got a fame jump; your son is becoming his own person; you’re not shy to talk about money. It’s been a stellar past couple of years for you. Has that changed your perception of yourself?
Funches: Not particularly. Sometimes, I have to sit back and remind myself of those things because I’m still busy working and trying to get better at stuff all the time. I was looking over my schedule for the month and I was like “What’s this from a couple of weeks ago?” And I was like “Oh yeah! My special came out!”
Funches: I forget about the things that even happen. Also, it was taped during the summer. You get the [most] of it back then. I always have the same perception which is “I just want to pay my bills doing comedy. Anything else is icing and I’m really happy about it.” That doesn’t really change. I’m just hungry! The only thing that’s changed, really, is I’m getting told no by bigger people.
That makes sense. One of the things I did notice is [from a] joke called “Secret Pizzas,” you recognize the inability to stop eating if you start. You talked about your weight loss in a couple of your interviews. That works recognizing yourself as a person, growing -- not only as a person but as a comedian as well.
Funches: Thank you! I really appreciate that. I really like that joke because it’s simple and silly. It does say a lot about knowing who I am. There’s some people who can do moderation and there’s some people who can abstain from things. I’m learning about who I am. That’s been going on with comedy and my life in general -- being more confident, being in a better relationship. There was a point where I was like “I’m not going out on dates at bars anymore because I don’t drink. Why am I going to bars with people and watching them drink while I sip a Shirley Temple?” I learned to accept more of who I am. I think that shows in the comedy -- in my special -- that it’s confident; it’s not very braggadocious. It’s just “This is who I am. If you like it, cool. If you don’t, cool.”
Exactly. Speaking of accepting who you are, your intro video to the special is insane. It includes everything you love. Weed, Ric Flair, wrestling. Was that a simple choice for you to make for the [three minute intro] to go into that direction?
Funches: Absolutely. I went into it with the mindset...I didn’t go into it thinking “I’ll make five or six more specials!” If this is the only special I ever make, I want to introduce myself; I want people to know who I am; and I want to showcase the things I love. Having the ability to have someone like Ric Flair in my special is amazing to me. I think it separates things because people talk about it like “You see Ric Flair in everything.” But he’s never been in any other comedy special. He’s only in very famous things.
To have him in there -- and not even just because he’s famous, anybody could do that -- he’s in there because he’s a hero of mine. He’s a person I really look up to. Being yourself is a big part of his thing. I grew up with Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair. One of them was like “I drink and I smoke and I hang out with ladies.” One of them was like “Say your prayers, eat your vitamins.” One of them was a freaking liar!
Funches: I’m always into people who are themselves and tell the truth.
Continuing on with the intro, I’m not a huge wrestling fan but I loved how you entered like a wrestler. Especially the breaking through the old photo of yourself. It was like you were literally and metaphorically breaking down the barrier of who you used to be. That was a beautiful, beautiful thing to do.
Funches: Thank you! I’m glad you liked that! That’s it exactly. You nailed it. If you notice, all of the wrestling stuff is pretty much up front. Then I talk about The Rock at the end. I wanted to address it and have it. But I wanted to make sure, if you don’t like wrestling at all, it wasn’t going to be a deterrent for you liking my special. It’s just window dressing and things that I like. The pomp and circumstance of it. Other than that, it’s just real fun jokes.
Exactly. You weren’t alienating. What I realized when I was watching was that you proved there is no such thing anymore such as black and white rooms. Your comedy is universal. Everybody who likes you, loves you. It’s a great thing to see, especially in 2019.
Funches: Oh man! That is like the most beautiful compliment because I didn’t really even think about that. I saw Carol Burnett give in San Francisco at SketchFest. One thing, when I was watching old clips of her show, I noticed is how racial diverse that her audience was. To me, that was so inspiring. I was awestruck about it because it was back in the early 80’s, late 70’s. How kind she was. I’m inspired by that so for you to even say that makes me really proud. Thank you.
How is everything with your new vision board? Are you on the way with your new goals for the year?
Funches: I’m doing pretty good on them. They’re really about me staying committed to some goals I made in the past. I really like my relationship with my girlfriend and I want to grow that. I’m just trying to focus on my health and get to the goals I want so I don’t have to yo-yo around. I wanted to get a movie part. I did that in January. That’s already a good start. A lot of it is about my son. He’s going to be 18 in a couple of years. I’m trying to find ways to spend more time with him before he gets older [so I] won’t be on the road as much.