Ron Funches recently realized how far he’s come when someone commented on his Instagram about how he used to host an open mic hoping to make enough money in tips to afford McDonald’s for his son afterward.
Since then Funches, who wears T-shirts with secret positive messages to himself, has worked hard to become a highly sought-after actor (Undateable and Powerless), writer (Kroll Show and The Eric Andre Show), and one of the best stand-up comedians working today (Comedy Central half-hour special, hit comedy album The Funches of Us). His voice is infectious, his comedy is powerfully hilarious, and he gets high whenever possible.
Ron’s taping his first hour-long Comedy Central special at the Neptune Theatre in Seattle June 19th, and all the money from ticket sales go to the homeless shelter Mary’s Place. I’ve watched him perfect this special at clubs all over LA, and it’s safe to say it’s poised to be one of this year’s best hours of stand-up comedy.
We talked over the phone about puffing joints, pro wrestling, raising a son with autism, and why it’s important to be your own leading man (or woman) in your life. And, if his answer to my first question during our interview is any indication, Funches is leading his best life every day.
How’s your day, man?
Good, just got a workout in, did a taping for the show Match Game, and now I’m just hanging out with my friend Marcia [Belsky], watching Golden Girls, getting ready to smoke a joint.
What do you like smoking right now?
I’m really into a strain called Watermelon, and Mega Queso. I love this company called Nameless Genetics, and Gelato 41 from the Cookies Family, but that’s very difficult to find around town. I use a lot of CBD bath bombs after working out or doing wrestling training.
My mom is a 62-year-old breast cancer survivor, and when she was really going through that, she was so sick I eventually pushed it on her to try to help her appetite. She was more into trying something like Rick Simpson Oil and tinctures, and now she smokes a little bit as well. I’m going to take her to Amsterdam this summer.
Do you like joints, a bong, a pipe?
I like a good bong or smoking joints with friends, but a bong is probably my preferred way of smoking. A nice dab if I’m busy, and you’ve got to get it done—a little dab will do ya!
Do you remember the first time you got high?
Yeah. I was at my friend’s mobile home, um, he had a wizard bong. We smoked out of that, and I ate Red Vines for about four hours. They were the most delicious thing I’d ever eaten, and Half Baked was the best movie I’d ever seen at that time. Then I passed out in my shoes and was like, I think I want to do that again.
My first time I ate a whole package of Nutter Butters and watched Labyrinth.
[Laughs] That’s a good start.
You’re taping a new special for Comedy Central on June 19th.
Yeah, at the Neptune Theatre in Seattle. It’s my first hour special for Comedy Central.
Why did you decide to donate all the money from ticket sales to Mary’s Place?
I was very poor when I was younger, and there were times we were very close to going to shelters, and Mary’s Place is a wonderful family shelter in Seattle. A lot of shelters will only take women and this shelter will take women, children and the father as well. Comedy Central was nice enough to donate an extra $10,000. This taping became a cool event where I’m able to donate money to something I care about, hang out with people in an area I like, and weed’s legal, so we’ll have a great time!
There are a lot of studies about cannabis helping kids with autism. Is it something you’ve considered for your son?
He was on a small amount of THC pills when he was younger because he had seizures, but his seizures have gone away. We’ve weaned him off of it, and he’s not on anything currently. There was a time where he was sleeping about three hours a day and [THC pills] with Melatonin really helped his sleeping habits. It’s a very helpful thing for a child especially under the supervision of a doctor. Now he’s in a regular high school, and he’s the fastest kid in his class.
The response from the crowd when you talk about him in your act is amazing.
I get so many emails or people talking to me after shows. They’ve cried with me, and told me how much it means to them. Whether they learn later that someone in their family was diagnosed with autism, or they have been dealing with it for awhile, my message is all about hope. It’s not the end of the world. It doesn’t mean your life is worse. It just means your life is different, and you just have to embrace that and enjoy it. So I try to do that, and spread that message.
I saw your tweet about hosting a Bar Rescue spin-off for dispensaries.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there are a few dispensaries that are not run well and not classy. I’ve run into some of these places, and they’ve got giant mushroom decals and big wizards everywhere. I’m an adult. I want to go to a nice upscale adult dispensary, and buy things I like. So I want to go in there, and rescue their dispensary. Turn them around, make it real funny, smoke, and have a good time.
When you starting working with a trainer was your goal to be a professional wrestler?
No, I just wanted to get healthy. At my heaviest, I was 360 pounds, and I had a friend who passed away suddenly. That put a lot of things into perspective as far as life being finite. I wanted to make sure I didn’t have any regrets, and the two biggest things I wanted to do since I was a kid was be a comedian and a pro wrestler. So I’ve been training since January with the Santino Brothers down in Bell Gardens. It’s really fun.
I think it’s actually helped my weight loss, and my acting as far as knowing where my body begins and ends, and being aware of what my body is capable of, and pushing it.
You sound like you’ve become very honest with yourself.
A lot of times you either fool yourself, and say you just don’t want things because they seem hard, or you say you want them, but you’re not willing to make the changes, so I just made an effort to run towards things that scare me.
When I was doing Undateable, and then the show Powerless, it was basically the same character, and then that was canceled, and they gave me the opportunity to be on another show which was that same character again, and I felt like, I could probably do this for a while, but I’m not growing. I’m not showing them what I feel like I could do. I want to work towards being like a Billy Crystal, like an awkward leading man.
But, they’re not gonna let you. I have to show them. I have to change my body. I have to write my own things to show them that I’m more than just this quirky character, because eventually if I go down that path they’ll pay me too much money, I’ll get cranky, I’ll become too accustomed to it. Next thing I know they’re firing me for some younger person that looks like me.
I started to see commercials and other shows with characters that were doing my schtick. I was like, oh okay, you guys think you know what I am, and you don’t know what I am because I don’t even know what I am so I’m just going to keep evolving this character, and my own real life because you’re not going to tell me what I am, and you’re not going to copy me, and then make a low budget version of me. That doesn’t work for me.
Is there a mantra you’re trying to live by right now?
My mantra right now is: Legitimately, nothing is ever as hard as I made it out to be in my head. That’s been a consistent truth to me, so I tell myself that whenever I get frustrated or feel like I want to give up. If I fail, that’s fine too. You gotta be willing to set these goals, and say out loud that you want these things, because that’s what I found—a lot of times when I would overeat or when I would have negative habits, I wasn’t believing in myself. But now I believe in me.
I even changed my Twitter to say: Father – Entertainer – Leading Man. Treat yourself like a leading man, and that means a lot of things. It means exercise. Treat your body right. Treat your time right, and be selfish if you have to. It also means being nice to people because if you’re not nice to people, you’re not going to be a leading man for long.
RAPID FIRE WITH RON
Favorite wrestler of all time, and current?
What video games are you playing right now?
Overwatch, Fortnite, and Yakuza 6.
What music are you listening to right now?
Are there any TV shows you’re loving?
Barry on HBO. It’s a great show. I worked with Bill Hader on a movie recently, and saw how much work he was putting in, and how focused he was. It really taught me a lot about the type of focus I need to have.
What’s your favorite pair of sneakers you own?
My Adidas UltraBoosts. I have a pair of numbered Jordan 1 Homage to Home. My Wotherspoons, but I’m wearing them out. They’re my favorite. It’s so weird, you’d think they wouldn’t go with anything, but they go with everything.
Do people try to hug you a lot?
Yeah, a lot. I’m into it usually when they ask. Usually, women ask, but some guys just come up and do it. I’m not into that. Not that I’m not into hugging guys. I’m an equal opportunity hugger, but please just come up and go, “May I hug?” That’s all I ask.