INTERVIEW by REBEKAH ALLEN | PHOTOGRAPHY courtesy of RON FUNCHES
If you haven’t heard of Ron Funches, you’re depriving yourself of hilarity. Not only did his stand-up routine make waves on Conan last year, but now he’s scored a spot in the San Francisco Sketchfest, which features the likes of Eddie Izzard, Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd, and Drew Carey, to name a few. And if you have had the occasion to see Ron either in person, on TV, or online, you know he certainly deserves a spot with the big-timers.
First off, congratulations on your career and how well everything is going for you!
You are part of the San Francisco Sketchfest this year, which is a really big deal! How did you land that gig?
I don’t really know! I worked with Rooftop Comedy, and they had a couple showcases. I did one last year, and I think people just found out about me. I also opened for Eugene Mirman and Michael Ian Black, so I think that’s also what got me on a bunch of shows.
Before Sketchfest and before your appearance on Conan, how did you first get into doing stand-up comedy?
I started in Portland at a club called Harvey’s. Stand-up was always what I’ve wanted to do, and it took me a long time. I always felt like if I got up there and I didn’t like it or I wasn’t good at it, then I had nothing else about me, ‘cause I wasn’t interested in anything else. I was always scared to even try it, but when I turned 23 I started it and loved it. The first time I went up I knew I had found what I wanted to do.
Was the reception good the first few times?
They were up and down the first couple gigs. All the jokes were horrible, but just the feeling of getting up there and doing it was enough to make me continue.
Before living in Oregon, you lived in Chicago, which is a pretty prominent city in the world of comedy. Why the relocation?
I just grew up in Chicago, so I lived there just being a kid. I was not aware of all the great things that were going on around me at the time.
Well, it’s worked out for you! Now, last year in August you ended up on Conan O’Brien. Was that your first nationally televised performance?
Yes. I had a very small part in the first season of Portlandia, but that was the first time I actually got the call.
How did it feel when Conan O’Brien wanted you for his show?
Well, it was nerve-wracking because this was someone I’d always looked up to. He was like my Johnny Carson. I know some people older than me, like David Letterman, but for me, Conan was someone I grew up watching, so it was very wonderful.
I hear he ran your set uncut. Is that true?
That’s amazing! Congratulations! That definitely doesn’t happen very often.
Yeah, I was surprised. When I was practicing, I thought it might go a little over time, but the producer was fairly certain that the audience wouldn’t be that rowdy or have that many applause breaks during my set. It ended up being way over time, so I was very surprised, but very, very happy about it.
From the material that I’ve seen of yours online, your sets seem very personal and focused on the situations in your life. All those all real situations?
For the most part! I mean, a lot of them are twists on the situations, but for the most part I try to write from my life experience.
Are there ever moments in your everyday life when you’re like, “Wow, this needs to be in my set!”
Oh, no, not particularly! It’s usually just me living my life. I have to tell someone else or talk with my wife about an idea and see if it’s something other people would find interesting. I basically just try to catch the little things that happen and see if they get past just being things only I care about.
I assume being a stand-up comedian is a pretty risky profession, as things can often be taken out of context or offend. Has that ever been a situation you’ve gotten into so far?
Oh, not that often. I think maybe a little bit in the past when I was playing more shows where they weren’t necessarily expecting comedy, then they were maybe not open to it. But I haven’t really run into a situation where people are hateful of what I do.
Who are your biggest comic inspirations, alive or dead?
Growing up, I always loved Lucille Ball. I watched I Love Lucy as a kid. I think that was the first comedy that I really just enjoyed and thought that would be a fun thing to do. Right now I just mostly look up to people who are my friends that are really good at comedy, like Moshe Kasher and Tig Notaro. They’re my favorite comedians right now.
Right now a lot of comedians find themselves trying to pursue an acting career or showing up on sitcoms or even having their own sitcom. Is that something you’ve thought about trying to get into?
Yeah! I mean, I just want to expand on getting better at comedy in any way, whether that’s through acting or anything else. I’ve already auditioned for something, but I’m not good at acting at this point. I want to die working in entertainment, so I have to look up all avenues. I don’t see a point in limiting yourself in any aspect. Just try to be the best at anything!
So now you’re going to the San Francisco Sketchfest. What exactly goes on over there?
It’s a month-long comedy festival in San Francisco. We have a lot of different varieties of comedy: stand-up, sketch, variety shows. They always call it, like, the “Summer Camp” where everybody goes and hangs out and has fun and tries to do a good show for people!
How would you describe your act?
I would say I’m just always trying to have a good time, no matter what the situation! That’s my point of view, and my comedy is trying to take the best spin on whatever life throws at you. I want to have fun and enjoy myself. I don’t know if that explains anything at all, but that’s how I feel!
What are some topics viewers can look forward to at your performances?
I usually talk about my son and my family. I also talk about Muppet Babies cause it’s my favorite cartoon, and sometimes I throw candy.
What can Daily BR!NK readers do to support you and track your career?
Well, they can follow me on Twitter or Facebook friend me or go to my shows! It would probably be the best to do all three of those things.
Do you have any shows coming up before Sketchfest?
I have a show in Denver, Colorado, on February 18th at the Oriental Theater. I’m excited about that — it’ll be a fun show. Also, if you’re in college, I’ll probably be going to your college at some point soon. Other than that, just look up my information on Facebook and Twitter; I always shout out about the shows!