It must be hard to hold a grudge against Ron Funches.
Scratch that. We'd imagine it's downright impossible. Thanks to the stand-up comedian's infectious giggle and his laidback delivery, Funches is as warm in his demeanor as he is in his career. As he puts it, he's "like a big stuffed bear."
For almost nine years, the Portland native has been generating a following through his stand-up, appearing on programs like The Conan O'Brian Show, Chelsea Lately, and @midnight, while seizing smaller reoccurring roles on Fox's New Girl, and Comedy Central's Kroll Show (may it rest in peace).
Now, it seems that Funches is finally getting the mainstream notoriety he deserves thanks to his role as Shelly, a central character starring opposite Chris D'Elia on NBC's Undateable, as well as through such movie projects as the newly released Get Hard, starring Kevin Hart and Will Ferrel
Between performing stand-up, doing voiceovers for upcoming animated films, and prepping for the second season of his debut sitcom, Jackalope Ranch caught up with Funches by phone to talk about the important things in life: touching butts and making jokes.
How have things changed for you career-wise since landing a starring role in a hit sitcom? More people are aware of who I am so more people come out to my shows, which is good. It's all really been positive. It's been better. I've been a little more relaxed knowing that I can provide for my son properly without having to travel to the point that I'm breaking my back, so it's really nice. And then I get to still go out and do shows at places that I want to go to instead have to go to. So you know if I'm coming to Tempe it's because i want to!
So does that mean people recognize you now when you're out and about? For the most part, no. But if I'm at like really nerdy places like an arcade or a comic book store, I might get a couple of people who know who I am and it's really cool. I like it.
What kind of comic books are you reading these days? I like Fables right now. I like reading that one a lot because its buttloads of fun. Like Little Red Riding Hood -- it takes stuff like that. It's real fun. And then always Spider-Man and X-men and all that type of stuff.
How much do you relate to your character Shelly on Undateable? Very much. We're very similar. He's just fun, kind of space cadet, a little bit just out off in his own world but really smart and just very loyal. He loves his friend and the city. I like to think that I'm all of those things. We're very similar. He's just a little more peppy and a little more naive than me, but very similar.
Shelly's a bit shy with the ladies. Are you the same way? Yeah, definitely a little bit. I'm not really a big one-night-stand type of guy. I have a nice girlfriend now, but it took me a while to get her, so I'm going to hold onto her for as long as I can.
Which do you like more: stand-up or television? I think they go hand in hand. They help each other out. The more television I do, the more people come see me do stand-up. And I feel like the better I get at stand-up, the more people are interested in me doing TV. I like them both. They're like two kids. Stand-up is my first kid and I love him, but then I was like, "Whoa, there's this new kid and I didn't know I could love him as much as the first one!"
So what's the ultimate goal /dream? I'm kind of living it. I'm on a fun show and working on fun movies and other projects. But what would really be happy with is if I could have my own production company and I was not just helping me make money but I could also help my friends make money and support people that I think are really funny.
What would the Ron Funches biography be called? It'd probably called A Really Chill Dude That Was Really Nice to People and Also Got to Touch a Lot of Cute Butts: The Ron Funches Story.
What got you into comedy? I had wanted to do it for a long time. I had always been into comedy since I was kid. I'd just always been into like I Love Lucy and stuff. Lucille Ball was a big influence on me. And then I started watching stand-up like Dave Chapelle, and Mitch Hedberg and things like that. I really liked Tracey Ullman and The Tracey Ullman Show. I just really liked comedy form a young age and I just always had an interest and I tried it and I fell in love with it.
Who makes you laugh in your life and in your career? In my life, it's my son, my girlfriend, my mom -- they're all real goofy. I'd say like my friends -- Chris [D'Elia] makes me laugh a lot. I'm a really big fan of Hannibal Buress. I like Bill Burr. I love Tig Notaro.
What are Ron Funches' three rules to live by? Let's see. . . Enjoy yourself. You know that's the most important. You've got be happy no matter what. You can't think that something's gonna make you happy. You gotta be happy first and then the rest is gravy.
And then also be nice to people because I think people get real competitive and sometimes you gotta understand you're only really competing with how good you can be. So just chill out and enjoy yourself and be nice to people not just to get stuff but just to be nice. It's easier that way.
And also just work really hard and then try to go to bed real sleepy.
Do you think that second rule helps you or hurts you in the industry? I really can only be me, you know. So it's kind of like either way it is what it is. But I think it's helped me because it's kind of a unique perspective that people don't really expect... I'm the chillest most relaxed person and I don't ever want to get in any fights and I think people kind of dig that.
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What would you be doing if you couldn't do comedy? Let's say just say comedy didn't exist anymore. I'd probably just massage people for fun and just talk to people I would still be doing it and they just would have a name for it. And I'd probably be very poor. I'd probably just be a homeless person that talks to people.
Ron Funches will perform at Tempe Improv. Showtimes are 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 2; 7:30 and 10:15 p.m. on Friday, April 3; and 7 and 10 p.m. on Sunday, April 4. Tickets are $20. For details, visit tempeimprov.com.
See also: 10 Comedians You Should Know