Ron Funches keeps challenging himself and through those tests, he not only gets better as a performer, he also avoids complacency.
In addition to being an outstanding stand-up comedian, Funches, who headlines Goodnights Comedy Club in Raleigh this week, has a long list of TV and movie credits, including the greatest run on Comedy Central’s “@midnight” in the show’s five-year existence.
Funches succeeds at least in part because of the rejection that is inherent in most every show business career. Being told “No” can sometimes be the best kind of motivation, particularly in the world of arts and entertainment, where someone might hear “No” 15 times before getting that first “Yes.”
But part of Funches’ drive is also internal and unique. How else to explain the man acting on a childhood dream of being a pro wrestler after already realizing another childhood dream of being a comedian?
During a Wednesday afternoon phone interview, Funches discussed the wrestling classes he’s taking, how losing weight improved his mental state as well as his physical appearance, the ways in which his son keeps him humble and more.
Enjoy the interview, follow Funches on Twitter and don’t forget The Best Tweet I Can Find in Five Minutes at the end.
Tony Castleberry: Did you watch the Ric Flair 30 for 30 and if so, what are your thoughts?
Ron Funches: Of course I did. I loved it. I had plans to go out that night and I canceled them because I was like, “I’m too into this ‘30 for 30.’” It was beautiful. I already knew so much about him, but I learned new things about him. To me, it just reaffirmed that he’s the greatest wrestler of all time. I love him to death. He lives the gimmick and I’m just happy he’s still alive. It was amazing. Did you watch?
TC: No, but it’s in my queue and as a North Carolina guy, I love Ric Flair. I have from the time I was a child. I remember when I was 12, 13 years old going to the Greensboro Coliseum and watching that guy in the ring. He’s an icon and what you mentioned is true: Even though we know so much about him, when a documentary is done well, it feels like you’re watching something new, doesn’t it?
RF: Yeah, they have a really good way that they produce them and I think they get other information out. They went into his childhood. I had forgotten that he was adopted. … He is an icon and he’s my favorite wrestler as well. It was a pleasure to watch.
TC: I asked Lavell Crawford about this and I’m curious what your feelings are on the subject: Does your sense of humor change when you lose a lot of weight?
RF: No, not really for me. It’s a question that you get a lot. People think you’re gonna be less funny or different when you lose weight.
TC: [laughs] I gave up drinking a little over a year ago and I feel like I have kind of a new outlook on things. I know that sounds all hippie-dippy, but did you feel that way too when you started losing all that weight and got healthier?
RF: I think I definitely have a more positive outlook and a more confident outlook about what I’m able to achieve and what I think I can accomplish. I didn’t think I could do it and once I figured out that I can do it and I like working out, it’s like, “What else can I do?” I’m starting to train to be a pro wrestler in January. Any type of challenge that I thought I couldn’t do in the past, I want to try to accomplish and feel stronger.
And congratulations to you on the drinking thing. I smoked a fair amount of pot and I had to get that under control. I quit smoking for about a month. It’s like, “Hey, if I can lose this weight, I can do anything.” That’s the best thing that it gave me, a more positive outlook on life and I’m more confident.
TC: I totally agree. What is this pro wrestling thing about, Ron?
RF: At the end of every year, I try to come up with some goals for myself that I want to accomplish. A lot of them are business related or money related, but for some of them, I just try to have some fun. There are only a couple of fields that I’ve been interested in my whole life. One was comedy and the other was wrestling. When I was younger I didn’t think I could do either, so now that I feel like I can do comedy, let me see if I can try to be a pro wrestler. So I’m starting classes. I’ve already done my orientation. There’s a school out here (in Los Angeles) called Santino Brothers Wrestling Academy. I start Jan. 8.
TC: Best of luck on that. I know you’re going to kill it. That’s got to be a thrill doesn’t it?
RF: I’m real excited. I knew I would find out when I went to orientation if maybe it was just a pipe dream or something that I really wanted to do. Going in there reminded me of when I started comedy and going to open mics. When you’re on the outside, you think, “There’s no way I can do it.” Then you go to these open mics, these tryouts, and you go, “OK, there’s a couple of great guys. Maybe I won’t be as good as them, but some of these people just suck. [interviewer laughs] Why not give it a shot?
TC: Hell yeah, man. Is it tough to stay humble knowing that wherever you go, you’re the all-time “@midnight” champion?
RF: [laughs] No, it’s not. My son makes sure I stay humble. He doesn’t care about any of that. He’ll come over and fart right in my face if he feels like it. [interviewer laughs] I have someone that definitely keeps me humble and I have so many more things that I want to accomplish. I feel like the further you get along, it’s still the same process, you know? It’s just people higher up that are telling you “No” now. You’re being told no by more important people and I just need to prove them wrong like I proved those other people wrong.
TC: Absolutely. Are you happy with how the shows have been going on this tour?
RF: They’ve been going really well. I’m mostly just trying to sharpen up an hour to try to sell as a special to whoever will have it. At first, it was a slow go and I didn’t think it was ever going to be as good as the material on my album.1 but now I’m like, “Oh, I like this much more and I like this perspective more.” I feel like I’m getting more confident and about more of what I want to do and less trying to please people. I think the material is getting sharp. I’ve got to be ready to move on from this and start over pretty soon. Hopefully people will get a chance to come see what I’m working on for the next hour and I hope they like it as much as I do.
Here it is, The Best Tweet I Can Find in Five Minutes:
‘What’s that, chocolate? Everyone who laughed at my hat must die? Well, you’re the boss.’ pic.twitter.com/t9jnJzKct2
— Damien Owens (@OwensDamien) November 9, 2017