EDITOR’S NOTE: This interview originally posted on May 30th, 2017.
BY MAX ABRAMS Ron Funches’ comedic delivery is as slow as molasses. His voice his idiosyncratic and smooth and he makes you hang on his every word, but man is it worth it. Funches was a writer and performer on the The Kroll Show and was also a regularly occurring cast member, and he’s appeared in a wide array of shows including Portlandia, Bob’s Burgers, Undateable, and more. He will be appearing at Punch Line Philly July 12th-14th. So we got Mr. Funches on the horn for some Q&A. DISCUSSED: The first time he remembers laughing his ass off at something, how to lose 140 pounds, why The Kroll Show really ended, The Fat Boys, Johnny Depp’s cigarettes, and why there is nothing funny about the age of Trump.
PHAWKER: To the best you can recall, what’s the first joke you ever heard that made you laugh?
RON FUNCHES: Um, the first joke that made me laugh? Probably the first thing I remember making me laugh was probably like Bebe’s Kids like when I was a child.
PHAWKER: You grew up in Chicago and then moved to Salem, Oregon when you were a teenager. Oregon is not widely considered a Mecca for African Americans, it’s probably one of the whitest states in the union, and if you read the history that didn’t happen by accident. So what’s it like to grow up black in Salem Oregon?
RON FUNCHES: It was very different. It just taught me like you know everybody is different and things that were cool in Chicago weren’t cool in Oregon. And things that were cool in Oregon were definitely not cool in Chicago. In Chicago, that would get you beat up. Like it just taught me to enjoy whatever I liked and really kind of help shape my perspective to make me the weirdo that you have today.
PHAWKER: You recently lost 140 pounds. Congratulations! What is the secret to losing 140 pounds?
RON FUNCHES: I just stopped doing things that you enjoy. Like if there is a food you like eating, stop eating that you know? And if there is an exercise that you don’t like, you should probably start doing that. It’s really just about stop having fun. If you want to be alive for a long time, you’ve got to really just stop enjoying life. You really just eat oatmeal, and egg white omelets, and stop eating Philly Cheesesteaks, which I love — it was my favorite food. So that rule I will break when I come to Philadelphia.
PHAWKER: I loved The Kroll Show, but I’m still unclear why he pulled the plug in his own show in its prime. What can you tell me about that?
RON FUNCHES: Well I think it’s just that he was done, especially with sketch shows, you kind of have a limited amount of ideas to fill that world before you just run out. I mean, it was a very special show, a lot of the sketches were very good and pretty much like a lot of the people who were working on the show were all starting to get you know, different jobs and it was getting harder to keep that team together and Nick was getting more roles and stuff in places, so I think they were just like you know what, we did three seasons of a great show, why try to do a fourth that might be mediocre and not really focus on it. You know?
PHAWKER: Tell me something about Nick Kroll that most people would be surprised to learn.
RON FUNCHES: He’s a pretty dope boss, probably the chillest boss you can have. Basically he gave me my first job in Hollywood, which is probably the best trivia I can give you. When everyone didn’t want to hire me he hired me.
PHAWKER: You played a member of the Fat Boys in the film version of Art of the Deal starring Johnny Depp as Donald Trump, tell me about that. I haven’t seen the movie so tell me how the Fat Boys figure into Donald Trump’s life?
PHAWKER: I watched an outtake that was like you guys came in rapping about suing people.
RON FUNCHES: Yeah, “Lawsuit Rap.”
PHAWKER: What was it like working with Johnny Depp?
RON FUNCHES: Well he was a very nice guy, I was nervous at first because I always worked with comedians, I’ve never really worked with like a genuine movie star. Except for Will Ferrell, who is also super dope. But he’s also a comedian, so I knew we were gonna be fine, but Johnny Depp was just so nice. He made everybody feel so comfortable and he likes to smoke in doors which is what you can do when you’re a movie star.
PHAWKER: Last question. Is the Trump presidency a goldmine for comedians or is it the kind of shit show that won’t be funny until years after it’s over?
RON FUNCHES: For me it’s probably more of a detriment because I don’t really do political comedy and I don’t really enjoy that type of comedy and so especially like right now sometimes people expect you to have it and I don’t. I kind of use my tours and my comedy as an escape from the real world, as a way to get away from your troubles and the things that are stressing you out right now. So I would assume for other people it’s going fine and I know it’s helped a lot of my friends in shows and help them out but for me, it does nothing but detriment. I just can’t wait for it to be over, really.