INTERVIEWS

Ron Funches: A Singular Sensation.

By

funchRon Funches is appearing at Rooster T. Feathers in Sunnyvale on August 21st–24th. If Ron Funches was a baseball pitcher his career would look like a perfect game at the top of the 7th inning. Making his name in the Northwest comedy scenes of Portland and Seattle and delivering a scorching set at Montreal’s New Faces cemented the good natured comics ascent. Funches inimitable personal style and slow twisting delivery doesn’t seem forced, the kids a natural.

 

Who did you come up with in Portland or were you a lone wolf?

(Laughter) No, I had friends I hung out with, that I still hang out with. Ian Karmel and Richard Bain who was at News Faces Just for Laughs this year. There are a lot of people doing great comedy in Portland like Dwight Slade. For the most part I was just traveling with whoever I was working with.

The Bay Area has a very supportive comedy scene because people get regionally big and then move. Is this the same way it is in Portland.

It’s a great scene with a lot of comics doing different stuff and being supportive.  The Bridgetown Comedy Festival is great because it has brought so many amazing comedians through Portland.  Even Portlandia has been really helpful because they hire stand-up comics and show Portland to be a unique place.

What was your first festival?

Bumpershoot in Seattle.

How long were you working the mics in Portland and the Northwest before you moved to LA?

6 years.

Did you find a steady trajectory of success during those six years?

No. More like steady failures, but opportunities that made me constantly work harder to get better. I slept on couches and did whatever shows I could up and down the Northwest—Seattle, Tacoma, Humboldt, anywhere that would book me. I made sure my jokes worked in other places.

How hard were you hitting the mics when you started?

I had to start off pretty soft because I had a son that was three years old at the time. I kept working harder and then I was lucky enough too get a manager who is super lovely and I just kept working harder. A Lot of people think it’s going to get easier if you get a manager, but it really gets harder.

Where you getting so many opportunities that you needed help organizing it? How did you get a manager?

I was doing a lot of shows in a lot of areas. I got invited to audition for the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal. Managers usually hang around that showcase seeing if they like ya and then they find you. We started talking and hit it off and she had certain properties that I liked. She said if you ever need help to call even though I didn’t feel like I needed help at that time. I started doing more shows in LA and she began to help me get booked on shows and meet certain people.

Just for Laughs does seem to be the #1 place where comics have an actual opportunity to “break” into the big time.

Yeah. I think so. I had been working hard in comedy and people were interested in that. But I also think it depends on what you want to do. Some comics just want to do straight stand-up and for some managers and agents that’s not too appealing because that’s not where they make the most money. I was always interested in acting and took acting classes when I moved out here and I think that’s helpful. Also, I’m really interested in writing. But, if you are only focused on one thing you might have a harder time finding management. You have to have a passion. I really love acting and not just to make money at it.

When you reached that point in Portland where you had outgrown the region, were you on the fence about either moving to LA or New York?

I knew I was going to move to LA because I’m more of a laid back person and I have family in LA and it’s more my lifestyle.

Was your stage persona always so laid back, or did you present material faster when you first started?

I just talk how I talk although maybe more elevated. When I first started I tried doing more traditional of an act. I knew people who wrote better jokes then I do and perform better than I do but they can’t be me better than me. Being me is going to be my thing.

Living in LA and going to auditions seems stressful. Has it been an easy transition for you?

It’s all about opportunities. Sometimes you don’t know about an audition until the day before and that’s hard—and then that becomes your world, but after you audition you have to let it go. As long as you did your best it always comes down to if you are the person they thought would be perfect for the role or character. If it’s not, that’s not my fault. My thing is I didn’t like going there and making a fool of myself. It’s not like bombing on stage.

It’s somewhat anathema to say you go to a “stand-up comedy coach” but everyone has an acting coach. How is it being coached? Do you take suggestions naturally?

I work with someone who is actively on shows and is acting herself so its easy to respect her suggestions. I’ll show her a script I have and she’ll nail it right away and I’ve been working on it for days. You learn to lose ego and keep trying. Experience makes you comfortable. Even in comedy I always talked to the people who have made it to the places I was trying to get to.

True. But comics are still rugged pioneers. You can learn things about the game, but your act is yours to figure out what to do with. What are some of the things your acting coach tells you? 

Mostly it’s to remind me to not act. Give a performance, but react, listen to let your body naturally react to being stimulated. Be present and engage in those fictional situations as if they were real.

What is your dream?

Mostly I just want to get better at comedy, overall. I want to do an album and an hour special in support of it, I really like acting and possibly do my own show I created and act in more movies. Like Jack Black or Ben Stiller type stuff, that’s my dream

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Interviews
08/10/2014

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