Published Feb 21, 2020Ron Funches usually starts his insightful interview podcast, Gettin' Better, with an affirmation.
The Los Angeles-based comedian, a talented standup and voice and real-life actor (credits include Trolls, Bob's Burgers, Undateable and Curb Your Enthusiasm and he currently hosts a game show on Quibi called Nice One!) has been known to engage in the odd Twitter feud or even call out a massive company (Netflix) for opting not to release an awesome special of his like 2019's Giggle Fit (which ultimately found a home with Comedy Central).
But Funches is also a dad who has been open about the joys and challenges of raising his 17-year-old son, who is autistic. In fact, these meditative and philosophical affirmations that fans have come to love, stem from a parental exercise.
"If I want to talk about things and what's going on in my life, I just put it in my podcast," Funches tells Exclaim! "I just stumbled into doing these affirmations because it's a thing I would do with my son in the morning and just before he goes to bed. I'd always tell him he was kind and smart and strong and a wonderful person and that he needed to go into the world feeling that way.
"So I started doing that on the podcast and people would email to say how much it made their day feel better and others would tell me how preachy and stupid my podcast was. It's either for you or it's not, but I don't need everyone to love what I do."
On a recent episode, following the tragic California helicopter accident that claimed the lives of nine people, including Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi, Funches devoted time to reflect upon the loss his city was feeling with Kobe's passing but also to call out people (including comedian Ari Shaffir, whom he described as being "hacky") for immediately assailing Bryant's character, as most others mourned.
"My point was that when he passed, it's no longer about him, it's about the people who were left behind who had nothing to do with the allegations he was a part of," Funches says now about his starkly empathetic monologue. "It's about his wife, his other children; they lost a husband, a father, a sibling, a daughter. To jump on him at that point was classless to them, not necessarily to Kobe."
It's the kind of high level insight that has fans praising Funches for his whole "gettin' better" ethos.
"It's just about the constant struggle and pursuit of getting better at life," he says of the podcast. "I was thinking about how many people think they've made it because they reach a certain point or they're on a certain show. In my limited successes, I've found that not to be true at all. And yet so many people I know are constantly in pursuit of the next goal and becoming better people and that's something that fascinated me and was something I wanted to talk about with people so we feel more unified and that we're not struggling alone.
"I have gotten emails from people who tell me listening to the podcast has made them look at their life and got them going to therapy," Funches continues. "I'm like, 'Whoa!' That's all you want as an entertainer — to change and affect someone. If I affect someone and they start doing these affirmations to their kids, that's really what I want to do."
Another thing that Funches wants to do is interview Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
Funches is a massive wrestling fan whose last special features Ric Flair and whose podcast guests included Stone Cold Steve Austin. After some prompting, he adamantly believes comedy and wrestling are connected.
"Yeah, of course, wrestling is hilarious and it has a long history of working with comedy. I watch less than I used to, but by less, I mean five to six hours a week, so that's still a fair amount. But I have a lot of action figures in my office and one of the ones I got recently that's my favourite is a two-pack of Jerry 'The King' Lawler and Andy Kaufman from their feud together. To me, that's one of the most beautiful things; that's the exact representation of what I love with two of my favourite things coming together that were hilarious and legendary.
"My main connection between comedy and wrestling is that they're two things where you either get it or you don't. There's no time to explain to people who don't get it.
"One of my biggest heroes is the Rock," Funches adds. "Not just in a funny way; I do think he's a true testament to hard work and dedication. The fact that he worked his way to the top of not one, but two industries, and had the foresight to not let his body break down [as a wrestler] and then turn himself into the biggest celebrity in Hollywood, I think is tremendous."
With the Rock as his spirit guide, Funches continues to carve his own creative path into the future.
"I'm working on a new hour for sure," he reveals. "It doesn't necessarily have a home and I'm just taking this tact of enjoying things. I've noticed it in my comedy peer group as well, of this hamster wheel of like, 'Make a special, make another special, make another special,' and not seeing much elevation from that, except in rare cases.
"So I'm just gonna carve at it and when I feel it's ready, it's ready. Or, if some of these other avenues I'm taking, like hosting this game show for Quibbe and I'm acting quite a bit —if any of those lead to more desire for people to work with me on a special, I could put it together pretty quickly. But I'm not going to rush it."
See Ron Funches perform live at Vancouver's JFL Northwest Festival on February 21 and February 22.
Listen to this interview with Rom Funches on the Kreative Kontrol podcast via Apple Podcasts or below: