The Big Questions: Comedian Ron Funches on Chicago, Robin Williams and why Lucille Ball is sexy

Comic Ron Funches records a podcast with Sun-Times Media Local Editor-in-Chief Rob Elder on Aug. 14, 2014 | Geoff Scheerer/Sun-Times Media
Comic Ron Funches records a podcast with Sun-Times Media Local Editor-in-Chief Rob Elder on Aug. 14, 2014 | Geoff Scheerer/Sun-Times Media

Comedian Ron Funches is everywhere.

He’s got a new sitcom on NBC (“Undateable”) and is arguably the best panelist on Comedy Central’s “@Midnight.” Recently, Funches has brought his pothead panda bear adorableness to appearances on “New Girl,” “Portlandia” and “The Tonight Show.”

Funches swung by the studio while headlining Zanies Comedy Club in Rosemont Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

In this podcast, Funches talks about the perils of turning 31, acting against type in a new Will Farrell movie and why Lucille Ball is sexy. Below, Funches talks about growing up in Chicago and his experience doing morning radio with Mancow.

The Big Questions is part of the Sun-Times Media Local podcast network. Below is an edited excerpt of our talk, but you can listen to our entire conversation on our podcast “The Big Questions,” available for free on iTunes, Soundcloud and YouTube.

Q: You were born in California, but you grew up in Woodlawn, is that right?

Ron Funches: Yeah, I grew up on the south side of Chicago, 69th and Woodlawn. It was not the best area, but not the worst area. It’s good to come back and not stay in that area. [laughs]

Q: I had this exact conversation a decade ago with Morgan Freeman, who is also a native, but his associations with Chicago were not good. He was in a gang here, he hated the weather… It was all bad. And I know you had a hard time growing up here, but have you been able to turn that around?

Funches: “So there were definitely a lot of negative things for me here…

For me, comedy was my way to get out of a bad situation, with my mother having an abusive boyfriend. Now, I have fun and I enjoy the food and appreciate the good aspects.

When I came back, and I did the shows, and just really got to see the good parts of the city and just enjoy and see my family. No matter what, I was raised here. I love Chicago. And it made me partially who I am, and I think it has made me a hard worker, and tougher than I would be if I was just in Oregon the whole time. So like I always appreciate Chicago for that. I wouldn’t change anything, at all.”

Q: Knowing you’re the public persona, I cannot imagine you mad — you just have this positive energy and this glow. What does a mad Ron Funches looks like and would I even notice?

Funches: “It just takes a lot. I probably remove myself from the situation before I get to that point usually, but have become better at not carrying other people’s energy. So, if like, if you were, there’s a saying if you like toss or flick me an insult, it is easier for me to just insult you right back and move on.

I did Mancow earlier, and I was never mad, but I was like: “No, you completely talk to me like you don’t give a crap about who I am, you don’t care to learn who I am, and that’s pretty much been this interview” and he laughed and everybody else laughed, because they knew that was how he had been treating me.

I don’t need to be angry. I’ll move on and I am going to go get stoned later and it’s like it’s going to be an issue.”

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