The Thanksgiving holiday may be over, but Chicago-born comedian Ron Funches, a frequent performer on the comedian’s TBS show Conan, is still plenty thankful for Conan O’Brien.
Next year O’Brien will premiere his new 30-minute TBS show. But before that he will hit the road for his first stand-up tour since 2010, including a show Friday, Nov. 30, at the Riverside Theater. Funches will be along for the ride, as well as James Veitch, Taylor Tomlinson and Flula Borg.
Before he performs in Milwaukee, Milwaukee Magazine caught up with Funches to talk about the show and his comedy.
The is Conan’s first tour in a while. Seeing as it’s billed as a night of stand-up and investment tips, what advice have you given Conan to get him ready?
Mostly just focusing on Tesla stocks and Blue Chip. There’s a new company called SmartSweets, that once they go public will be great. I’m mostly handling the stocks portion of things. I’m not really helping him with his standup because it’s more of a competition. I don’t want him to do better than me. So, I’ve mostly just listened to him play the guitar for a couple hours every day and then we go out and do shows. It’s been a dream come true, actually, to be honest. He’s given me advice and talked to me about comedy and entertainment in general. It’s a real dream come true. It’s been a great experience.
What do you find funny about Milwaukee and Wisconsin these days?
Cheese curds. Cheese curds are funny in general to me, the fact you guys eat fried cheese and you’re like ‘this is an okay snack to eat.’ That’s not okay. That’s just asking to die. So that’s really funny to me.
I love how many water slides you have in your general area. I love the Wisconsin Dells. That’s funny to me. Mostly I just love water slides and water parks in general and the fact that you guys have them in such a wintry area, even though they’re not available in the winter, is funny to me. I love going to Wisconsin.
Now I’m traveling to Milwaukee a lot doing stand-up. It’s one of my favorite places to perform because people there are really fun and they’re usually very inebriated because you guys drink a lot there.
You have a new special coming out January 4 on Comedy Central called Giggle Fit.
I’m very excited about it. I think its some of my best material. I got a really good intro on it with one of my heroes, [Ric Flair], and I’m excited for people to see it.
What exactly is a giggle fit?
Giggle fit is what I’m trying to make you do during my show. I want to make you laugh so uncontrollably that you go into a spasm and you have a giggle fit. It’s also a play on the fact that in the last couple years I lost 140 pounds, which is a lot, and I have a big giggle and now I’m fit.
As you mentioned during the special, you focus a lot of your comedy on things you love rather than hate. Why’s that?
That’s just something I figured out when I started comedy. I figured the job was traveling from city to city and telling the same jokes over and over, trying to perfect them and changing the wording of them every now and then. So, I realized I didn’t want to go out there and talk about things that were negative and things I hated every single night. I wanted to promote the things I love and talk about things that make me happy. That’s not to say I shy away from negative topics, but I always try to look at the positive side of things no matter what.
And that’s how I was raised and who I am as a person. I’m not Lewis Black yelling at things. I’m more like ‘yeah that sucks but maybe we can look at this side of it’ and there’s a lot of humor in that.
You recently starred in the comic book-based TV series Powerless. Next year you’ll be making a return to the DC universe with the animated series Harley Quinn. What can you tell me about that project?
I play one of Harley’s gang members. I’m also King Shark. The skits have been extremely funny. All the people in it are amazing. I’m excited they chose me to be in this and I get to work with people like Jason Alexander and Alan Tudyk again. It’s just amazing to have all these talented people and I’m coming in and doing my silly voices. It’s been really fun, and I think people are going to like it.
Are there any other projects you’re excited about?
I started a podcast that I’ve really been enjoying where I interview successful people from different walks of life, whether it be comedy or wrestling or voiceover or sports, and we talk about what we try to do to get better at life and careers. It’s pretty funny but also pretty helpful. It’s called Gettin’ Better with Ron Funches.
It looks like you’re having a lot of fun doing a variety of things these days.
Yeah. I’m working really hard and it’s been a lot of fun. A lot of it are things what I want to do and things I’ve been trying to get to. I get to do a couple voices and tour with Conan and I have my own special coming out. I’m working on writing my own shows and, whether they go or not, it’s fun to have the opportunity. I’m trying to take advantage of it and enjoy my life and enjoy my son and family.
Go See It: Conan and Friends: An Evening of Stand‑Up and Investment Tips with Ron Funches, James Veitch, Taylor Tomlinson, and Flula Borg | Friday, Nov. 30 | The Riverside Theater