In 11 Questions, The A.V. Club asks interesting people 11 interesting questions—and then asks them to suggest one for our next interviewee.
As a stand-up comedian, Ron Funches delivers non sequiturs and absurdist observations in a sleepy sing-song, a style that melds surprisingly well with subjects like neck tattoos, Humane Society pamphlets, and the ethnic demographics of the tuba-playing population. It also lends itself well to the character of happy-go-lucky weirdo Shelly on the NBC sitcom Undateable, which recently wrapped its first season. Funches can be seen on select dates of Funny Or Die’s upcoming Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival; the last five episodes of Undateable are available for streaming on Hulu.
1. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
Ron Funches: The worst job I ever had was working as a Lady Liberty sign-twirler for a tax services place, where I’d just dance and have fun. The way I talk about it makes it sounds like a fun job—but then I got a staph infection from the costume. So that was probably the worst part about it.
The A.V. Club: How many other people were you sharing the costume with?
RF: Like four. [Laughs.]
AVC: How long did you do it for?
RF: You just do it for a few months during the tax season—so like for three months. January till—I don’t know—April.
AVC: What part of the country were you doing it in? What was the weather like that time of the year?
RF: It was raining—it was in Oregon. [Laughs.] It was rainy and slightly windy and gross.
2. What did your parents want you to be?
RF: I think they just wanted me to graduate college—which I didn’t do. So that was disappointing to them. They didn’t have a real occupation for me, but they were very into me graduating college—so they were upset about that.
AVC: What were you studying in college?
RF: Nothing. It was just general studies. I was not. Good. At. It. [Laughs.]
3. Who would be your pop-culture best friend?
RF: I think I’d probably be really good friends with Hulk Hogan. I think we’d get along and I’d, like, chill him out because he’d be all rambunctious and rowdy and I’d be like, “Chill out, Hulk Hogan. Everything will be okay.” And he’d be like, “Thanks, Ron.” And then we’d form a friendship.
4. What game show would you be good at?
RF: Supermarket Sweep. I’ve watched a lot of that and I’m good at grocery shopping and I know where to get the bleach and the turkey so I’d be really good at Supermarket Sweep.
AVC: Do you know anyone who’s been on Supermarket Sweep?
RF: No! I don’t even think it’s around anymore, or has been around for the last decade—but I’d want to be on it.
5. How would your enemies describe you?
AVC: It’s hard to imagine you having any enemies.
RF: I got some enemies. We all have enemies, but my enemies would probably describe me as surprisingly ruthless.
AVC: You present this a friendly front, but look out: Here comes ol’ “Ruthless Ron.”
RF: “Here he comes. I didn’t think he would be so petty, but he was!”
6. If a deli named a sandwich after you, what would be on that sandwich?
RF: I will tell you exactly. It would be like a Philly cheesesteak, except they’d put onion rings in the middle of it. There’d be steak and cheese and mushrooms and then there’d be onion rings in the middle and it would be delicious and everybody would want it.
AVC: That’s pretty specific—has a deli already named a sandwich after you?
RF: Big Ass Sandwiches in Portland. They’re a sandwich cart, not a deli, but they named a sandwich after me and that’s what they put on it because that’s what I asked.
AVC: So you’ve had it, and you can attest to its tastiness?
RF: Oh, yeah! It’s a good decision.
7. What was your first big, grown-up purchase?
RF: It was probably my 2011 Volkswagen Jetta.
AVC: Was that something that you had to purchase when you moved to L.A.?
RF: Yeah, definitely. Though it still wasn’t that adult of me—I brought my manager with me like she was my mom, because I had no idea how to make a purchase that large. But I still bought it and they gave it to me, which I didn’t think they would. But if you have money, they will. I didn’t know that.
AVC: Do you still have that car?
RF: I do.
AVC: How do you like driving in L.A.? Not that you have much of a choice.
RF: Yeah, I mean I guess you learn to veg out about it. I think that’s the difference between meetings in New York and L.A. In New York, it’s like “be there and be there on time.” In L.A. it’s like, “Oh, we get it. You might have ran into traffic. We’ll reschedule.” It’s frustrating, but overall it’s like—even if I don’t get there on time, we’ll reschedule.
AVC: How does that compare to people’s attitudes toward timeliness in Portland?
RF: [Laughs.] Well, in Portland you don’t have a meeting to go to. So they’re way less worried about traffic.
8. What is your go-to karaoke song?
RF: My go-to is probably “No Diggity” by Blackstreet.
AVC: That’s a tough one. The only part anyone remembers is the chorus, and the flow in the verses is really tricky.
RF: The flow does get tricky, but I just like doing the rap when Dr. Dre starts rapping. That’s fun and you have to have a good partner with you—you have to have someone that you trust to back you up and sing the song with you because it does get difficult.
AVC: The year that “No Diggity” was an A.V. Undercover selection, it took forever to get a band to do it, because people would volunteer and then back down after they realized how difficult it would be to cover.
RF: Yeah, but that’s how you know it’s a great song, because not just anybody can do it.
AVC: Do you feel like you’ve done justice to it when you’ve done it at karaoke?
RF: No. Not at all—it sounds horrible. [Laughs.]
9. What’s the worst living situation you’ve ever had?
RF: I lived in my friend’s basement for about six months. I shared a basement with him that his mom constantly wanted to kick me out of. It would flood—and it was in Oregon, so it would also rain a lot. So it was definitely not the best living situation, sleeping on a futon in a basement that I was constantly afraid I was going to get kicked out of.
10. Who could you take in a fight?
RF: Not too many people. [Laughs.] Who could I take? I can’t even take my son, that’s for sure. He’s strong. [Laughs.] I could probably take a mascot or something, like the Pillsbury Doughboy. I could probably beat him up.
AVC: Actual-sized Pillsbury Doughboy, like standing on your kitchen counter?
RF: Either the tiny one or, you know, one you’d see at a supermarket. His movement and vision wouldn’t be top notch because he’s in a costume.
AVC: And bringing a mascot into it, real or costumed, adds a good amount of distance to the scenario. You can feel a little bit better because it’s like you’re fighting a character, not an actual human being.
RF: Yeah. As it bleeds all over you. [Laughs.]
11. Do you have anyone’s autograph?
RF: [Laughs.] I do, actually. I don’t know if you know who Rory Scovel is—he’s a great comedian that I like and he’s a good friend of mine. He had a poster for a show that he was going to do during the Edinburgh Festival, but he canceled the show. So that became very cool to me that he had this poster from this show that he never did. So I got it from him and he signed it for me and it’s up in my room.
AVC: Do you think you could start a full collection of autographed posters for shows that never happened?
RF: As long as comedians keep canceling shows for random reasons, for sure. We’re not the best at business.
Bonus question from Uzo Aduba: What else is there left to say about life?
RF: [Laughs.] Was she drunk?
AVC: It’s possible. This interview was conducted at the Austin Television Festival.
RF: [Laughs.] What is there left to say about life? There’s so much left to say about life—there’s so much life left to live. I don’t know, I think that’s the wisest part: Ten years ago, it seemed equally possible for me to be dead in the street somewhere as it does to be on a television show. So it’s fun not knowing things. There’s so much left to say, people to meet, so much love to have and get your heartbroken probably. This seems like a very long answer—it’s not going to fit on a paper. [Laughs.]
AVC: It’s all right: It’s online, we have all the space that you need.
RF: Well, I think the answer is that there is so much left to say because there’s so much left to do.
AVC: And as a stand-up comedian, you should hope so, because if you run out of stuff to say about life, you’re out of a job.
RF: Yeah. Then I’m just back to sign-twirling in my Lady Liberty outfit. So there needs to be something to say.
AVC: What do you want to ask our next 11 Questions subject?
RF: I want to know which Super Mario power-up best represents them. Are they like a mushroom, are they a Fire Flower, are they the star, or are they a Tanooki Suit, where they’re wearing a big squirrel outfit? What is it about them—what power up would that be? I want to know the answer to that.