Ron Funches has had some big gigs over his stand-up, movie and television career thus far. Funches will be hosting a comedy show tonight at Starrcast II as the comedian, actor and writer is long-time pro wrestling fan.
This is not new news for anyone who follows Funches on social media or even listens or watches his "Getting' Better with Ron Funches" podcast. Here the busy entertainer took a break from the road and preparing for his next tour stop to talk about his fandom. Starrcast II takes place May 23-26 from Caesars Palace and Tuscany Suites and Casino in Las Vegas. If you can't make to Sin City for Starrcast, FITE has a pass available to check out all four days of stage shows.
Was there a moment for you or someone that made you a fan and initiated your love of pro wrestling?
It was probably around five or six growing up in the South Side of Chicago. I grew up in a house raised by my mom and lived in a house with my aunt and sister and cousin. Just a lot of ladies. My uncle would take me to the Rosemont Horizon in Chicago. He would take me to house shows. I would see Hulk Hogan versus Earthquake. I saw a lot of stretcher matches. I saw the Ultimate Warrior. I saw Jake "The Snake." The over-the-top-ness, the big music and explosions. I loved it since I was about five years old. I quit watching it in my early teens when I wanted to start having sex with ladies. I didn't think they liked wrestling. Then when that didn't work out either way, I got back into it.
Who got you back into it then?
I think for a lot of people my age; ECW was showing a lot of boobs and violence and stuff. So, I was like, "I guess I'll go over here." I liked the more adult ECW stuff, Rob Van Dam, him and the Dudley Boyz were a big influence in pulling me back into my lap.
You mention the Rosemont Horizon. Is there any one event you'll always remember that you attended?
As a child, yeah. That would be Spring Stampede in Chicago. Seeing Maxx Payne and Cactus Jack versus the Nasty Boys. They just fought all across the building. It was just really, really crazy. It was influential to my young mind. As an adult, it was probably going to PWG shows here in L.A. It kind of reignited my love of wrestling and got me involved with wrestling, meeting and hanging out with wrestlers and talking to people. That is what got me back in hardcore where I'm hanging and talking to people and going to Ric Flair's birthday party.
You go from Spring Stampede and watching him wrestle to going to his birthday party to doing his roast. Seems like he is following along your career here with wrestling.
I'm happy with it. I love it. It's a dream come true for me. The fact he was willing to do the intro to my special. That was one thing, but to be invited to his birthday party and some of his family stuff. To get a chance to celebrate him and also make fun of him is something I'm grateful for.
What was attending Ric Flair's birthday party like? There seem to be an interesting mix of attendees there.
To me, it was I died and went to heaven. It was all these people I grew up loving that I watched when I was a child coming together to celebrate one man. As much as things have changed, there is still this stigma with wrestling and how people look at it. But to me, it was really eye-opening to see the respect he had from all communities. From football, Todd Gurley was there. Evander Holyfield, actors or musicians and his doctor and his family. That's where I want to be when I'm 70. I don't necessarily need Charles Barkley there, but I'd love to know I affected a lot of people and generations of people. It's a beautiful life.
You've made different wrestling references in your appearances and stand-up acts. Who would you say within the pro wrestling industry has become some of your biggest fans?
I get a lot of respect from guys who are my friends now like a Kassius Ohno, Chris Hero. He is just a nice guy. Sami Zayn too, but these are just guys who not necessarily seen my comedy. Guys who I've gone to shows and hung out with and gotten to know more. After my special I got a beautiful tweet from The Rock about how much he liked my special and liked being called "Beyonce for the Boys." Privately I got a message from Kevin Owens talking about how much he liked me talking about being a single dad to a son with autism. How he has struggles with his son, and he is open in his son dealing with autism. That was the one that means the most to me.
You're doing some stage shows at Starrcast.
Thursday I'm doing a straight-up, stand-up show with a lot of comedians. It's a chance for people there wrestled out a little bit and just want to see a regular stand-up show. I'm sure we will be talking a little bit about wrestling. But it's just a comedy show with some of the greatest comedians in the country. It is definitely worth seeing. But if all you care about is wrestling, I'm also doing a "Get High and Watch Wrestling with X-Pac". It' will be Mystery Science Theater 3000 meets wrestling, we're going to have a video made by Matthew from Botchamania He will be on the mic with us. We'll just be watching some classic clips and making fun of some old promos and old botches and getting pretty stoned. But you don't have to if you don't want to, but I will be.
What do you make of guys like Dolph Ziggler trying their hand at stand-up? Do you feel it's a natural transition?
It's a very similar job. You're going town to town. My act is no different than somebody's match. You try things here and there. You keep pushing yourself. The difference is I don't put myself through tables. I get it. I just like it when people have respect for my craft. Like when I wanted to do a little wrestling, I went to a wrestling school. I found out I wasn't too good at it, but I made sure to respect the craft. That's one thing I think of Dolph a lot.
Have you given him any advice?
No. That would make him a s---- comedian if he was asking me for advice. He just has to figure out what he is doing on his own. That's what he has done. I've done a couple of his shows. It's cool. The last show I did I said he is a true comedian. This is what his passion is. Now he is just slacking off at his day job, barely even shows up wrestling. He is just taking the money and having it fund his comedy career. It's beautiful I love it.
You have all these names that are going to be at Starrcast. Is there anyone you are going to go out of your way to meet?
Bret Hart. I love Bret Hart. He was at WrestleMania and the Hall of Fame. I was at the hotel with the wrestlers, but every time I saw him, he was busy. He is my favorite when I was a kid. I'm going to take my case of action figures and see how many I can get signed. I'm going to see if I can get Ron Simmons to sign it. Whoever is cool really.
I like to find out who the nice people in wrestling are. That's what I love about Starrcast and All Elite [Wrestling]. Sometimes it's hard to be a wrestling fan when you look at some of the choices they make ethically, things that they've done racially or sexually before. Meeting the Young Bucks before, meeting Cody before, these are all people I've met them and shook their hands. They can be monsters in the dark. I don't know. But as far as I know, these are all genuinely nice people. I think everyone should root for them to succeed.
Ron's full interview with Wrestling Inc aired as part of Wednesday's episode of our WINCLY podcast. It can be heard via the embedded player at the bottom of this post.
You can check out past episodes of the WINCLY here.