Comedian, actor, and dedicated wrestling fan Ron Funches hosts his first-ever Comedy Central special, “Giggle Fit”, this Friday.
Funches is thrilled for his special to debut on the same day as New Japan’s Wrestle Kingdom 13. He spoke with Sports Illustrated about “Giggle Fit”, a guest appearance from the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, and Wrestle Kingdom.
Justin Barrasso: Your upcoming comedy special opens with a wrestling-inspired entrance and even includes a guest spot from Ric Flair. It airs this Friday, which is also the day of New Japan’s Wrestle Kingdom 13. Did you plan the timing, or was it merely serendipity?
Ronald Funches: It was a happy accident, that’s for sure. I knew my set was going to be in January, but I was actually planning on going to Wrestle Kingdom at the Tokyo Dome. But once I found out that my special was coming out on January 4, I thought, ‘I guess I should be in the states to promote it!’
This is best-case scenario. Ric Flair is already in the special, there is already a lot of wrestling in it, and I’ll be watching Wrestle Kingdom anyway. To me, this just means we’re set up for success. It’s already one of my favorite days of the year.
JB: In terms of creating a comedy special, between writing, planning the presentation and performance, how much time have you committed to the project?
RF: It was about a two-year process. I decided I wanted to do a one-hour special, and I really focused on stand-up. I spent a year getting the material together, then another year honing it and taking it all around the country. Once I thought it was sharpened, we pitched it to different networks, and Comedy Central came in with the best offer, so we went with them.
JB: The crossover between wrestling and comedy is an integral part of your work. Taking us behind the curtain, how did you get Ric Flair involved with your special?
RF: I’m a die-hard wrestling fan, and I’ve been that way since I was 5. I go to the independents and listen to the podcasts, and through that I became friends with a gentleman by the name of Conrad Thompson. He hosts three of the best wrestling podcasts out there right now, and he’s also married to Ric Flair’s daughter. I pitched the idea to Conrad, he got a hold of Ric, and I then talked to Ric.
When I pitched the idea to Ric, he was straight up and told me, ‘I’m very, very busy. You’d be surprised, but a couple comedians already asked me to open for them but I told them no. But I met you last year at WrestleMania, and you were so respectful, and I’d love to do it for you.’ And it was that easy.
JB: What else will wrestling fans be surprised to know about your special?
RF: Well, the special is so good that even The Rock tweeted about it. That’s the biggest deal in my life. I also talk a lot about my own life. In the last two years, I’ve lost 140 pounds, so there is some material about that journey and what it’s been like for me. Then some stuff about my favorite reality shows, like The Great British Bake Off and a show I grew up loving in Wishbone.
So if you’re a fan of The Rock, Ric Flair, Great British Bake Off, Wishbone, or people who lose 140 pounds, then it’s a great special for you.
JB: You have a myriad of interests, including acting, comedy, and podcasting. Is it a big part of your message following your passions?
RF: For me, it’s what keeps me happy. I follow my creative passions. The biggest deal is just being yourself and doing the things that make you happy.
JB: To apply a wrestling term to comedy, is it fair to describe you as a babyface in the world of standup comedy?
RF: I am! There aren’t too many pure babies left, but that’s what makes this fun. I decided a long time ago that I was going to talk about wrestling, video games, and comic books. Sometimes, people really relate, but sometimes they don’t. I learned early on that I need to write about things that I love and enjoy, instead of focusing on something I dislike. When I’m performing, I have to talk about these things every single night. I’d rather talk about something I like. So I’d rather talk about The Rock than our current president, that’s for sure.
The great part about the special is you can find out who I am as a person. This is an hour of me really introducing what my comedy is about and who I am. So you get the wrestling, you learn about what I love, and you also learn about my son and how I’m a single father of a kid with autism. None of these things are played to be sad, but it’s highlighting the funny parts.
I put a lot of work into it, and I hope people dig it.
Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.