Mindy Tucker

YOU’D HAVE TO be a monster not to root for Ron Funches. Everything about the 33-year-old stand-up and actor—his toothy smile, his laconic voice, and a soft body that practically begs you to give it a squeeze—exudes the kind of warmth and affability that would make for a great sitcom dad or your favorite friend to get high and watch cartoons with.

That’s why, of all the folks who graduated from Portland’s comedy scene and moved on to Los Angeles, he’s the one you root for a little bit harder than the rest. Even when he’s found work in some less-than-stellar vehicles—like the doomed sitcom Undateable and the wretched Will Ferrell/Kevin Hart film Get Hard—Funches is the reason you still turn up for those. His personality and spirit make them instantly watchable.

While the writing and acting work continues to roll in for Funches, he’s finding his worldwide audience with his stand-up—and rightfully so. If you were lucky enough to watch his rise through the ranks here in town, it was apparent that he had something special to offer. Like the man himself, Funches’ material is silly and infectious and pokes gentle fun at himself and his strange view of the world at large.

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It’s also some of the most convivial comedy around, scoring huge points by simply assuming the intelligence of the audience. On his first stand-up album, The Funches of Us, there’s a quick moment when he recalls seeing a man on the bus with a tattoo on his neck that reads, “Fuck Linda.” After letting that image sink in, Funches goes right where you’d expect: “That guy hates Linda...” But he pivots: “Or... he has to remind himself...”—then pauses for a long time, letting the crowd catch up and anticipate the punchline—“...to be intimate with Linda.” So when he finally comes in with the kicker—“Either way, Linda could do better”—the audience has devolved into hysterics. How could you not love that?

Things are only looking better and better for Funches, too. He’s got a role on a new sitcom (the Vanessa Hudgens-starring, DC Comics-associated Powerless), a part in a forthcoming Bruce Willis film, and plenty of stand-up dates filling his calendar as you read this. He’s gearing up to soar into the stratosphere. Let’s try to get in one more hug before he takes off.