Anytime I’ve mentioned Ron Funches to someone, the reaction is immediate. People light up at the mere mention of his name, and giggle just thinking about him. To say Ron is loveable is an understatement, and his unique style of comedy has landed him a number of television and film gigs in the last few years. You may know him as Shelly on Undateable, as a writer and actor on Kroll Show, or as the winningest contestant on the Comedy Central show @midnight. Regardless of where you know him from now, Ron started out like many comics—doing stand-up. When he’s not shooting, he still performs regularly, and draws an enthusiastic crowd along the way.
Ron and I planned a quick interview and lunch meet-up in Los Angeles at Larchmont Wine, Spirits & Cheese. We ended up meeting at his place, but I picked him up his favorite sandwich (a #4 no cheese with tapenade, pictured) and we talked about touring, his favorite spots to eat, and what it’s like to diet on the road.
Paste: What cities do you look forward to visiting and eating in?
Ron Funches: I look forward to going to Chicago because it’s where I grew up, and the food there is so munch. Especially during the winter, I get deep dish pizza or Italian beef and it warms me up. It’s something I don’t normally get, especially here in LA where you’re always trying to be healthy. Well, now I’m always trying to be healthy so that sucks. If you had called me for this interview a couple of months ago we’d be havin’ a party. But now I can just tell you about how I travel with different oatmeals.
Paste: You’re on a diet? Is that hard when you’re touring?
RF: Trying to maintain your health on the road can be difficult. Especially in the middle of the country where they close by 9 and you’re not out of work until midnight. You end up at a McDonald’s or Taco Bell. But for me lately, I’ve been just trying not to eat after 9, and I have a pretty strict diet except for the weekends. So it’s mostly about whenever I pull into a city, I have them take me to Whole Foods or whatever the equivalent is so I can get me some yogurt and berries and sandwich stuff.
Paste: So do you mostly make your own food on the road now?
RF: Yes, mostly. And in life! I’ve never really cooked before, but now I’m sautéing a lot of things, which is fun to say and fun to do. I just sauté all day. Which is a new shirt that I’m making.
Paste: I love that.
RF: I do too! Now I want it.
Paste: What are you sautéing at home?
RF: I’m sautéing asparagus, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, some boneless, skinless chicken breast, some halibut. That’s about it, that’s all I’m allowed. That’s what’s legal for me to sauté.
My breakfast is usually some oatmeal and berries and some agave, or a protein shake. Lunch is either this sandwich or a tiny burrito. I wish it was bigger. Dinner is either a stir fry or fish or chicken. It’s very boring, it’s a struggle [laughs]. But I can still have things on the weekend. It is fun because I look forward to things. Like tomorrow, we’re going to watch some wrestling and have Roscoe’s. So it’s going to be a really fun day.
Paste: That’s good that you can still have fun on the weekend.
RF: That’s when I go out and get that Roscoe’s! But I try to go to nice places, you know Larsen’s [Steakhouse]. They have a really nice mac and cheese with bacon and heirloom tomatoes in it. It makes you have a vision quest. You just get sleepy and you start seeing things. It’s really good.
Now, when I can eat what I want, I don’t go to McDonald’s or Burger King. I go somewhere good and get a nice steak or… sometimes I want chicken and waffles! I want to experience the best of foods, just simple things. Quality meats like this sandwich, which is way better than other places. Just go the extra mile. I’ve never understood people who are like “I like Little Caesar’s.” Really? You can spend two more dollars.
Paste: What are your other favorite LA spots?
RF: I like the Oinkster. I like when they switch up their burgers. I can’t wait for burger month. Fusion Burger, A-Frame, Katsuya. Cafe 50’s—it’s right next to an arcade. That’s a fun date. You get a milkshake and some fries and go play some pinball. Milkshakes are like my favorite. I love The Griddle, with the giant pancakes. But I just get one. I didn’t know that you could order just one until I went a few times, I thought you always had to order a stack! I like the one with Frosted Flakes and strawberries.
Paste: Let’s talk more about touring. What do you eat when you’re in Chicago?
RF: I love Al’s Italian Beef. When I was a kid we would always get these thin pizzas. It was always so greasy that you would see the grease on both sides of the box, from a place called Italian Fiesta. I always loved that. You would just fold them up, it was like eating little playing cards of pizza.
I went to a place called Moto last time I went, which is on the opposite side of the scale. It’s a gastropub where they bring you out an eight course thing. I’d never done that before, and I really liked that. I ate moss, that was fun. Candied moss.
Paste: Any other favorite cities to visit on tour?
RF: Portland has really good food too, that’s where I started doing comedy. I like hot wings. There’s this place called Fire on the Mountain, and they have the best hot wings. They have this chicken sandwich that’s buffalo with thick bacon and bleu cheese that’s so good.
There’s a place in Portland called Big Ass Sandwiches. They make fun homemade sandwiches and stuff them with fries and a bechamel cream sauce. They love comedy and music, so they did a sandwich for me and for my friend Ian Karmel and others.
Paste: What was your sandwich?
RF: My favorite is a Philly cheesesteak, so mine was a cheesesteak that had onion rings stuffed in it too. It was really good.
Paste: Not everyone can say they’ve had a sandwich named after them.
RF: I know! It was a big deal. I wish it was permanent, it was only a week. I feel like right now when you’re really famous you get food named after you or a strain of pot. Or a toy. I want all three!
Paste: What did you like to eat when you used to go on tour, pre-diet?
RF: Oh, just whatever local fast food cuisine would provide me. If there was a fast food restaurant I had not tried, that’s where I wanted to go. I like Checkers in the Midwest, they have fun fries. I like White Castle, even though it never made me feel good when I left. I just like food, which is why I’m now on this diet.
Paste: Are you on your diet indefinitely?
RF: No way! I have a target I’m trying to hit, so it’s motivating me right now. I’ll try to maintain that, so I’m sure I’ll eat healthier than I did. Right now I’m just under maintenance, like a little theme park under construction.
Laurel Randolph is a food and lifestyle writer hailing from Tennessee and living in Los Angeles. She enjoys cooking, baking and candlestick making. Tweet at her face: @laurelrandy.