If you’re casting voice talent for a cartoon, Ron Funches is probably a no-brainer. With his endless positivity and sing-song voice, the comedian already sometimes feels like a cartoon character come to life. So it’s not a surprise that he’s one of the stars of Home: Adventures with Tip & Oh, the new Netflix cartoon that spins out of Dreamworks’ 2015 film Home. Paste recently talked to Funches about the show, his voice-over work and the right age to watch cartoons. (Hint: It’s every age.)
Paste: So you weren’t in Home.
Ron Funches: No, not at all. I’m a new cast member, just for the series. My character is Sharzod. He’s kind of sassy. He’s not a princess but he considers himself a princess. And it’s a chance for me to be real sassy and loud and fun and confident, so I like it.
Paste: So you’re not taking over Rihanna’s character?
Ron Funches: I tried out for it. They went with Rachel [Crow]. She’s great. She sings much better than I can, and is super cute, so she won out. I’m okay with it.
Paste: I know you’ve done a lot of voice-over work in the past. What do you like as a performer about VO work?
Ron Funches: I like that it gives me a chance to play all different types of characters. Non-humans and things of that nature. It’s really fun for me. Also some of my comedy and some of the other live action stuff I do is a little bit more adult, and I have a 13 year old son, and I like to be able to have things he can watch and enjoy. He gets a real big kick out of seeing me in things like Adventure Time, or a little bit of the prework on this and the Trolls movie. It makes me happy to take him to things that he can watch and enjoy.
Paste: You have a really distinctive voice. When animation directors hire you do they usually ask for the Ron Funches voice or let you play around with it?
Ron Funches: When I first started they’d try to make me do different voices because they didn’t really know who I was. But now if I get the job they know my voice is kind of distinctive and weird. Sometimes we’ll play with different energy levels. That’s what I like about Sharzod, is that it’s me at my most excited and loud and things that I don’t normally do in my day to day life. But it’s just my voice. I can’t mimic anyone. I just use my skills and add different jokes and improvise a little bit, which I also like about it. They’re very supportive of me adding my own little spins to thing, and it makes it more fun to work.
Paste: So they let you bring your own humor in, riff and stuff when you’re recording dialogue?
Ron Funches: I can’t really go off and go on and on because it would cost a lot of money for them to redraw things, but they let me go in and change some lines and add some things and that’s why I usually get hired for these things. They know this is what I like to do, that’s my skill-set. As long as they support me in that, that’s what I’m all about. Some places hire you and they just want you to do exactly what they want but I’ve found that the producers on Home are into just making the funniest, best cartoon that they can. It’s been really fun to work with them.
Paste: Is it ever hard to keep in mind that this is a kid’s show when you are improvising in the studio?
Ron Funches: Sometimes! A little bit. There are definitely some takes that are just for them. For the most part I just stay in character and play off whatever’s going on in the scene. There’s nothing going on that’s going to be too adult. And it’s just fun to play with those restraints some times and make up your own little new words.
Paste: You mentioned your son earlier and how it’s fun to do stuff he can watch. Do you keep a good tight lid on what he’s able to watch at home?
Ron Funches: I do but it’s more about his interests as well. He’s never really been interested in anything too gory or adult. And I myself mostly just watch a bunch of cartoons anyway, like Avatar: The Last Airbender and Teen Titans. We watch a lot of cartoons in our house. We just keep it nice and friendly and let a kid be a kid. There’s enough time to be an adult, especially in this day and age. There’s a lot of bad things going on so sometimes it’s nice to have a little moment where we just watch cartoons and relax and laugh. That’s what this show is really good at, as well. Sometimes people are in a rush to be an adult, but I’m a strong proponent of holding onto your childhood at least until your early 40s or 50s.