Actor and comedian Ron Funches had a recent cameo on “AP Bio,” a sitcom on NBC. The scene: He was playing the role of a janitor. The script called on him to hit on a teacher, who was going to turn him down.
The directors called “cut.” They huddled. They came back to Funches and said: “Hey, can you hold this plunger? We’re watching this and can’t see why she would turn you down.”
It was an ah-ha moment for Funches, who has lost 140 pounds over the course of two years.
“I was like ‘Oh, no one would have said that when I was 360 pounds,’” Funches said during a recent interview with The Sporkful, a food-centric podcast.
In the candid conversation with host Dan Pashman, Funches talks about how his weight loss has changed how he is perceived in Hollywood as well as the reactions from friends who he realizes could never see past his weight.
What Motivated Funches To Lose Weight
Funches, who released a new stand-up comedy special, “Giggle Fit,” earlier this year, said “aesthetics” helped motivate his weight loss. But, on a more serious note, he had some major health concerns that spurred his transformation.
“I was going to die,” he told Pashman.
When he weighed 360 pounds, he wasn’t breathing normally. His knees were hurting. He had sleep apnea. People who cared about him were worried about the obesity-related health problems he was suffering.
Beyond health, though, Funches realized that he was being typecast in Hollywood. His weight was limiting the types of jobs available to him — he was being offered roles like “homeless man” or “gang member.”
Funches began working with a personal trainer and exercising six days a week. He radically changed the way he ate, eliminating the burgers, steaks and fried chicken from his day-to-day diet and embracing grilled chicken and asparagus. In the episode, Funches told Pashman that he likes his oatmeal with a dash of cinnamon some raisins, with almond butter mixed in, which sounds like a far cry from the types of meals Funches used to eat.
Funches also said his girlfriend helped him understand why he had struggled with weight. He’s not good when it comes to moderation, he said.
“It’s one of the reasons I’m good at comedy,” Funches said. “Anything that I love, I usually take to the hilt.”
Understanding that about himself has perhaps been key to his weight loss. He said that while his friends can indulge in pizza and go on and off their diets, “I’m not the type of dude who can have secret pizza, because I can’t stop,” Funches said.
But, with that said, he recognizes that he can go to extremes and is careful that dieting doesn’t turn into an eating disorder.
How Weight Loss Affected His Acting And Comedy Career
During the podcast, Funches recalls a time when he had a role on “New Girl.” Despite excelling in comedy for a decade, his part simply required taking off his shirt and gyrating.
“That didn’t make me feel good,” he said.
In the Sporkful interview, Funches and Pashman discussed how fat people are often cast in roles so that their appearance is what’s intended to be funny — and that’s mean-spirited.
Funches explains that he’s more of an “everyman type of guy.”
“People are rooting for me. I have to show them who I am. I’m not a gang member. I’m a leading man,” said Funches, who has had roles on shows like “Undateable,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and did voice work for “Trolls.”
Now, he’s starting to get those types of roles — and when the script has him making out with a woman, it’s not a joke.
How Weight Loss Has Changed His Friendships
Funches also delved into how his friends reacted to his weight loss. Some have been super supportive he said. But others, he’s learned, have had a hard time seeing beyond his weight.
After getting down to 220 pounds, some people would be flabbergasted and say things like “Wow! I didn’t even know it was you,” he said. To him, that meant that they could never see beyond his weight.
Others, he said, point out that he’s not as fun as he was when he was overweight. In a comedy routine, Funches relayed some of the reactions he’s gotten: “You used to be fun. Just eating cheesesteaks and sweating all the time. We miss that guy. Now all you want to do is eat oatmeal and workout. Ugh. You should be fun again.”
The takeaway, he said, is that you can learn a lot about people when you change your appearance.
“I learned who my real friends are and who will treat me the same no matter what,” Funches said. “I think that’s valuable information.”