The enterprising and lovable Ron Funches says he pitched his own character to play on the new NBC series Powerless, billed as the first comedy set in the DC Comics world. The show stars Vanessa Hudgens and the staff (played by Danny Pudi, Alan Tudyk, Christina Kirk, and Jennie Pierson) of an insurance company specializing in products to protect defenseless bystanders from the collateral damage of Superheroes and Supervillains. Much like the real Ron Funches, the character of Ron the IT guy on Powerless is a perpetually cheerful and optimistic sunbeam, shining through a sea of cynics. Funches took the time to talk with me about superpowers, hoop dreams, and goop.
What has been your favorite part so far of working on Powerless?
The money. The money is my favorite part. It’s like you show up, you do stuff, and then they give it to you at the end of the week. It’s like, what?!
Yeah, that does sound pretty great.
Other than that, I’d say the regular sappy stuff – which is that I like working with Danny Pudi so much, he’s my new buddy and we like to play. But the whole cast is great and there’s lots of special effects. There’s lots of goop and fire. I just thought I’d tell jokes and stuff, I didn’t know there would be fire.
Have there been any memorable behind the scenes moments?
There was this one time that we were supposed to stand in front of these vats of goop and I thought it was just a plexiglass thing with lights underneath it so that it would just be glowing. But then it just starts pouring goop from the sky! It was like I was on a Nickelodeon game show. I didn’t expect it to be real goop!
Was it cold?
It was cold and it was slippery and apparently you could eat it, but I didn’t try.
Do you ever hang out with the cast after shooting?
No, because it’s long. We’re there like 12-14 hour days, so we give each other our own space. I’m gonna go see the boys today because they’re promoting stuff on @Midnight. But other than that, everybody has their own things and they’re busy. But Alan [Tudyk] brought us all gifts when he came back from the holidays.
What did he bring you?
A marijuana pipe.
That’s very generous of him.
Well, it just shows that he knows me!
Did you do any research to prepare for your character of the IT guy?
No, the best part about my role is that I kind of pitched it to them. I met with the producers and they were looking to add another cast member, so I pitched them the idea of what my place in that world would be. Just a character who was very excited and genuine and happy-to-be-alive type of guy in a world where people are a little more jaded. So I pitched them that and then all I had to do was read a bunch of comic books which I would have done anyway, and go to acting class like normal.
What kind of comics do you read?
I read a lot of Teen Titans, I read some Batman, I read some Green Lantern, and I read this one called Kill or Be Killed, but it’s more for adults.
Did your son watch the show? What did he think?
He hated it.
No, he loved it! He thought it was fun, silly. He loves comic book stuff so he was really into that, he likes watching his daddy acting and now he knows where I go all day.
How fun is that!
It’s really fun. It’s nice to have a project that you can show your kid and be comfortable with it. Some of the things I do are a little bit more risque and blue, so it’s nice to have something for all ages that I can show him.
If you could have any superpower what would it be and why?
Alright, no problem, let’s do this right now. It would be a mixture of super strength and flight and maybe a little bit of agility, but I would not fight crime at all. I would join the NBA and be a seven-time all-star and probably be living a great life and nobody would ever know that I had super powers. That would be my plan. I’d just be dunking on people. I think that would probably be the greatest feeling in the world. Better than saving someone’s life would be dunking in someone’s face.
What team would you play for?
I’d play for the Bulls. But I’m not in charge of the draft. If another team drafts me that’s okay.
You’re from Chicago and did comedy in Portland. Now you live in LA. How do you like it?
I love it. I go out and audition for things and often fail, but sometimes you get it.
Are there any greater lessons to take away from Powerless?
Yeah, I think it’s a show about learning how to survive and get by when you think that you’re not in charge of things. When there are these larger things which are affecting your life, which I know is how a lot of people are feeling lately. There are lots of things you don’t have control over, but you have control over what you do and your individual actions and you don’t need someone to save you, you can save yourself. You have your friends and if you’re feeling blue, that’s who you turn to. Everybody has their own super power in their own special way.
Definitely a relevant lesson for today. What else is coming up for you?
I’m writing a cartoon for Seeso, a digital network, about a world where pro-wrestling is real in 1980s America. And I’m working on some standup. Just writing and working.
Living the dream.
I sure think so.