The comedian, writer and star of NBC's 'Powerless' is hooked on 'The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild'
If you watch TV, you've probably come across Ron Funches. He's been in everything from Portlandia to Adventure Time to regular guest spots on Chelsea Lately. He played Cooper in the recent animated hit Trolls and right now is starring in NBC's sitcom set in the DC Comics universe, Powerless. His 16-date Funch A Mania stand up tour starts on June 8 in Brooklyn, NY.
We talked to Funches about his first memories of gaming with the arcade classic Ms Pac-Man and how these days, he's a "walking Gamestop." He also explains why he's never without his Switch, and always keeps his HTC Vive on hand for painting and parties.
What was the first game you remember playing?
Probably Ms Pac-Man at the arcade. That's the first game I ever remember leaving an impact on me. I liked how fast it was, I liked chasing pellets and running away from ghosts. It nailed all my interests. I remember there being a Colecovision in the house and things like that, but the first thing I was really invested in was Super Mario Bros. 3. It's one of my favorite games of all time. I just loved wearing the suits. Loved wearing a frog suit, loved wearing a Tanooki Suit. It's one of the best made games ever. I think everybody knows that.
Did you stay loyal to Nintendo after that?
No, I didn't. After NES, I completely flipped over. I was a Sega guy for a long time. I'm [still] a Sega guy, I'd rather go with people who are trying hard even if they're in second. I had a Sega Genesis, a Sega Saturn... I didn't have another Nintendo system until the Wii. But I have my Switch now, which I love. I'm sure everyone is talking about Zelda right now, but it might be the best game ever made.
What is it about Zelda you're really loving?
I'm just loving that it's so so open and expansive and free but at the same time so detailed. Every little bit of it seems to have purpose and you don't really see a lot of that in open world games. You always seem to get one or the other, these worlds that are either empty and lifeless or more specific chunks that have a lot to do in them but you're more restricted. Sometimes, Nintendo games give you a different feeling than a lot of other games. I think they affect my brain differently. They give me more of a sense of exploration and being inquisitive. A lot of other games are [just] about twitch based reactions.
So are you getting obsessed with the cooking and the horses?
Oh, I'm making all kinds of different dishes! I love cooking, I love chasing horses down and naming horses, I love climbing towers, exploring – there's usually something there for you play with. It's like, "We knew you'd come over!" I really like how much thought and how much polish they've put into that game. I want to go back home and play it.
Tell me some of your horse names.
I have several horses but my favorites are Blueberry, who I love, and Moo. He looks like a cow. Or she, I'm not sure of their gender. Then there's Migos. But my favorite horse – because it was so hard and to get and pretty fast and wild – I named it Rowdy. after Rowdy Roddy Piper. And if it's a girl, it's named after Ronda Rousey. I guess I'll never know.
So are mainly playing your Switch at home or are you taking it with you when you're out?
Oh, I'm a walking Switch commercial. I play it at home, drop it in its little dock, take it on the road. I was just wrapping Powerless at NBC, and I would take it to set there, take it on the airplane – that Switch commercial is pretty much me now. I love it. And then at home, I have my PlayStation as well. I'm pretty much a walking Gamestop.
Nintendo games give you a different feeling than a lot of other games
So what's your set up at home? A nice TV, Switch, PlayStation...
Oh yeah, we're ready. We've got everything. We've got a pretty large 4K TV, we've got Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Switch, and my son still has the 360 and the PlayStation 3 in his room. Then we have a couple of VR things. I have a Vive and PSVR.
I was going to ask what you thought of virtual reality but you've gone all in with the Vive.
I've been interested for quite a while. I tried an Oculus dev kit a couple of years ago and tried Minecraft on it. The feeling that it gave me – when I dropped in the game, I could feel it in my stomach. It's fun, it's still very early – all the games seem to be very remedial, shooting gallery-type games. I'm very excited about the future of it, once they figure out how to cut the cords so you're not dragging a big tail around behind you. But I love it. I love walking around through my own paintings [in Tiltbrush]. So I play it a fair amount, when I have people over for a party we'll break it out.
Tiltbrush, the painting app, is one of my favorites, too. What VR experiences have made a strong impression?
I also really like... what was it's name, the one where you have to defuse the bomb?
Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes?
That's it. I think was my favorite because it involves a lot of people. It's a big hit at parties. That's probably my favorite, because it's not a scary one. I don't like being scared. I tried Resident Evil, but I managed three minutes. I can't handle Resident Evil not in VR.
How do you fit gaming in with your schedule and your family?
I just fit it in around my schedule. That's one of the great things about Switch is that I'm able to take it on the go and bring it home and it's still a console-quality game. I really, really like that. Otherwise, I have this little window after I get my son up in the morning around 6am, make his breakfast, get him off to school – there's a window before I have to go to work or work out where I can play some Zelda or Overwatch, depending on my mood. Then I play for about an hour before I go to bed.
Which Overwatch character do you usually play?
Oh, I'm D.Va. I'm all D.Va. I've got a few. I play as Soldier: 76, I play a little Mercy, I like healing people. But my favorite is D.Va, I've probably got about 60 hours in her, and then also Mei.
There are some big games coming up this year. What have you really got your eye on?
I've had my eye on Red Dead Redemption 2 for years. Red Dead Redemption is one of my favorite games of all time. That is a beautiful game that makes me feel violent and also peaceful. I know don't know how they do that. It's one of the most beautiful games I've ever played in my life. It made me feel like I was a tough cowboy.
I'm also a big Naughty Dog fan so I'm looking forward to The Last Of Us 2 and that Crash Bandicoot re-release.
This interview has been edited and condensed.