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Over the past two weeks, I’ve been spotlighting various black voices to learn as much as I can during these insane times My guest tonight is a very talented comedian and actor who has carved his own unique path through the entertainment industry He’s also one of the most loving fathers I know His new show Nice One will be premiering later this summer on Quibi, please welcome my really good friend Ron Funches Ron, good to see you Hey Coco, how you doing? How dare you call me Coco How dare, you know, disrespect me? (laughing) You know, we have so much to talk about Obviously, the last two weeks has been so many things, it’s been traumatic and upsetting and at times violent and there’s, I mean, I think what good is coming out of it is that there’s been a lot of discussion and we’ve been trying to do that here on the show One of the things I wanted to talk to you about is that when, when you saw what happened to George Floyd, I’m sure this brought up a lot of feelings about your own son, your son who has, you’ve worried about, you’ve told me in the past that you about your son and about your son’s autism, and that this has been a specific concern of yours for his safety out in the world Is that true? Yeah, absolutely It’s been a concern of mine for many years It’s one of my most motivating things in my life just that because of him being mixed race, meaning half black and half white and having autism and not being, you know, he’s just doesn’t follow directions as easily He doesn’t respond to directions as quickly as some people would like and I was always concerned that that if he was in an altercation with a police officer that that could mean the end of his life So it was something that was deeply concerned to the point where, you know, I didn’t necessarily like him out of my sight that much, I didn’t and a lot of my motivation was trying to insulate that with money Being like, Okay, if we can surround him in a good neighborhood, if we can surround him with a nanny that’s there, even though he’s 17 years old, we have a full time nanny just to make sure that someone is with him and it’s not because he’s not independent, he’s very independent it’s a lot to do with my fear about what could happen with misunderstandings with others, especially people like the police or people with power Yeah, and you know I was talking yesterday to the mayor of Saint Paul, Minnesota and we were talking about this concept that maybe in some situations you don’t, it shouldn’t be automatic that the police are called, that it might be some sort of health workers that are called for some situations so that response is a little more nuanced and that’s something you’ve thought about with your son, which is, you know, you don’t necessarily want the police showing up if you’re having an issue with your son No, and that that really says a lot right there that if you are in a bad situation, if you’re, if things are feeling out of control, like you don’t want the police because the fear is that they will escalate the situation Their job is usually to just try to get the peace and order as quick as possible and if that means removing a situation, if that means they have to shoot someone, it seems like that is a quicker option to them then trying to figure out what the problem is, trying to be empathetic to what the problem is It’s something I dealt with when my son was was younger, when he was five, six, seven years old and he would be overwhelmed by different stimulus, he would have these big tantrums and it would involve people calling the police to my house and I was lucky that it never escalated but it did end up with like, you know, no one ever came over and say, hey, what can we do to help? What was the issue? What’s was going on? Instead, they would come over, they would tell us to shut it down and shut him up and then they would call Child Services and then we’d have to deal with that It was always like, you’re a bad parent or you don’t know what you’re doing as opposed to, you need help and I think that’s something where health services and people trained in that can be much more helpful especially dealing with anyone with any type of mental diversity or disability, you don’t want someone who’s not familiar with that coming into the situation I believe that your son Malcolm is named after Malcolm X, is that right? Yes, that is correct It’s interesting because when I Look at the actual footage

of Malcolm X, he’s the most one of the most charismatic person that people I’ve ever seen captured in documentary footage He’s got that same thing that Muhammad Ali had where he can just, he’s such a powerful presence and He can rapture you Yeah, exactly when did you, I mean, obviously if you named your son Malcolm must have been an important figure to you, is this your whole life? It started probably around when I was 11, 12 years old while I was still getting ready to leave Chicago One of the best things that my school ever did for me was take me to go see the autobiography of Malcolm X when it was starring Denzel Washington and that kind of started my infatuation with him and then I read his autobiography and then I started to read more speeches that he had done and then it became clear to me that like this was a guy who had become marginalized by history as just like just black separatists that all his stuff was about, like, you know, separating black people from white people and that was then, that was not the truth It was all about black love and pride and a lot of it was just about power and oppression and unionizing and healthcare He talks about a lot of things about unionizing and healthcare that are still needed to this day, that we don’t deal with and I think it’s so funny that people go back and they glorify rightfully so Martin Luther King, but they also whitewash his history He was not as, he was more militant than people think and Malcolm X was less militant than people think They both just talked about, they were like two sides of a coin that were headed to the same direction and I think, you know, now they they invoke Martin Luther King’s name to kind of pacify us, to kind of say your supposed to just march and speech and you know that Martin Luther did and if you don’t do that, you’re disrespecting Martin Luther King and it’s just like, I don’t wanna hear that from when he was on the FBI most wanted list, when he was murdered by our government, when those are things that now they celebrate him when they did this damnedest to discredit him just, to say that he was a womanizer and to kill him, and then now, you know, they’re trying to tell another story Right, one of the things that, you know, I don’t think I was unaware of this but what I’m hearing again and again from friends of mine is, who are black is that they’ve, they say that they experienced racism sometimes, but it’s almost at a frequency that their white friends don’t pick up on it but black people pick up on it And that’s something that you’re quite familiar with, you’ll be in a situation where something might happen and you’ll feel Wait a minute, that didn’t feel right to me but your white friends who you think are pretty woke, don’t hear it Is that true? Yeah, it is true, it’s seems to be just operation How do I put it? Do you think that you have to prove it to them, but if they don’t see it firsthand, if it’s not someone calling you the N word, if it’s not someone throwing you to the ground, I think that’s what made the George Floyd situation so unavoidable that you could look at it directly and you see the smugness, you see the lack of empathy you see the fact that he has his knee on the back of a person’s neck, which is not needed for any situation, so you can avoid it But a lot of the things you can avoid, a lot of the things that people would come to me and like, maybe you misheard or maybe you just picked up the wrong tone or maybe you had a bad day and I’ve been lucky that like my best friend, my friend Gabe who features for me, he’s been more open to it and it’s probably because he had a black stepdad for a while, he had black members in his family and I remember recently we were traveling, and we just stopped in this airport for coffee and then the guy was giving out coffee to people and my friend was before me and he talks to my friend, he’s like hey good morning, how’s everything going? How’s your day? Where are you headed to? And he gets to me and he doesn’t say a word to me He just, I just order he gives me my coffee and he shuts completely down and then the next person that comes by is the white lady and he’s back to the same and so then I was like, Oh Okay, I get it and then I was fortunate at that time that my friend was there to look over and go, that guy’s a he’s a freak racist and sometimes that’s what you need, it’s not necessarily that that ruined my day or I cared that much about that coffee I have learn to this situation of like,

I’m just passing through, if that’s how he’s living he’s having a horrible day and he’s racist then that’s where he belongs, just serving coffee out in the middle of nowhere I’m passing through But what sometimes that we need is just validation, just knowing that, hey, even if you didn’t see it, even if you don’t wanna believe it, it happens and you gotta take people’s word for it I think that’s the thing that I’ve been seeing the most is that, like, the African American community is the only group that has to prove that they didn’t deserve to die, you know, that we have to explain why, what did he do? Why you get something? Well, George Floyd had a record, he did this 2007, he did this 2009, it’s like, there’s no other race there’s no other group that you’d have to explain why you don’t deserve to be murdered Yeah, yeah You and I went on the tour a year ago, a little over a year ago, and we spent a lot of time together and so was there anything that happened while we were on that tour together that that made you feel at all strange or feel marginalized while we were on the road together or on different tours? I have done some different tours definitely, I wouldn’t say there was any event that happened on our tour I would say the only thing that I was aware of is that I had this mindset that if I strayed too far from the group that some people might be like, what are you doing? Why are you like, why are you trying to get into this? Like, are you like trying to rob them or are you trying like, you don’t belong here basically Wait, why did you feel this is? It’s a feeling that I carried, that I should not get too far from the group, that I should had to show them that I was with you Right It is because if I felt that if I was alone, they’d go why are you in this fancy hotel? Why are you here? What are you doing here? And that happens to me more on like, because I love to travel, I love to vacation and that’s happened to me several times on vacation or several times in my stores where I would, I used to do this thing that if they treat me poorly, I’d buy more stuff so that I proved to them you were wrong and now I was like no, I’m just not gonna make sure you just don’t get that commission, you know (laughing) So what you’re saying is in order to prove that you were there with good intent, you would like buy a canoe even if you didn’t want a canoe? (laughing) Yes I think its the canoe (laughing) That’s the strangest response to feeling marginalized (laughing) It’s not you see it a lot of time, it’s called peacocking Is it something that is happens in the black community where you see a lot of like, fancy cars, fancy clothes, because this is a showcase of like, hey, you shouldn’t treat me poorly, instead of it being like I’m a human so you shouldn’t treat me poorly You know, that’s one of the biggest lessons I learned as a young black man is that I thought, for some strange dumb reason I thought like, if I get a little bit of money then they’ll stop treating me like this and then I learned that that wasn’t the case (laughing) So you’ll be on it, I mean, you’ve done very well, you’ll be on a vacation, you’ll be staying in a nice place and you’ll sometimes sense that people are wondering, how is he here? What’s he doing here? Is he a guest of this hotel? I’ve had it happen, I’ve had a bellhop tried to stop me from entering my own hotel room Because I went outside for a jog and I come back in my shorts, and I’m sweaty and he’s just like, hey, what are you doing here? What are you doing here? And then I have headphones on so I’m not even paying attention, so I just go walking by and he starts following me and yelling at me like, Who are you? What are you doing here? So I just turn around and I show him my key card and then I flip them off (laughing) That was into that Right, right I’m glad I’m glad you had the correct response, I mean you were able to do that There’s this belief some people have that racism is, that it’s a generational aspect to racism that it’s worse with older generations but as we move on and people get younger and newer generations come along, it’s getting better That is not always been your experience, right? No, not always, I mean I do believe that there is always progress and it’s I think the more that we become culturally mixed the more that these kids have grown up off of hip hop and and seeing black people in positions of power and representation, the better it gets But no, I know plenty you turn on a game of Call of Duty, you turn on any video game and it’s not your grandpa calling me the N word you know, it’s a 12 year old kid, it’s a 13 year old kid and you see it at these Trump camp rallies,

they’re not 80 year old people Right, right They’re 20 year old white men who have found a way to make themselves feel disenfranchised, and make themselves feel like the victim and use that national that white pride and that racism to fuel themselves So to me, that’s one of the biggest disservice we do as a community is going, well we just need to wait 10, 20 years for our grandparents to die Right, right And it’s like, well, we’ve been waiting 100 years for that and so those grandparents, teach the kids and teach the grandkids and you got to look within yourself, it’s not just about your parents You have a very unique comedic voice and style and it’s something I’ve always really admired about you and yet at the same time, I’m imagining it’s been a struggle for you to not get typecast because of the color of your skin Yeah, absolutely, absolutely I knew that from very first when I went to Montreal when I was a new face gentleman, Brandon Johnson, who was a great African American comedian, and an actor came up to me and he was like, I saw your set, he’s like, you’re weird and you’re black, your role is gonna be different and longer and strange but keep being you, don’t ever change for these people and I’ve always kept that and it’s been a source of anger and frustration for me that my comedy is built off of love, is built off of empathy, is built out of optimism, it’s built off of making the best of a bad situation and a lot of times the roles that are offered to me are that of a gang member, or that of a guy fresh out of jail, or that of a guy where I have to change the way I speak, to speak more urban to, to fit into a role that they want me to fit into and I just don’t feel that that’s fair, especially in this time period, you know, we still representation i think is one of the biggest things, laws are gonna be very important just not police brutality obviously is the step, is a great step but representation and being willing to show different facets of the black community is something that we still struggle with every day, every pilot season, I get just more and more sitcoms where either it’s a struggle role of a black guy lifting themselves out of poverty, or it’s clearly a white roll that they’re trying to shoehorn some diversity into and there’s just multiple black stories and multiple types of way that people can be viewed in the community and that’s something I try to write towards, and try to create because I don’t like the roles that I’m offered, basically I know that you’ve been on my show many times, always been hilarious You did stand up on my show once and I know there was a joke you wanted to to do or that you were planning to do, and the joke involved you using the N word, and I don’t think I was aware of this at the time but one of our producers said, well, you can’t say that word on Turner Broadcasting So we were in the position of being white and telling you you can’t use the N word, which was just sort of a weird situation Was that something that bothered you when that happened? Of course it bothered me a little bit but it wasn’t something that I didn’t expect, you know, I was like let me attempt to do this joke because I love it and again, I think it shows my style of someone who looks at for the positive in every negative situation But I didn’t expect you guys to let me say N word on TV, so I wasn’t mad about it but I you know, when you look at it you go like this is just a weirder form of oppression where there’s a guilt about this word that, you know, that we’ve taken as the black community to as a source of empowerment for us and then they go like okay, well now that you guys don’t hate it as much you can’t say it (laughing) Can I hear the joke or wait? Can we hear the joke now? Yeah, I can tell you I mean, I don’t remember is 100% because it was years ago, but I remember the event It was just about the time I was gonna go get my son, Papa Murphy’s Take ‘N’ Bake pizza, where he was walking across my apartment across this two lane, big street that we had and as I was growing across the street, I hear this guy yell, hey, use the crosswalk N word and it pissed me off because I was like man, like there’s so much racism in the world, everybody’s full of hatred I’m just trying to get my son a pizza But then I thought, Oh yeah, he’s in a car, maybe I just didn’t hear the rest of the conversation He and what he was trying to say was, use the crosswalk nigga I’m worried about your own safety You know like okay (laughing)

That’s a really good joke (laughing) You’re always able to see the silver lining I guess, huh? Yes, I try (laughing) He’s worried about my safety (laughing) You know, we’ve hung out a lot, we spend a lot of time together, we’ve been in vans, we’ve been on planes, we’ve been backstage I’m trying to figure out as best I can, how I can, you know, how I can learn and how I can grow and evolve and so if you have advice for me, I’ll take it Sure, I was thinking about this last night cause I think a lot of people, alright, are in your position a lot of white people are at a position where they’re, this is new to them (laughing) Which is hilarious to us but I appreciate you trying to look in, but I think a lot of it is like, look don’t be so egotistical it’s not about you, it’s about us, it’s about the things that we’re going through and the fact that you can be listening and open to that is great But I thought I did a little bit more thinking and I thought the best thing I could tell you is just be an active ally, be if you see, you’re in a privileged position that sometimes white people will reveal their racism to you because you’re white and they don’t think that you might have an issue with it or they might feel more comfortable with revealing their true selves to you as opposed to me you know, and I think if you are in that position and you see that to never let that go To never always check people if they are in that position and you see them acting out alone, you know, or treating someone poorly to never let them know that that is okay That is the thing that is the best thing that you can do Okay, okay, I have had the experience over the years of African Americans,Black people whenever I see them in their familiar with my show they always say the same thing, you’re crazy (laughing) Yeah, Black people love you for as white and lily white is you are you are loved in the Black community I think it’s because you are so awkwardly tall and look like an outcast yourself (laughing) I always say the same thing, they start laughing and they say you’re crazy, you’re crazy Yes That always and actually, it’s a nice way to start the conversation You know which works out? Well, I really appreciate you coming on the show and having this conversation with me and I want to apologize again, when we were on tour, singing songs towards you with my acoustic guitar when I think I knew it drove you crazy (laughing) Literally love to be like (laughs) it’s me at my absolute whitest which is so white and I would see you and I’d be like, I’m gonna do it again and you were very vocal about it (laughs) And you considered it a unique form of torture (laughing) Well, yeah about this what I love about our relationship is that I can say, I can tell you that, I can say it That’s what? You didn’t just tell me that, you then went out in front of, I don’t know, 3000 people in a giant venue and you told them the most horrible thing just happened to me when I was backstage playing this guitar (laughing) You made fun of me brutally in front of all these people and I loved it, it was absolutely hilarious and I had to comment It needed to be, you know, I figured if it happened to me that much it must happen to your staff all the time So I needed to stand up for them (laughing) You did the right thing, you did the right thing Well, thank you so much for doing this, I love you, I can’t wait till we get to hang out in person and thank you so much for doing this today You’re a good man, thank you I love you too, I appreciate you doing this This is a great thing that you’re doing and I think I like that you’re looking into yourself, but you’ve always, you’ve done a great job, you’ve hired a lot of diversity and the fact that you had Deon Cole on your show when I was a young man, it meant a lot to me as a young Black comedian, because it was one of the few guys where I was like, this is not he’s not doing a stereotype, he’s not doing a stick He’s a weird Black dude doing himself and you gave him a platform to show that and then in turn that empowered me Yeah, he’s such a funny guy and you’re such a funny guy and well, I’ll see you soon, I promise you’ll never hear me sing again (laughs)

Please (laughing) See, if all I do is, if I can grow that much I can grow more All right, thank you very much Ron and I’ll talk to you soon

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