Comedian Ron Funches loves weed.
That’s fairly obvious to anyone who’s seen his standup—see his bit about getting high and visiting museums while on European vacation.
And now, thanks to Discovery+, the formerly Portland-based comic and actor gets to put weed on his résumé. Funches is the new host of the streaming service’s Chopped 420, a cooking competition show where one of the main ingredients is cannabis.
Willamette Week spoke to Funches about weed-infused cuisine, working with world-class chefs, and recently setting off a social media firestorm by tweeting that OutKast is better than the Beatles.
WW: Tell me about the show.
Ron Funches: It’s a dream come true for me. It’s Chopped, which is a tentpole show—50 seasons. Ted Allen, legendary host. Appetizer, entree, dessert, $10,000 on the line, mystery ingredients. And now they’ve added cannabis and a very hilarious gentleman named me.
What is the food like?
People cook infused, wonderful dishes I’ve never seen before. I was mostly used to Rice Krispies Treats or even, like, a weed soda, but they’re making things with roasted duck and these fine, phyllo dough things. I don’t know how to cook at all, so I don’t know how to describe what they did, but it was amazing. It’s a great job, and I want to talk about it to anybody who will listen so that I can hopefully do it for 420 episodes and get an infused Choco Taco.
How is weed used in the cooking?
A lot of people who haven’t had weed edibles usually think of it like eating a piece of a brownie, and then going to the hospital or passing out. What we’re doing here is showing this new evolution of cannabis cuisine. People who are fine-tuning their doses, fine-tuning the experience, whether they’re using THC and CBD together or CBD on its own, trying to provide different relaxing effects. It’s a really fun show for people who have already smoked pot and get it, but it also introduces people who may just like cooking shows and like food and might be interested in cooking with marijuana. We’re trying to get rid of some of these cannabis taboos.
What sets your show apart from other weed cooking shows like Ngaio Bealum’s Cooking on High?
Chopped is the template. They’re the people who know how to do it the best. They know how to do the money shots the best. They’re taking that same level of expertise, of giving you those like mouthwatering shots of food, and they’re adding in marijuana. I like some of the marijuana cooking shows. I’m a big fan of Ngaio Bealum—he’s a friend of mine. But I think what the Chopped thing adds to it is that it’s a competition that it isn’t this laid-back dinner where we’re just hanging out and getting high. Everyone’s aware there’s $10,000 on the line. One of the big parts of the show is giving the spotlight to all these chefs and all these restaurants that have been affected by the pandemic. A lot of people have lost their jobs. A lot of these people hadn’t worked in months or even cooked in months. This is their chance to get back in the kitchen and get $10,000. And then the title of Chopped winner is a big thing in the cooking world.
What’s your preferred strain for eating?
I like more citrusy things. So I usually go for a Tangie, because if you’re going to match it up with something else citrusy, they go hand in hand. But I also like a good Sour Diesel or Wi-Fi OG, which will be a little more peppery and it gives you the same notes that you would get from adding peppercorn to your dish. And it makes you sleepy and gets you a nice little giggle.
I have to ask you about the OutKast tweet.
I feel like a lot of art by people of color is overlooked unless it is extremely excellent. And the fact that I said that and it would make some people truly mad, to me, shines a light on things. If you look at the numbers, if you look at the things that OutKast accomplished, if you look at the lineage that they have created, you can make the argument [that OutKast is better than the Beatles] and you shouldn’t be cursing me out over it.
Did you hear from them after the tweet went viral?
My manager called me and said Andre 3000 reached out to her and they want to send me a little gift for recognizing them.
Any chance you get them on the show?
[Laughs] Yeah, I want to have Andre playing the flute on the corner of my show just ignoring everything else, just playing the flute.
WATCH: The first season of Chopped 420 is airing on Discovery+ now.