Thursday, September 29, 2016

Podcast Deep Dive - The Jonah Keri Podcast, 9/26/16

Meanie comes up in conversation, but modern wrestling gets kind of the short shrift on this Jonah Keri Podcast
Photo Credit:
Show: The Jonah Keri Podcast
Episode: 9/26/16
Run Time: 55:29
Guest: Ron Funches

Wrestling fans could use a little more joy in their lives. Just the simple act of being a serious fan these days seems to carry tons of baggage, whether it's engaging in arguments with pessimistic fans online, being pessimistic yourself, or simply having to watch so damn much WWE programming that it feels like you'll never escape from the wrestling quicksand.

But a guy like Ron Funches has it figured out. Going out of his way to make his wrestling fandom known to the public, Funches has shouted out the Young Bucks and Bullet Club on Comedy Central's @midnight and he regularly tweets about being a devotee of the artform. Yet unlike so many wrestling fans out there, Funches is a well-adjusted, vibrant personality whose interests and passions go far beyond what he likes to watch. The episode finds Funches talking about stand-up comedy, his acting career and being a single dad raising a son with autism.

Jonah Keri leads off this episode with chatter about pro wrestling. It's a topic that interests the baseball writer greatly, leading back to his experience at an ECW house show in the mid-90's. Keri tells basically the same story here that he told to Brian Gewirtz back in July, but that's forgivable - it's a story about his girlfriend getting the Blue Meanie's blue paint on her clothes, and that's awesome. This whole experience has stuck with Keri and has informed his curiosity in wrestling ever since.

Keri's questions for Funches don't go much further than the standard questions that get asked by people that don't know a lot about wrestling: When did you start watching wrestling? and Who was your favorite wrestler? Funches happily talks about his past as a fan, but when he starts to drift into modern wrestling by shouting out people like Cesaro and Sami Zayn, the wrestling talk wavers. And then when Funches brings up the Cruiserweight Classic, Keri gives him nothing in response.

This is always how it goes when a non-fan is trying to humor you and ask you about pro wrestling, right? They don't want to be a jerk to you about it, so they ask some perfunctory questions that don't really yield a lot of information from you. And then you try to get into the real reasons why you love pro wrestling so much, and why it's so brilliant, and you tell them about all the amazing wrestlers out there today...and you lose them. Their eyes become big X's like a old-timey dead cartoon character. They've checked out completely because they officially have nothing else to contribute to this conversation. You've gone off the rails into your weird fantasy world of guys wearing spandex and hitting each other, and they don't want to come along with you.

So you have to stop talking about wrestling. You shift into other, more "normal" topics to get things back on track. And you try to never bring up wrestling with this person again.

Ron Funches has probably gone through this experience many times, especially as a guy who runs in circles of alternative comedy. Can you even imagine the snobby judgment that he has to deal with from bearded 20-year old wanna-be comedians who wouldn't be caught dead watching wrestling? Good lord, that must be unbearable. So it's nice when Keri broaches the topic by saying, "Wrestling is a sport! Let's get into it, how did you become so big on it? Because I know there are days where you're like, 'This is what I'm going to do with my day - I'm just gonna watch this for a couple hours and chill.'" Keri might eventually lose interest in the more obscure, current happenings in pro wrestling, but it's encouraging when such a smart guy is so outwardly positive about the very concept of someone being into it.

Let's all try to be like Ron Funches; happy, way into wrestling but not too into wrestling, and keenly aware of when to hold em (keep talking about wrestling) and when to fold em (drop your head in shame and talk about something else).