The laugh is frequent, high-pitched, contagious and most of all, surprising.
It erupts from Ron Funches, a really big African-American man, and he describes it as “sounding like an Asian princess.”
Funches plays Shelly in NBC’s latest comedy, “Undateable,” premiering Thursday, May 29. Bill Lawrence (“Scrubs,” “Spin City,” “Cougar Town”) and Adam Sztykiel (“Due Date”) created a show about a bunch of guys who need remedial help in dating.
The series is set in Detroit, where Shelly is the city’s biggest sports booster and wears only clothing with sports insignia. He does not seem to have demands on his time, such as a job.
“Shelly is currently independently wealthy,” Funches tells Zap2it. “He works in music. I don’t know what capacity, but he is second generation.”
Considering the show is set in Detroit, it’s not inconceivable that Shelly might be Motown royalty.
“He just hangs out,” Funches says. “I think it explains some of his weirdness. He has never had to work.”
So Shelly hangs out and roots for Detroit teams. Funches describes himself as a “medium sports fan, and it would not be Detroit teams. I like the Bulls, the Bears — Chicago. It kind of hurts my heart sometimes how much I have to [root for] Detroit.”
Funches spent his childhood in Chicago, then his family moved to Salem, Ore., and he now lives in Los Angeles. Unlike Shelly, Funches has worked a whole lot of jobs over the years, including grocery store cashier, a faux Lady Liberty to lure customers into tax preparers’ offices, and at a cannery.
He and a friend were working the graveyard shift at a cannery when they were watching wrestling one night. They decided to finish watching rather than clock in.
When told that sounds very much like something Shelly would do, Funches lets loose with his raindrops-on-silver-bells-on-unicorns laugh.
First knew you were funny: “When I was about 5. I remember one time my mother grounded me and my sister, and we were making jokes and making fun of my mom and other family members. And then I could hear, on the other side of the door, my mom listening to me and laughing, and she didn’t get mad at me.”
Credits: “Bob’s Burgers,” “Kroll Show,” “Enlisted,” “Portlandia”
Ideal roles: “The Ben Stiller, Jack Black, everyman lead in a movie that still has this heart and character and weird sexiness, and people want to watch my movie.”
Favorite movies: ” ‘Malcolm X’ was impressionable for me as a kid. ‘Forrest Gump,’ ‘Aladdin.’ “
Favorite books: ” ‘Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah’ by Richard Bach, and ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ (by Erich Maria Remarque), and ‘The Misanthrope’ by Moliere.”
Favorite music: “It is a lot of the rapper Future, and a lot of Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass. And listening to a lot of the Wu-Tang Clan.”