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Ralphie May on Being the White Guy on The Big Black Comedy Show, "'Big' Is the First Word In There"

If you were lucky enough to be called a pig-fucker by

Ralphie May, that means you were at his first big show, opening for his idol,

Sam Kinison.

If not, you've probably seen Ralphie on everything from Last Comic

Standing to the Big Black Comedy Show to any one of his standup shows on

Comedy Central. He's going to be performing at the Palm Beach Improv for the

next two weeks with his wife, Lahna Turner (not that Lana Turner), opening for him. We talked to him about touring with his honey, leaving Afghanistan, and learning Spanish. 

New Times: I read that Sam Kinison is your idol and that you met him at a stand up competition. How'd that go?

Ralphie May: Oh man, it was great and horrible at the same time. It was a radio station contest to open for Sam Kinison and I won at 17-years old. On the way over to the show he said "Kid, are you nervous?" and I said "No." And he said "Kid, there's going to be 3,500, people there tonight, and none of them paid to see you."

Well, if you weren't nervous, you certainly were then.

Exactly. Then he asked if I had closer, and I didn't even know what that was. He told me it was the closing joke, and I had one but he said "Well, use mine if you get into trouble. Just start yelling and cussing and screaming at the audience. The more you do that, the more they'll love you."

Sounds like solid advice.

[Laughs] Right? So it's about five minutes in, and I'm destroying it, doing really well. And I get ahead of myself and I flub a punch line and a setup and the joke bombs. Then the next joke bombs. So I panic, realizing that I was close to the end of my time.

I just start yelling at the audience, calling them inbred and pig-fuckers. And they all start booing me. So Kinison gets on stage and says to the crowd: "Can you believe that kid? Coming up here and yelling at you like that? He'll never do stand up again!" And standup is all I wanted to do, so I'm crying a little bit when Bill, Sam's brother, comes up and says, "Sam never thought you'd have the balls to do that, why don't you come with us to the after-party?" During the night Sam told me I should move to Houston where he got his start, and that's what I did.

Most people know you from Last Comic Standing, can you tell me about that experience and what it did for your career?

I loved it. America didn't choose me but you know what? I got standing ovations every show while using different material each time, and I was the only comic to do either of those. And not winning sort of galvanized me because it created an outrage from people that thought I should've won. And those fans made my first album go platinum. I've got five albums and sold 6.8 million, and it's just tremendous.

You and your wife, Lahna Turner, are a comedy touring duo, how do you like that?

I love touring with her, it's perfect. My fans love it, I talk so much about her and the babies. It's very nice to have them around.

Speaking of the babies, you have two kids! Parenting is hard on a normal day, how do you do it on the road?

We have a nanny but when we don't, we switch off. If I'm on stage she's with them, if she's on stage I'm with them. We do the exchange on stage so they've been onstage their whole lives and they're not afraid of anything, which is a really good thing to teach your kids.

 

What should people seeing you for the first time expect?

I'm politically incorrect, racially insensitive, and culturally controversial. I'm a dirty, filthy animal but I will make you laugh till you hurt.

Is there something you do that separates you from other comedians?

Actually, yeah. I do a longer show than most comedians. They do about an hour whereas I do two hours. I do that because my audience typically makes on average about $15 an hour, the hard working regular folks. With tax and insurance it's even less. If I can give them two hours, I feel like that's more of a fair exchange.

You were the only white guy on The Big Black Comedy Show. How did that happen?

You know, "Big" is the first word in there which means that I have an in. I had a wonderful time, it was so great to be introduced by Mo'Nique, a future Oscar winner.

I've always been kind of a crossover. I was one of the first white comedians on some BET shows and the first white comic on Telemundo's Galavision Que Locos show.

What is a goal of yours?

I've actually just started learning Spanish so I can do my act for Telemundo, and then I can do a tour in more places. I want to go to Puerto Rico; I want to be the first comedian to go to Cuba to do a comedy show. I want to go all over Central and South America, and the only way to do that is to be able to speak the language.

Who would you love to open for you, other than your talented wife?

I usually get my pal Billy Wayne Davis, a standup comic from Tennessee. He's kind of my protégé. I've been teaching him how to do stand up for almost 10 years and he's a master of it now, so we still love to work together.

Who would you love to open for?

When we end the war in Afghanistan and we have a parade in New York, I'd like to be the comedian that opens that. That's a dream and I'd like that to happen ASAP. I want all our troops out of that shithole and to come home. I've performed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and I just want to see those guys march home to their wives and kids.

Ralphie May with Lahna Turner. Too Big to Ignore. Jan. 25 to 27, at Palm Beach Improv, 550 South Rosemary Ave., Suite 250, West Palm Beach. Two drink minimum, and tickets cost $25. Visit palmbeachimprov.com for times.



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Palm Beach Improv at CityPlace

550 S. Rosemary Ave.
West Palm Beach, FL 33401

561-833-1812

www.palmbeachimprov.com


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