The Hippo


Jun 2, 2020








Ralphie May. Courtesy photo.

Ralphie May

When: Sunday, Nov. 2, at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Palace Theatre, 80 Hanover St., Manchester
Tickets: $29.50, $39.50 and $54.50 (VIP seating with post show meet & greet) at 

Keeping it real
Ralphie May brings edgy act to Manchester

By Michael Witthaus

 Lewd, crude comedy abounds in a Ralphie May set, from nicknames for female anatomy (“monkey” is a favorite) to stories about “wake and bake” gravity bong sessions featuring pot/hash/pot “Cuban sandwiches.” At some point, though, there’s a moment of truth when the Southern-born comic reveals he’s after more than laughs. 

With near sleight-of-hand skill, he’ll expose a prejudice and upend it. Then, with a lusty chortle, he’ll bludgeon his audience with it. For example, he riffed during his most recent Comedy Central Special, “Too Big To Ignore,” he prefers to stay at his home in the Hollywood Hills when not working, but his wife wants to go to Mexico. 
“Why go to Mexico? We’re already in Los Angeles,” he said.
You know where this is going, right? Wrong. A riff on day laborers (“three for $10 at Home Depot”) shifts to an indictment of Arizona immigration policy and the state’s long refusal to observe Martin Luther King Day. “They’d rather hate than take a day off,” Ralphie May said, following a brief, eloquent soliloquy on the slain civil rights leader. “That’s un-American — the lazy gene trumps the hate gene.” 
Black people, he said, “would celebrate the Ku Klux Klan if it meant staying home from work.” 
Laughs and shudders commingle in a way that recalls Richard Pryor or Dave Chappelle, but not that many white comics have even tried to pull it off. His long bit ends with a near meditation. 
“Unleash your burden; no amount of hate is worth it. Get to know people and learn good reasons to hate them,” he said. 
In a recent phone interview, the comic talked about his material.
“It’s all the truth, man, I don’t make up anything when I say this stuff and I’ve stopped trying to be nice,” he said. “I can’t change a racist, but maybe I can change someone on the verge into a different way of looking at things … that’s all I try to do.”
It’s a successful act; after finishing as runner-up the first season of Last Comic Standing, he’s released four albums and three videos, with a pair of Netflix specials due out soon. Relentless touring, however, has come at a cost. 
“I’m on the road so much … it’s hard,” he said. “Nobody pays for my act; what they’re paying for is me not being home, not being with my wife, not sleeping in my bed. That’s what the money is for; the jokes are on the house.”
Life is easier when his wife, comic Lahna Turner, joins him on tour. The couple’s two kids and an au pair load into Dave Matthews’ old tour bus for an occasional cross-country jaunt. 
“It’s the one that dropped a deuce in Chicago, so I’ve been told by a lot of drivers,” he said, referring to a notorious incident when the septic system spilled into the Chicago River.
He agrees that the historic bus should be decked out properly. 
“Maybe a bumper sticker that says ‘The Deuce’ and a brown racing stripe down the middle with a big No. 2 — ha!”
You can almost hear the wheels turning for a new addition to Ralphie’s ever-changing act. Later, he tries out a bit about disgraced NBA owner Donald Sterling. 
“All the fake outrage is so stupid. Before all his stuff happened, the Clippers were worth $750 million, and he sold the team for $2 billion — that’ll teach him. What, he’s gonna throw out his back hauling all that cash around?”
On stage, Ralphie May is a workhorse. 
“My contract is for a 45- to 55-minute set, but I haven’t done less than one hour 30 — I blow their minds,” he said. “When you hear the backstage people say, ‘Man, we love it when you’re here; you’re crazy, the audience loves you and you do way more show and a different show,’ that means the world to me. It’s what we as comedians work for.”   
As seen in the October 30, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

®2020 Hippo Press. site by wedu