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Second-to-Last Comic Standing

Ralphie May talks Kinison, cocaine and the end of the world



Ralphie May walks between the raindrops. Some critics think he's racist, sexist and likes using the word "retard" a little too much. But the man who came just short of winning the first season of "Last Comic Standing" lives a blessed life with a beautiful wife, two gorgeous kids and his own damned bus to tour the country. He has had more success in stand-up comedy in the last decade than many comedians achieve in a lifetime. While massive success in comedy does not always equal being funny (looking at you, Blue Collar Comedy Tour), May's success seems to be based on that he's a smart and decent guy with comedy running through his veins. The Source recently chatted with May while he was hopped up on cold medication and desperate for some rest. Read the full interview at

Source Weekly: You're 17, and you win a contest to open for Sam Kinison—super exciting or pants-shitting nervousness?

Ralphie May: Uh, both. I was doing really well, and then I was so young and dumb I slipped a punch line and a set up—and that joke bombs and another joke bombs, and then I did what Sam told me to do when I was in trouble, and started yelling and cussing.

SW: Did that pull you out of it okay?

RM: Not that night. He told me to cuss the audience out and scream at them if I got in trouble, and I loved it so that's what I did. I got booed by 3,200 people, I started crying a little bit, I ran off stage and then one of the biggest names in stand-up comedy comes running out and tells me I'll never be in stand-up comedy again. And I'm really crying now. I got used, you know? I got set up. The audience, they love Sam now. It was a brilliant move.

SW: Right.

RM: Absolutely brilliant. I didn't know what was going on. It wasn't until a year later that I asked all the questions and saw that it was a status thing at the time. But he was just great, you know. One time I called him collect to come pick me up from a venue so I could get out of there, and Bill Kinison, Sam's brother, shows up and says, "Hey, Sam loved it. He thought you were great. Why don't you come party with us?" And I said "OK!" Now, a Sam Kinison party—after-party—is no place for me now, much less [as] a 17-year-old boy. I was drinking wine coolers, OK, and getting fucked up and Sam comes into the room and there's a bunch of people there and a huge line of blow in front of us and Sam was like, "Hey kid, order some pizza," so I ordered some pizza. Pizza comes and when it does, Sam pays for the pizza and tips the guy three little baggies of cocaine. Twenty minutes later we get a phone call in the hotel room: "Hey, you guys need more pizza? We can bring you more, no problem."

SW: Do you feel like nowadays we're living in a culture of outrage, where we're always looking at the next thing to get offended by or freaked out about?

RM: Yeah, and moreover, we live in a violent, hateful and more divided, lost, community, world, than I've ever seen in all my days of living in America. We have overt racism and discrimination, death because of skin color. It's bad, man. Sometimes I watch the news and the misery that man inflicts upon man is staggering and makes me cry a little bit. Sometimes I think we're living in a world where Biff Tannen (ed. note: Back to the Future II ) still has the sports almanac.

Ralphie May

7 pm. Thursday, Feb. 5.

Tower Theatre, 835 NW Wall St.


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