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Ralphie May

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Ralphie May
May on August 2, 2009
Ralph Duren May

(1972-02-17)February 17, 1972
DiedOctober 6, 2017(2017-10-06) (aged 45)
Burial placeOakland Memorial Cemetery
Clarksville, Arkansas
(m. 2005)
Comedy career
Years active1989–2017
GenresObservational comedy

Ralph Duren May[1] (February 17, 1972 – October 6, 2017) was an American stand-up comedian and actor, known for his extensive touring and comedy specials on multiple media platforms.

Early life[edit]

May was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee,[2] and raised in Clarksville, Arkansas.[3] He was the youngest of four children.[citation needed]

At age 17 he won a contest to open for Sam Kinison, whom he considered his idol.[4] May explained, "The joke that he liked the best was talking about the drummer (Rick Allen) from Def Leppard. 'After he lost his arm, I felt bad about listening to him. Not that I'm prejudiced against handicapped people, it's just the fact that if I applauded, it was insulting to him, like "Ha! Ha! Look at my use of two hands!"'[5] Kinison suggested that May move to Houston to further develop his comedy routine.[6] May graduated from the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.[citation needed]


In 2003, May was chosen to participate in the first season of Last Comic Standing. He finished in second place in the competition, with Dat Phan winning first place. Afterwards, May appeared in comedy shows, such as The Wayne Brady Show and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. In 2005, he was the only white comedian on The Big Black Comedy Show, which also featured Mo'Nique, Rodman, and Vince Morris.[7]

In 2005, May released his first comedy album Just Correct. He later recorded four Comedy Central specials titled Girth of a Nation (2006), Prime Cut (2007),[8] Austin-tatious (2008), and Too Big To Ignore (2012),[9] as well as two Netflix specials titled Imperfectly Yours (2013) and Unruly (2015).[10] He appeared in For Da Love of Money.[11] May also performed at the "Gathering of the Juggalos 2012".[12]

Personal life[edit]

On July 3, 2005, May married comedian Lahna Turner. The couple had two children: a daughter born in September 2007[13][14] and a son born in June 2009.[15][14] The couple filed for divorce in October 2015 and sought joint custody of their children, but their separation could never be finalized.[16]

May struggled with obesity throughout his life. He participated on VH1's Celebrity Fit Club and had gastric bypass surgery in 2004, which lowered his weight to 350 pounds (160 kg).[4][17] After a bout with viral pneumonia on a cruise in October 2011, May lost 40 pounds.[17] The following month, he suffered a nearly-fatal pulmonary embolism, where a blood clot from his leg became lodged in an artery.[18]

In many interviews May discussed his grandmother, whom he credited with helping to care for him and his siblings when they were children. Speaking to the Arkansas Times in 2012, May said, "Thank goodness for my grandmother, she was a hell of a woman. She was really beneficial, she kept us in a stature way above our means and made sure we were taken care of as far as clean clothes and shoes." His Facebook bio also references his grandmother. "When I was a kid, my grandmother taught me how to crochet and how to quilt, and that's kind of how I do an act. I have one-liners, I have dirty jokes, but I also have long stories that are 10 or 20 minutes long and the laughs come every eight seconds. It's a different set. And it's a different life than most people have led."[19]

In an interview with the Arkansas Times in 2012, he discussed growing up in Clarksville, shedding light on some of the hardships he faced. He shared, "It was a hard life growing up. It was a similar story to a lot of people in Arkansas. My mom was a florist. I'm the youngest of four. My father and mother hated each other, and they took it out on us. She'd sue him for not paying child support, then he didn't pay, and that ended up costing us a lot."[20]

In 2013, May and his wife Turner started a podcast together called Perfect 10.[21]

His memoir, This Might Get a Little Heavy, was published posthumously in December 2017.[22][23]


On October 6, 2017, May went into cardiac arrest and died. May had been battling pneumonia for several weeks and as a result, had canceled shows over the previous month. He was 45 years old.[24][25] It was later published that, hours before his death, May was scheduled to do a meet-and-greet after his final performance at Harrah's in Las Vegas around midnight, but he had already shown signs of his deteriorating condition.[26]


Year Title Role Notes
2002 For Da Love of Money Otis
2003 Just Correct Himself [27]
Whoopi Sammy Episode: "The Fat and the Frivolous"
2005 Big Black Comedy: Vol. 2 Himself [27]
Big Black Comedy: Vol. 4 Himself [27]
2006 Girth of a Nation Himself
2007 Prime Cut Himself
Bangin' With Ralphie May Himself [27]
2008 The Best of Comics Unleashed With Byron Allen Himself [27]
Austin-Tatious Himself [27]
2012 Too Big to Ignore Himself
2013 Imperfectly Yours Himself
Squidbillies P-NUT Episode: "Thou Shale Not Drill"[27]
2015 Unruly Himself
2016 Inside Amy Schumer Ralphie
2016 Jeff Ross Presents Roast Battle Himself 2 episodes - eliminated - other comics mentioned he was going through a divorce at the time of taping. Mentioned that his wife was settling for only half of everything he has instead of waiting a few months and getting it all. Also noted he had lost his family, his house and only thing he hadn’t lost is weight.
2017 Penn & Teller: Fool Us Himself [27]
2018 Ralphie May Presents Himself
2019 What's Eating Ralphie May? Himself [27]


Year Title[28] Notes
2005 Just Correct
2006 Girth of a Nation
2007 Prime Cut
2008 Austin-Tatious
2012 Too Big to Ignore
2013 ‘’Imperfectly Yours’’
2015 ‘’Unruly’’


  1. ^ Genzlinger, Neil (October 6, 2017). "Ralphie May, 45, Comedian 'Who Happens to Be Fat,' Dies". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 9, 2020.
  2. ^ Genzlinger, Neil (October 6, 2017). "Ralphie May, 45, Comedian 'Who Happens to Be Fat,' Dies". New York Times. Retrieved October 6, 2017.
  3. ^ "Comedian and Clarksville Native, Ralphie May Dead at 45". Arkansas Matters. October 6, 2017. Retrieved October 6, 2017.
  4. ^ a b Rusnak, Jeff (May 7, 2004). "Ralphie May Succeeds On Stage, But Not By Throwing His Weight Around". Sun-Sentinel. Archived from the original on October 12, 2018. Retrieved October 6, 2017.
  5. ^ "Sam Kinison's Wild Ride - Las Vegas Weekly". April 12, 2007.
  6. ^ "Ralphie May Dead--Dies 45". Huffington Post. October 6, 2017.
  7. ^ "Ralphie May". Comedy Central. Retrieved February 27, 2015.
  8. ^ Ralphie May: Prime Cut (2007). The New York Times
  9. ^ "Comedian Ralphie May Dies at 45". Variety Magazine. October 6, 2017.
  10. ^ Hautman, Nicholas (October 6, 2017). "Ralphie May Dead: Kevin Hart, Gabriel Iglesias, Bob Saget and More Pay Tribute to Comedian". US Magazine.
  11. ^ "Film in Review: For Da Love of Money". New York Times. April 26, 2002.
  12. ^ "Insane Clown Posse Fire Up the 2012 Gathering of the Juggalos". Rolling Stone Magazine. August 14, 2012. Archived from the original on October 9, 2017. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  13. ^ "Comedians Ralphie May and Lahna Turner are new parents". People. September 17, 2007. Retrieved September 30, 2019.
  14. ^ a b "Lahna Turner, Ralphie May's Wife: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". heavy.com. October 6, 2017.
  15. ^ "Ralphie May Welcomes Son August James May". People. June 26, 2009. Retrieved September 30, 2019.
  16. ^ Ralphie May's wife Lahna Turner files divorce tmz.com
  17. ^ a b Cridlin, Jay (December 5, 2011). "For comic Ralphie May, health scare in Tampa was life-changing experience". Tampa Bay Times. Archived from the original on October 7, 2017. Retrieved October 6, 2017.
  18. ^ Ho, Rodney (October 6, 2017). "Ralphie May almost died in November 2011 of a pulmonary embolism". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Archived from the original on April 19, 2022. Retrieved April 18, 2022.
  19. ^ "Comedian Ralphie May to perform at Egyptian theater". Daily Chronicle. February 1, 2016. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  20. ^ Bell, Robert (August 31, 2012). "Ralphie May talks growing up in Clarksville". Arkansas Times. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  21. ^ "Comedians Ralphie May and Lahna Turner to divorce". Daniel Jensen Law Office. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  22. ^ Shanley, Patrick (April 16, 2015). "Comedian Ralphie May to Pen Humorous Memoir". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  23. ^ May, Ralphie (2017). This Might Get a Little Heavy: A Memoir. Parker, Nils (1 ed.). New York. ISBN 9781250085740. OCLC 1010697817.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  24. ^ "Comedian Ralphie May Dead at 33 of Cardiac Arrest". tmz.com.
  25. ^ Nemetz, Dave (October 5, 2017). "Ralphie May, Stand-Up Comic and 'Last Comic Standing' Finalist, Dead at 45". Yahoo News. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
  26. ^ "RALPHIE MAY FRAIL AND PALE At Final Meet-and-Greet". tmz.com. October 11, 2017. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
  27. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Ralphie May". IMDB.
  28. ^ "Ralphie May - Album discography". AllMusic.

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