Ralph Duren May
February 17, 1972
Chattanooga, Tennessee, U.S.
|Died||October 6, 2017 (aged 45)|
Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
|Burial place||Oakland Memorial Cemetery |
|Medium||Stand-up, television, radio|
|Subject(s)||Wit, word play, satire, sexuality, race, religion, family life, obesity, politics, medicine|
Ralph Duren May (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.
At age 17 he won a contest to open for Sam Kinison, whom he considered his idol. 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!"'" Kinison suggested that May move to Houston to further develop his comedy routine. May graduated from the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.
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.
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), Austin-tatious (2008), and Too Big To Ignore (2012), as well as two Netflix specials titled Imperfectly Yours (2013) and Unruly (2015). He appeared in For Da Love of Money. May also performed at the "Gathering of the Juggalos 2012".
On July 3, 2005, May married comedian Lahna Turner. The couple had two children: a daughter born in September 2007 and a son born in June 2009. The couple filed for divorce in October 2015 and sought joint custody of their children, but their separation could never be finalized.
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). After a bout with viral pneumonia on a cruise in October 2011, May lost 40 pounds. The following month, he suffered a nearly-fatal pulmonary embolism after contracting serious pneumonia on a cruise ship, where a blood clot from his leg became lodged in an artery.
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."
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."
In 2013, May and his wife Turner started a podcast together called Perfect 10.
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. 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. Joey Diaz and the Smash brothers purchased his headstone.
|2002||For Da Love of Money||Otis|
|Whoopi||Sammy||Episode: "The Fat and the Frivolous"|
|2005||Big Black Comedy: Vol. 2||Himself|||
|Big Black Comedy: Vol. 4||Himself|||
|2006||Girth of a Nation||Himself|
|Bangin' With Ralphie May||Himself|||
|2008||The Best of Comics Unleashed With Byron Allen||Himself|||
|2012||Too Big to Ignore||Himself|
|Squidbillies||P-NUT||Episode: "Thou Shale Not Drill"|
|2016||Inside Amy Schumer||Ralphie|
|2017||Penn & Teller: Fool Us||Himself|||
|2018||Ralphie May Presents||Himself|
|2019||What's Eating Ralphie May?||Himself|||
|2006||Girth of a Nation|
|2012||Too Big to Ignore|
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- "Film in Review: For Da Love of Money". New York Times. April 26, 2002.
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- Ralphie May's wife Lahna Turner files divorce tmz.com
- 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.
- 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 18, 2022. Retrieved April 18, 2022.
- "Comedian Ralphie May to perform at Egyptian theater". Daily Chronicle. February 1, 2016. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
- Bell, Robert (August 31, 2012). "Ralphie May talks growing up in Clarksville". Arkansas Times. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
- "Comedians Ralphie May and Lahna Turner to divorce". Daniel Jensen Law Office. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
- Shanley, Patrick (April 16, 2015). "Comedian Ralphie May to Pen Humorous Memoir". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
- May, Ralphie (2017). This Might Get a Little Heavy: A Memoir. Parker, Nils (1 ed.). New York. ISBN 9781250085740. OCLC 1010697817.
- "Comedian Ralphie May Dead at 33 of Cardiac Arrest". tmz.com.
- Nemetz, Dave (October 6, 2017). "Ralphie May, Stand-Up Comic and 'Last Comic Standing' Finalist, Dead at 45". Yahoo News. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
- "RALPHIE MAY FRAIL AND PALE At Final Meet-and-Greet". tmz.com. October 11, 2017. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
- "Ralphie May". IMDB.
- "Ralphie May - Album discography". AllMusic.