Comic makes it big
Chris Serico • The Journal News • Feb. 27, 2009
One of the best and most successful comedians to make a name for himself on “Last Comic Standing,” Ralphie May is big - big guy, big laughs, big ticket. With platinum comedy albums, appearances on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and Comedy Central specials - including “Prime Cut,” “Girth of a Nation” and “Austin-Tatious” - May has become one of the hottest stand-up comedians in the country.
May comes to Tarrytown Music Hall tomorrow night.
Chris Serico: In your act, you celebrate the FeMullet, mullets worn by women. Have you ever dated someone with a FeMullet?
Ralphie May: No, I have not. That’s hilarious that you ask. I have known buddies that have, and we do not let them forget about it. … I haven’t yet. I’ve dated some big-ol’-hair girls; I’ve dated some black girls with crazy ghetto hair, but I’ve never danced that way, you know what I mean, with the FeMullet. I’m a classy white trash (guy).
CS: You lost to Dat Phan in the finals of “Last Comic Standing.” What do fans of the show most often say when they recognize you?
RM: That I should’ve won. They think it’s an outrage that I lost. And people get really vocal and vehement about it, and it’s actually sort of odd.
CS: You’re a Southern boy and champion that fact in your stand-up. How are crowds different north of the Mason-Dixon?
RM: It’s weird, because the people all over the country are basically the same except for the five boroughs and Los Angeles and San Francisco and maybe Boston and maybe D.C. But the rest of America is so homogenous … it’s pretty universal for everybody. They want the same thing everybody else does, so it’s really not that hard.
CS: You swam in Saddam Hussein’s pool. I assume he was no longer ruling Iraq at the time.
RM: No, no, no. I wasn’t kicking it with the dictator of Iraq while he was in power, Sunni style. … I was there during a USO tour. When we got there, we came in from being shot at in a helicopter, and it was 120-something degrees. And they’re like, “Hey, you’re all staying in front of the palace. You want to go swimming in the pool?” What? Are you kidding me? … I didn’t even put on my swimsuit or nothin’. I just got out of my clothes and jumped in.
CS: You have lost more than 100 pounds since you appeared on “Celebrity Fit Club.” Do you still picture drill instructor Harvey Walden IV shouting at you when you’re working out these days?
RM: You know what? I love Harvey Walden. I think he’s great. I wish I could work out with him more. It’s so weird because when he was out here pushing his book (on radio shows), I would call in. … Everybody always had this misconception that I hated Harvey, or something like that. I actually really liked him. I thought he was cool as hell. I get along with brothers all day long and half the night, you know what I’m sayin’? So, Harvey, being straight up with me and trying to help me out, was awesome.
CS: What are the last three songs you remember listening to on your iPod?
RM: “Hurt” by Johnny Cash. Um, I’ve got it right here, hold on. The, uh, (starts singing “Higher Ground” by Stevie Wonder), “people, keep on workin’!” And Snoop Dogg - “there’s so much drama in the LBC/It’s kinda hard bein’ Snoop D-O-double-G.”
CS: You appeared on the show “Celebrity Blackjack” with Sarah Rue, Warren G and Carnie Wilson. When the camera’s off, what’s your card game of choice and which celebrities would you most like to play against?
RM: Well, I like blackjack. I wanna play with people I want to talk to. … So, I guess Bono, Angelina Jolie and Tom Cruise - but not for the reasons that anyone else would. I want to talk to (Jolie) because she’s a parent, a responsible parent. … Tom Cruise, I want to talk to you, not about acting at all. I heard you’re a nice guy. I want to talk to you about Scientology. … And then, you know, a great musician like Bono, I just want to take him because he’s Irish. You know, I’m Irish. I’m a dirty (guy) from Cork County. I think that’d make a great three.
CS: So, I gotta know: What are your thoughts on the Snuggie?
RM: On the Snuggie? I don’t see the big deal. It looks like a fat guy’s robe. When did this become special? You know what? That’s not even near my favorite infomercial. I’m a ShamWow (guy). Or the portable fireplace made by the Amish. Are you (kidding) me? Who wouldn’t want to have a nice conversation starter like a portable fireplace made by the genuine Amish. Come on, man. It’s made by dudes with beards! Made by Malakai and Abraham and Ezekiel. That’s what I’m talkin’ about.
CS: At 17, you won a talent show and got to open for Sam Kinison, who told you it was the “funniest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.” Is that the greatest comedy compliment you’ve ever received?
RM: No, the greatest compliment I ever had was— I was having lunch at the L.A. Friars Club with Jeffrey Ross, Milton Berle, Buddy Hackett, Jan Murray and I want to say Sid Caesar. I was the youngest one at the table. And one old guy started busting my (chops) and I started going around the table and doling it out. And they’re dyin’ laughing. … They were like, “Come here.” Milton Berle took off his watch and gave it to me and hugged me and gave me a kiss. Buddy Hackett made me come sit by him; he made me an honorary Jew. … That’s the greatest comedy compliment I ever had. Sam Kinison was a phenomenal legend, but he wasn’t a legend for 50 years. He didn’t star in sitcoms like Milton Berle. He didn’t star in films and stuff the way Buddy Hackett did. He wasn’t part of “Your Show of Shows” with Sid Caesar. It was a huge compliment, but it was nothing compared to (those at the Friars Club).
CS: If you had the chance to do a comedy show with three comedians, living or dead, who would they be?
RM: I would have to go with Richard Pryor, Buddy Hackett and probably Bill Hicks. I’d be the emcee. I’d be the fat guy nobody knew. Or perhaps they wouldn’t know Bill Hicks, but they’d love him a lot more than me. He’s better than me. Comedians are very cocky, and we don’t easily throw that around, but those guys are funnier than me. It’d be a hell of a show, wouldn’t it?