For stand-up comedian Ralphie May, all of life's maladies are fair game. "There is close to nothing I won't talk about. [In this show] I talk about the past year: from domestic violence and the NFL, to all these Asian airlines we just keep losing."
May, raised in Clarksville, Arkansas, was only 17 years old when he won an opportunity to open for legendary comedian Sam Kinison. Following Kinison's advice, he later moved to Houston to further whet his comedic chops. "That's where Sam was from," the 42-year-old says. "People were doing all these comedy clubs and all this stand-up [in Houston]. It was a no-brainer for me."
Since then May's stock has risen continually, from winning second place in the first season of Last Comic Standing to performing on The Wayne Brady Show, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Big Black Comedy Show, and even making an appearance at the 2012 Gathering of Juggalos. After four television specials and a new exclusive three-special deal with Netflix, May is now coming to the Springs with his Unruly tour.
He may crack jokes about imagined smoke sessions with Jesus ("Hey Jesus, on the real, dude, did you write that footprints in the sand poem?") or DIA ("It's a 20-minute walk at Denver Airport to where you turn the corner and go, 'Damn, that's a long-ass walk!'"), but May is serious about a few things. For one, he's healthier than he used to be, following a 2011 scare during which he nearly died from double pneumonia and pulmonary embolisms. The anxiety that followed has also been a battle for him. But in our interview, he's more apt to talk about the hardships that some others face.
"After I was on Last Comic Standing I was asked to join a big comedy tour ... making [six figures] a night! But the USO. asked me to come to Iraq and I didn't hesitate one bit," he remembers. "I've been to 19 war zones [with the USO.] and I see what these men and women are going through ... performing for them has always been the best part of my job."