Well-known Comedian Ralphie May to Perform
Ralphie May, one of the most popular stand-up comedians in the country, will perform at the Kent State University at Tuscarawas Performing Arts Center on Sept. 16 at 7:30 p.m. Known for his hilarious, off-beat observations, Ralphie May has performed on Last Comic Standing, Comedy Central, The Tonight Show, and the Netflix specials “Unruly” and “Imperfectly Yours.” His frank, no-nonsense viewpoints keep audiences laughing. Ralphie May delivers a performance containing mature language and content meant for adults only. This show is co-sponsored by Mix 94.1 radio.
Tickets for Ralphie May range in price from $32 to $42 and can be purchased now at the Performing Arts Center box office, online at www.kent.edu/tusc/pac or by calling 330-308-6400. The box office is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Free parking is available for all shows.
For 25 years, Ralphie May has appeared at the biggest venues, slayed every late-night audience multiple times, recorded a special for every comedy-loving network on television, traveled the world for the USO and reached the level of popularity few standup comedians have attained.
Yet little compares to the amount of exposure May received when Netflix exclusively launched his new comedy special “Unruly” in February, at the same time it released the new season of “House of Cards.”
“That’s the biggest launch in Netflix history,” May said. “The wave for ‘House of Cards’ is a tsunami and I’m the fat guy trying to body surf. These guys are taking me to the middle of the country. They’re taking me into people’s homes. I’m the luckiest guy in America.”
You could make the argument May already was among the luckiest, with a charmed career that’s equal parts sweat equity and choking the life out of every opportunity that came along. He fell in love with comedy after performing at a church conference at age 13, and winning unexpected rewards. He turned professional at 17 when he opened for Sam Kinison after winning a contest as a dual-enrollment student at the University of Arkansas.
“He told me to move to Houston,” May said, “so I didn’t wait till graduation. I just left: ‘I’m going to Houston to do standup.’ And that was 25 years ago. It’s crazy.”
Houston was a comedy Mecca at the time with seven clubs and a thriving, competitive scene. May could work all the time, and he did, also landing a radio gig that helped expand his reputation. He eventually earned a spot on the first season of Last Comic Standing, and though he finished second, he might as well have won with the way fans fell in love with his over-the-top persona.
The raw, uncensored hallmarks of his mentor Kinison are evident in May’s set, laid out brilliantly over two hours in “Unruly,” recorded in front of a raucous, fist-pumping crowd of thousands in Atlanta. But May doesn’t deal in simple outrage, building a routine that’s rich, deep and fearless. He’s able to balance boyish charm, withering introspection and compassion for his fellow human being with some of the dirtiest, most honest observations you’ve ever heard.
“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,” May said. “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.”
Viewership expectations are high. May debuted five specials over a decade on Comedy Central, with each drawing record ratings. He also tours extensively and has made 19 trips into war zones to perform for troops with the USO and Wounded Warriors charity. And his popularity continues to grow. He and his family split their time between Nashville and Los Angeles, where he has television development deals for an unscripted reality show with Ryan Seacrest Productions and a scripted series with Will Ferrell’s Gary Sanchez Productions.