Comedian Ralphie May will be performing at Carnival on Thursday. May is a nationally renowned comedian with many TV appearances, including The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Last Comic Standing, and has recently released his own CD and DVD. The Tartan got a chance to interview him and learn more about what makes this comedian tick.
Tartan: Do you often perform on college campuses?
Ralphie May: Sure, I love it, man. I think it's going to be a great campus. I love Pittsburgh ? not a lot of people can say that.
T: When was the last time you were in Pittsburgh?
RM: I played at the Improv and I stayed downtown at the Hilton and I love that whole area. I was there in the summer when it was gorgeous and there was a huge festival there in the park. There's baseball there ? wow, what a ballpark. I grew up a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. I heard an interview with Terry Bradshaw when I was a kid and I was like, "He is the only one who sounds like me." You know that country cornpone type of guy that he was. I loved it. Pittsburgh is a great town; it's a great comedy town too.
T: So did you know you wanted to be a comedian back then at a young age?
RM: Yeah, I wanted to do stand-up when I was nine. The first time I did it I was 13. I was doing it professionally at 17. I got the opportunity to open up for Sam Kinison and he told me to move to Houston and the rest, as they say, is history.
T: You're on a bunch of reality shows. The first one is Celebrity Fit Club.
RM: Yeah, it's on VH1. It's a great show, I love that show. It has a lot of heart and it's an inspiration to other people.
T: And then there's The Ralphie & Lahna Show.
RM: It's about me and my girl. I like it. It's great.
T: So is it a lot of fun to be on all of these reality shows?
RM: Yeah, I'm a really public person. I think to be on reality shows you have to be a sort of an exhibitionist. Which I am. I'm rather indifferent to other people's judgments. So when you free yourself from that, everything is awesome. That's what all these reality shows do; they just show people me and my house, and me and my life, and me and my dog ? and my dog is getting commercial credit, that's crazy. It's just kind of bizarre.
T: Speaking of exhibitionism, I went to your website and Snoop Dogg is helping you promote your DVD.
RM: Yeah, he's my man. We met backstage at The Tonight Show.
T: And Snoop Dogg sells the Girls Gone Wild DVDs too. Should we expect to see Ralphie May Gone Wild?
RM: Sure. I wouldn't mind that at all, to be honest with you.
T: So what's in the future?
RM: Well, I have some movies in the works. I have another show called Baggin' which is a combat comedy show, where two comics stand up and tell jokes and crack each other. Like yo' mama jokes, like "Yo' mama's getting a coochie on her hip so she can make money on the side.? And then the other guy would come back and say "Yeah, well yo' mama she don't like barbeques but she sure like when my meat hits her grill.? They combat and the audience votes on it right there and they win cash and prizes and it's a really funny show.
T: What comedians would you say are big influences on you?
RM: Sam Kinison, Bill Hicks, Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Doug Stanhope, a lot of great guys.
T: The comedian for Carnival last year was Mitch Hedberg, who as we all know unfortunately passed away at a very young age recently. Has that sent shock waves through the stand-up community?
RM: Mitchell was Mitchell. Okay? He was a comic's comic; we all loved him. We all knew what type of person Mitchell was: Last year he nearly lost his foot because of injecting heroin and coke, or a combination of whatever he did. What killed Mitchell was part of what made him; nobody was shocked. It's just more of a disappointment and an anger where I'm at and where a lot of people are at. To quote Chazz Palminteri, who wrote A Bronx Tale, there's nothing sadder in life than wasted talent. Let me tell you, that guy, him dying at 37, is wasted f?ing talent. It's just a damn shame. Those drugs had a hold of him and he couldn't shake, but that's what brought him bizarre comedy, that's what made him the performer he was. He lived hard and bright, baby. When you flame out like that at an early age, that's how it happens. That's what legends are made of. He's more deserving of a legendary status than James Dean, who only acted in like three movies. He's up there with Bill Hicks and he's going to be bigger in death than he was in life because more people are going to listen to him. I'm fortunate to have known him and worked with him. But you know, we're comics. We only boohoo for so long and then we got to get back to jokes.
T: So my last question is do you have any opinion on who the next pope should be?
T: Any opinion on the next pope, you know, any dark horse candidates that you've got your eye on?
RM: I want Guido Sarducci.