Last Things First, Episode #4: Ralphie May and Lahna Turner
I met Ralphie May at the Tempe Improv, shortly before all of you saw him competing in the inaugural season of NBC’s Last Comic Standing in 2003, when he finished runner-up. He since has recorded four Comedy Central specials and in 2015 released his first Netflix stand-up special “Unruly” and has a second special for Netflix in the works. Lahna Turner, who married Ralphie in 2005, released her first stand-up special, “I Wrote A Song About It,” in 2014. It’s available on Hulu. Together, they host their own podcast via All Things Comedy called Perfect 10 Podcast.
So let's get to it!
Here are previews of their specials:
I spoke to the couple about their careers and relationship, from the green room of Gotham Comedy Club in New York City before they were set to perform.
Ralphie May joked about his last full-time job that wasn't about comedy: "I was a chef. I cooked. But basically moreover it was just a cover for drug dealing..."
Lahna Turner: "You say drugs. It was just weed."
Ralphie: "Every now and then I'd sell ecstasy."
But Lahna and Ralphie said that you still had to hustle with side projects as an aspiring comedian, no matter where you live. How odd were their jobs?
Ralphie: "I cleaned Jeffrey Ross's apartment."
Lahna: "Yeah. I did, too."
Ralphie reminisced about how, as a child, his grandmother made him watch the late local TV news with her before he could get to watch Johnny Carson -- where he learned how Carson could turn a bad joke about that day's news into a laugh line. Of course, as a teenager, Ralphie earned a huge break winning a talent show contest that allowed him to open for Sam Kinison. "He told me to move to Houston, and six months later, I moved to Houston." After he finished school, of course.
Lahna didn't think she'd wind up in comedy, but enjoyed making funny songs. "I was always in love in comedy. I just didn't know it was an option." Her first song that connected was a play on the country song, "Daddy's Hands."
Which also is how they met at an open mic at the old Laff Stop in Houston (which closed in 2009). His first impression of her: Who's this guitar act? Her first impression of him: "Who's this fat asshole?" But she won the crowd over, won him over even more, and eventually, he won her over, too.
They have advice for couples in comedy -- whether one or both partners are comedians -- in making their relationship thrive and survive. Listen up.
Lahna performed a song that even her daughter can appreciate.
Ralphie recalled his first gigs on the road in Louisiana, opening for Kinison, and then for John Fox. Needless to say, it's very NSFW. "That was my intro to the road. Those two weeks were fucking crazy!"
Major props are given to Doug Stanhope, whom Ralphie says is the only comedian who he'd compare to the late Bill Hicks. "He's begrudgingly battling cancer which is called comedy and success." Ralphie opened for Hicks, too. We talk about how great Mitch Hedberg was, too, and Ralphie offers up several thoughts on how much work he put into producing that first season of Last Comic Standing, he'd improve Comedy Central and Congress. Which job would he go for if he gave up stand-up, though? Tune in and find out!
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