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COMEDY

Arkansas-raised comic makes 3 stops in state

By Eric E. Harrison

This article was published January 17, 2013 at 2:25 a.m.

— Comedian Ralphie May, born in Chattanooga, Tenn., and raised in Clarksville, is taking a whirlwind tour through Arkansas this week.

He performed Wednesday night in Fort Smith; he has a sold-out show at 8 p.m. today at the UARK Bowl in Fayetteville. And he’ll be headlining a show at 8 p.m. Friday at Robinson Center Music Hall, West Markham Street and Broadway, Little Rock, before heading Saturday to Memphis.

Tickets are $49, $39 and $29 plus Ticketmaster handling fees, but you can get an online 20 percent discount for the cheaper seats - enter code “TOOBIG” at ticketmaster.com or call (800) 745-3000.

May had been scheduled to do a Robinson show last fall, but had to cancel that show and one in Memphis due to what he calls a “ flimflam promoter.”

“This is the make-up date,” he says. “I felt bad for the fans.”

Many of those will be coming from Clarksville, where his single mom raised him and four siblings in the ’70s. (He likes to talk aboutthe time he punched out Corliss Williamson after the former Razorback and NBA player dunked over him during a sixth-grade basketball game.)

“I’m looking forward to seeing so many buddies from high school. I’m really excited,” he says.

Tennessee comedian Billy Wayne Davis, May’s opening act, will do 20-25 minutes up front and May says - warning to fans planning to hire baby sitters - he’s planning a two-hour set, all brand-new material.

“I don’t like to go out and repeat stuff,” he explains. “And I do two hours even though I’m only under contract to do one. All that time and expense, they’ve got to hire a baby sitter, they go outfor dinner, there’s the drive, the tickets - so much expense, at least they’ll be in for a helluva show.”

At 17, May won a talent show and a chance to open for the legendary late SamKinison, who became a mentor and encouraged May to move to Kinison’s home turf, Houston.

He hung around with the so-called “Houston comedy mafia,” which included Kinison and the late Bill Hicks, but “those guys were all 15 to 20 years older than me, and they didn’t like me very much. Not only was I stealing their jokes, I was stealing their gigs.”

May broke into the big time when he took second place in the first season of NBC’s Last Comic Standing. Fans reportedly very vocally claimed he’d been robbed of the crown.

May, according to his official biography, isn’t reluctant about “pointing out society’s hypocrisies. Ralphie doesn’t shy away from touchy topics or ethnic jokes.”

“I am from Arkansas, and I’m ‘regular people,’” he says. “I am a family man; I’ve got two kids.” (He divides his time off the road between Nashville, Tenn., and LosAngeles with his wife Lahna, and their two children, April June May and August James May.)

“But my show is adult. I am an adult entertainer. You bring your kids at your own risk.”

Weekend, Pages 33 on 01/17/2013

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