(SOUTH ORANGE, NJ) - This Friday, comedian Ralphie May will bring his no-nonsense, un-PC brand of comedy to the South Orange Performing Arts Center. The larger than life comedian will be featuring material from his upcoming special on Netflix along with classic bits from throughout his career. Tickets are available at www.SOPACnow.org from $29 to $49.
His upcoming special will be recorded live in Atlanta at the end of the month. It's his second special with Netflix, an arrangement that lets him release specials at a quicker pace than ever before - something that works well with his topical humor.
While many comics often struggle with working new material into their sets, May is the complete opposite. He's always writing. "I write a lot of jokes," said May. "I write long routines about current topics and long routines about me. I'm not going to sugar coat how stupid I am sometimes. Like the time I carried marijuana into Guam. That was dumb. It was stupid, but I did it."
May was caught with weed in the Guam airport when he started petting some drug sniffing dogs. A dog lover, he thought they were just being friendly when they were actually signally that they smelled pot.
For years, May's reputation as a pot smoker was legendary, but health problems forced him to change his ways. He says he switched to vaping because it's a lot better on his lungs and swears by Cheeba Chews. Ever since being treated for bilateral double pneumonia and pulmonary embolisms (and told his chances of surviving were slim), May has tried to improve his health for his sake and the sake of his wife and two kids. But that hasn't stopped his pot smoking fans from seeing them as one of their own.
"Whenever I tour a state that has legal weed, people come out of the closet to give me legal weed!" said May. "So much that I will rake in a pound a week in weed… that's a lot of reefer man!"
May says he always thought the common sense arguments behind legalizing pot would sink into the public. "It's a vice and we should be taxing it," he says. "We have to stop trying to sell the idea of legalizing marijuana to people who smoke marijuana. If you ask most people around the country if they are for legalizing marijuana they'll say ‘No, I'm not.' Well, wouldn't you like free roads and schools so your tax bill is not as high and goes further? They're like ‘Yeah'. And wouldn't you like less traffic in the afternoon on your drive home? Stoners have a thing called 420 when they go and smoke weed at 4:20pm. And they're way too stoned to get on the road immediately at 5 o'clock and go home. They need to get a drink at a bar or play some videos games to come down… The key to legalization is selling it to the people who don't smoke it."
If that sounds a bit like a political platform, it's because May does have political ambitions. He would love to follow the path of fellow comedian Al Franken and eventually enter politics. The plan is maybe to do something in 2020 or a few years after that. He's in no rush to join the world of sinners, as he calls politicians. The most important thing for him is to make sure he and his family are taken care of because he doesn't believe in being paid as a politician.
"I wouldn't take a dime of my money from being a sinner," he explains. "I would donate that back to various causes. I want to be a stand-up comedian but I would like to be a sinner because I think I am a voice of the people. If you feel like you're charged with that and you feel like you can do it and you're emphatic enough to feel what's going on in their hearts and minds than maybe you should run. Because that's what we need in our leaders - an emphatic ear; someone to decide for the people who can't think for themselves. Just a little commons sense, shaking heads, and kicking some asses."
Before his pneumonia he used to say that his whole goal was to make people laugh. Since nearly dying, he now says he wants to make them laugh and think. Talking about race, religion, and marijuana are just a few of the politically incorrect subjects he wants people to think about. He has a no nonsense point of view and the ability to connect with a diverse audience by pointing out society's hypocrisies. Ralphie doesn't shy away from touchy topics or ethnic jokes, nor does he bite his tongue when society suggests, because he sincerely believes that as long as what he's saying is true, people need to hear it.
See for yourself when the comedian that was voted one of Variety Magazine's "10 Comics to Watch" comes to SOPAC on Friday, November 7. Rob Cantrell opens the show.
SOPAC is located at One SOPAC Way in South Orange, NJ. For more information Click Here
Gary Wien has been covering the arts since 2001 and has had work published with Jersey Arts, Elmore Magazine, Princeton Magazine, Backstreets and other publications. He is a three-time winner of the Asbury Music Award for Top Music Journalist and the author of Beyond the Palace (the first book on the history of rock and roll in Asbury Park) and Are You Listening? The Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists. In addition, he runs New Jersey Stage and the online radio station The Penguin Rocks. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.