Six Questions: Stand-Up Comic Ralphie May on Imo's Pizza, Budweiser and Fatherhood

Ralphie May thought life on the road was tough enough. Now his two-year-old daughter, April June, and eight-month-old son, August, are teaching the Last Comic Standing vet just how grueling -- and rewarding -- the journey can be. May comes to St. Louis with a show at 8 p.m. Friday, February 26 at the Roberts Orpheum Theater (416 N. 9th Street.) Tickets are $29.50. For more details call 314-588-0388.

How has offstage reaction been to your "Iraq, Terrorism and Mullets" aka "Don't Mess with St. Louis" bit?
People love it. They're like, "Yeah if you messed up the distribution of Budweiser beer across America, those dudes would be irate!" I have so many people from Budweiser that are like, "Dude, we love that bit. We played that at several meetings. And we love it; we think you're great!" And I'm like, "Great, why don't you sponsor my comedy tour?" It never comes through.

St. Louis is a great town. The people there love to eat like nobody's business. I got introduced to butter burgers. Holy smokes! I was like, "Why is this the first time I'm having this? It's amazing!" I used to go up and watch Cards games when I was a kid. My grandfather would take us up there from Arkansas where we lived, and it was one of the big places to go every summer for two or three days. It was tremendous. I think Imo's is the best pizza in the country. Every piece is like a playing card. I don't know how they get the crust that thin, I don't know the deal with the cheese, but I know it's fantastic pizza. When I get to the hotel that's what I'm ordering for dinner. Gonna be awesome.

Ralphie May: A big man. He comes to St. Louis on February 26.
Ralphie May: A big man. He comes to St. Louis on February 26.
Has your daughter seen you perform live or on video?
She was like seven months when one of my specials came on. She just stopped and was like, "Whoa, there's Daddy on TV and there's Daddy right here. What's going on?" She actually likes the stage. My wife Lahna and I perform a lot together. When we first had the baby, we would do the switch off on-stage. I'd carry April on, and she'd carry her off. April got to be where she wanted to be on stage more. She wanted to make people laugh or do a little dance. And it's like, "OK, you're gonna get off stage now?" We were nervous we were becoming stage parents.

We want our babies to grow up to be doctors and lawyers. We don't want them to be comedians. Comics are a little damaged. But we wanted to expose them to crowds because the number-one fear amongst the general population is public speaking. We didn't want her or August to have any fears, so we bring them on stage sometimes, but we're not pushing them to be in show business. We just want them to conquer that fear.

Has fatherhood influenced your writing?
If I can't outdo Mister Cosby, why should I try to do family material? He did it the best and if I don't have something different to say, then I should probably keep to doing what I'm doing.

Are you still able to write the same prolific amount?

I've got everything compartmentalized. I've got all my topical stuff from 2009: bearing witness to the miracle of the Hudson, Barack Obama, Michael Jackson and Tiger Woods. It was a fun news year. I was really nervous about getting anything new to write about for the last quarter, then all that stuff with Tiger Woods happened and I was like, "Awesome! Here's a new seven minutes!" Someone's gotta bust his stones; it might as well be me. I personally think he needs to golf more and just own it. Get out there and go, "Yeah, I'm a filthy animal and I'm gonna come in your town and bang all the women and then I'm gonna win a golf championship and there's nothing you can do about either." Got to own it, dude. America loves a winner more than they hate a cheater.

Any other projects coming down the pipeline?
They're talking about bringing Last Comic Standing back and me being the host. I'm like, "I don't know, man." Come on, it had a good run, let it die. I've got a movie coming out this year called Best and Brightest with Neil Patrick Harris and Amy Sedaris. The first day we got there everyone's coming up and asking Neil Patrick Harris questions about Doogie Howser and How I Met Your Mother. I go, "My daughter is addicted to Sesame Street and I've seen the episode when you played the Fairy Shoeperson and Telly gets new shoes about a hundred and something times. I know the song." I start to sing and he gets up and starts singing it with me, and we start doing the dance he did. People are cracking up and they start rolling cameras. They say they got a print of it for the DVD extras. Supposedly I'm getting a tape so I can show April that I'm dancing with the Fairy Shoeperson.

You have a packed touring schedule coming up.
Oh yeah, it's ridiculous. So many theaters! We just got back late last night from Austin, Atlanta and Greensboro, North Carolina. On the drive back we had to take a four-hour detour because a rockslide shut I-40 down in both directions.
You get in at midnight, load all the babies out, unload the car, and you're dog-tired. It's like, "Isn't this glamorous? Isn't show business awesome?" You're driving 12 hours with screaming babies, and we have to stop 'cause they gotta run, goof off and play. We'll stop at a nice park, get sunshine and eat our lunch there instead of a restaurant. Let 'em just go bananas then fall asleep for a couple more hours. We don't like them to watch a bunch of videos. We've got the DVD players in the car, but I don't think it's good to have Ice Age or Happy Feet or Peter Pan or Mary Poppins babysit our kids for us. I might be a dirty, filthy, cussing headliner, but I know multiple verses to "Row Row Row Your Boat" and "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." When I should be reading magazines for work, I'm reading Walter the Farting Dog, who saved his family from the burglars by the use of his amazing farts.

But I am overjoyed with fatherhood. Overjoyed and overwhelmed.
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