Ralphie Mae sure feels like he’s got it made

Published on April 1st, 2021

By Jim Dail


Ralphie Mae has quite a life. He is hugely successful, constantly in demand and has a great family.

“Who is doing better than me,” he asked during a recent telephone interview. “I got the career I wanted, the wife I wanted, the children I wanted and I wanted to make people laugh.”

May will be doing just that at Spotlight Casino 29 on Saturday, March 28.

For May it actually started with watching the news with his grandmother, who he clearly cherishes.

“I was mischievous and pretty funny as a kid,” he said. “My grandmother made me watch the news, so I was always on topic and we talked about things so I was being taught politics, history, and sociology by my grandmother. She was a much smarter woman than I.”

If was from her that he really caught on to the fact watching people can lead to more understanding and humor.

“She was incredible, and she taught me to observe people and you will see that they will do what they did before because they are people,” he said. “It’s a good thing to know and not everyone does. She was a wise woman.”

He pretty much knew where he was going at a young age.

“My story was not divine intervention, honestly,” he said. “I was going to high school and college at the same time and a group of us would get together, and in the fall semester of 1989 I was invited to Shakey’s Pizza, and they had an open mic contest. The winner got free food for the table and $50. I won and I also [had fun with a girl] by a dumpster. I said ‘[forget] college!”

He wound up opening a show for Sam Kinison, one of his idols. From there, it was success, and he thinks it’s pretty simple: People want to laugh.

“Comedy after the boom of the ‘80s got into in 1990 which was when the boom ended, and I saw the bust period where clubs were closing and comedy kind of went underground,” he said. “Then everyone was stressed out with all the gloom and doom news with war and trauma. Television went cheap and did all these reality shows that were all drama. There was nothing for people to laugh at, so they went back to the club and went out looking for places to laugh. That is the beauty of stand up that people can come laugh. If people are hungry for something, they will find it and keep doing it.”

And he is very proud of his the heritage of good comedy.

“Guys like Bill Hicks, Richard Pryor, Jackie Gleason and Buddy Hackett were all committed and all excelled and were just special,” he said. “I kind of see myself as taking the ferociousness of Sam Kinison and melding it with Jerry Clower. Clower was a genius and he doesn’t get credit because he was on Hee Haw.”

The only regret is that his grandmother didn’t see the immense success and fame.

“Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s came over her before she got to see me that way, but she would have loved it,” he said. “When she was growing up in the ‘20s, she wanted to go to law school but they wouldn’t let a woman in, so she started four businesses during the Depression and at one time was the largest employer in Northwest Arkansas. She was a smart, no BS kind of woman, and she really influenced me.”

And it has worked well.

“Again, no one has it better than me,” he said


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