|Ralphie May: Just Correct|
|Written by Bryan Dailey|
|Tuesday, 10 February 2004|
I love stand-up comedy. I have Sirius Satellite radio that has two comedy channels and I find myself listening to hours and hours of stand-up comedy bits every week as I drive to work. As much as I enjoy listening to these little snapshots of comedy, nothing beats an hour-plus-long set from a great comedian. With the popularity of the DVD format, we are sure to see more and more stand-up comedians filming their shows and releasing videos. Live stand-up comedy is one of the purest forms of entertainment. A singer can go into the studio and a producer can fix and tweak things until it is perfect. Guitar players in a band can turn their instrument down and musically hide behind the drummer or bass player. If a stand-up comedian bombs, there is one to hide behind.
Some comedians command the audience’s attention with their energy on stage. Ralphie May does it with great material and his large stature. He is a large man, but he does not make his size a major portion of his act. Too often, a comedian with an “angle,” whether it is the fact that they are gay or fat or handicapped, will make that the single focus of their comedy. May does his fair share of fat guys jokes, but he has too much talent and depth in his material to make it the single focus of his act.
I first saw Ralphie May on the Jimmy Kimmel Live show last year where he came out and killed in front of a live studio and national audience. He then got a bigger break as a contestant on the NBC reality show The Last Comic Standing, created by comedian Jay Mohr. Although May did not win the show, he got enough notoriety that he is now headlining shows at big casinos in Vegas. In the competitive stand-up comedy world, you don’t land gigs like that if you are a hack. While May didn’t win The Last Comic Standing, he has seemingly had a much brighter career than the show’s winner, Dat Phan.
For those of you who are not familiar with Ralphie May, his act can be summed up simply as “a fat white guy from the South moves to the ghetto in Los Angeles and hijinks ensue.” Living amongst a multitude of ethnicities in the most diverse city in the world, May pokes fun at blacks, whites, Latinos, gays and just about every other minority group, yet it’s obvious that he’s not coming from a place of anger. His comedy hits you in the face, then he steps back and literally tells the audience in a bold manner, “Lighten up, it’s a fu**ing joke!”
Just Correct, May’s first stand-up comedy DVD, was filmed live at the famous Laugh Factory on the Sunset Strip. Along with the Comedy Store down the street on Sunset and the Melrose Ave. Improv, Los Angeles has long been one of the best places for stand-up comedians to be seen by real talent scouts. Jay Leno, David Letterman, Richard Pryor, Andrew Dice Clay and countless other stand-up comedians, who went on to much bigger and better things, cut their teeth on the sometimes mean stages of these clubs. May has been on the stand-up circuit for quite some time, yet his recent exposure on NBC and ABC no doubt helped get the suits at Universal excited about releasing his comedy DVD.
The title “Just Correct” comes from the main theme of his act on the DVD. Rather than be politically correct, Ralphie has decided that he wants to be “Just correct” and tell things like they are. The comedy is very timely as he has bits about Kobe Bryant, Siegfried and Roy and Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston. These are all very funny, but it’s his impression of a hard-core Latino gangster than shines as some of the funniest moments on the DVD. Other classic bits on the disc include May talking about ordering fast food in the ghetto, the subtle way that white people discriminate against all races and how fat people are the last group that it is seemingly okay to make fun of.
There isn’t much more to the DVD than May standing on stage doing his act and a few backstage moments, so the picture is presented in a 1.33:1 full screen aspect ratio. The blue background and May’s very large red football jersey provide a lot of visual pop. The house lights were very bright that day and you can see so much detail in the DVD that it’s actually possible to see the makeup on his face. Usually stand-up comedy videos are shot on large stages rather than at an extremely well-lit, relatively small comedy club.
Being of such girth, Ralphie does not move around on stage a lot, but his delivery is rapid fire and you get the sense that he could handle any heckler or put down “yo mamma” so fast it will make your head spin if you tried to challenge him to a verbal battle. His comedy transcends his size and you go from thinking of him as a big heavy comedian to just a funny guy on stage with a mike and some killer jokes and stories.