Comedian Ralphie May died on October 6 at age 45. He is survived by his wife, fellow comic Lahna Turner, and their two children, April June May and August James May. They were married for 10 years.
“I loved Ralphie with all my heart. We shared a wonderful life and made beautiful children together,” Turner wrote on Twitter. “No one has ever made me laugh or cry harder. You will always be with us. Rest in peace my sweet.”
May’s death was first reported by TMZ. The site reported that he was suffering from pneumonia for the past six weeks, but kept performing through the illness. The cause of death was cardiac arrest.
May’s death was confirmed by his representatives on his Twitter page. They confirmed that he was found dead in his private residence in Las Vegas, two days after winning the Casino Comedian of the Year award at the Global Gaming Expo. He also had a residency at Harrah’s Las Vegas.
“As his manager and his friend, I will miss his laugh, his generosity to fellow comedians, his trademark orneriness, and his enormous love of life,” May’s manager, Judi Marmel, told TMZ. “He left us entirely too soon — and we can only wonder where his comedy might have taken all of us. We send our love to his family, his fans, and all the comics who shared stages with him across the country.”
May shot to fame after finishing second on Last Comic Standing. He starred in stand-up comedy specials for Comedy Central and Netflix, and never stopped touring.
Here’s what you need to know about Turner and her relationship with May.
1. May Filed for Divorce From Turner in 2015
After May’s death, Turner tweeted about how much she loved the comedian. She pinned a photo of the two together to her page, writing, “I selected this photo because Ralphie looks like an angel with a halo.”
“I loved Ralphie with all my heart. We shared a wonderful life and made beautiful children together,” she added. “No one has ever made me laugh or cry harder. You will always be with us. Rest in peace my sweet.”
She cited irreconcilable differences in the divorce and was asking for sole physical custody of their kids. She was also asking for joint legal custody.
At the time of May’s death, the divorce was still not finalized. Turner, who also writes comedic songs, wrote about the divorce for Laugh Spin. She wrote that May was “never quite the same” after he was hospitalized for pulmonary embolisms.
“On the Friday before Memorial Day 2015, I got served with divorce papers. I had no idea it was coming. I had just been on the phone with Ralphie about an hour before and I thought it was a productive call. I hung up and it was like ding-dong divorce papers,” Turner wrote. “And then I lost it. I really did. I was barely able to function.”
Turner wrote that she spent part of the marriage trying to get the May healthy, even though he didn’t want to lose weight.
“For years, I was trying to force a man who didn’t want to get well to get well and juggling all these plates that were constantly crashing down,” Turner wrote. “Now I feel like if I just work really hard and do the right things, work on myself and take care of my children, it’s going to be okay.”
In a May 2016 report, TMZ reported that May claimed in documents that Turner destroyed their Ketubah, the Jewish marriage contract, in front of him and the children. He also claimed she cursed at him and ttore photos off the wall.
In February 2017, TMZ obtained documents from the divorce, in which Turner claimed May was abusive, suicidal and used drugs. She claimed May couldn’t be left around their children alone.
She also claimed in the documents that May was physically abusive towards her. Turner also wanted a restraining order, and the judge denied her request. His representatives told TMZ that they couldn’t comment “due to legal constraints.”
In March 2017, TMZ obtained more documents that confirmed Turner was getting temporary sole custody of the children and May agreed to take random drug tests twice a month.
2. She Created a ‘Comedic Homage’ to Beyonce’s ‘Lemonade’ Called ‘Limeade’
Turner’s most recent project is Limeade, a “comedic homage” to Beyonce Knowles’ Lemonade album. The half-hour project is available on YouTube in its entirety. In a statement on the YouTube page, she writes that the project explores her response to the divorce.
“The album and the visual album is going to help me get on with my life professionally, I believe. It’s good,” Turner told Splitsider in a December 2016 interview. “It’s allowed me to discover myself professionally. Being with another comedian, especially a successful one, people always wonder, ‘Does he write your material?’ There’s no question that it was all me, and now this gives me more professional independence.”
In that Splitsider interview, Turner said she was inspired to create the film after the divorce. They knew each other for seven years and she was surprised when he filed for divorce. She became depressed and needed to do something.
“When he filed for divorce, I was shocked, but anyways, he served me with divorce papers, it’s been over a year, and I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “He and I had been together for over 17 years, and I never would have left him, but that happened. It just really threw me and I don’t know, it inspired… I was really depressed for a long time.”
Turner’s other albums include 2004’s Dick Jokes & Other Assorted Love Songs and 2012’s If These Lips Could Talk.
3. She Appeared in the 2014 Indie Comedy ‘Teacher of the Year’
Turner has a few acting credits to her name, including the 2014 film Teacher of the Year. The film starred Keegan-Michael Key and was written and directed by Jason Strouse. Although made in 2014, it was finally released in June 2016.
Tuner’s other credits include This Is Meg, a 2017 movie with Krista Allen; and the upcoming Brand New Old Love, written and directed by Cat Rhinehart.
The comedian was also a producer on May’s 2013 comedy special, Ralphie May: Imperfectly Yours. She also wrote and starred in her own 2013 special, So I Wrote A Song About It.
As The Interrobang reported in 2013, So I Wrote A Song About It was supposed to be the start of a relationship between the couple and Hulu. May’s Filthy Animals special was also part of that deal.
4. Turner & May Worked on the ‘Perfect 10’ Podcast Together
May and Turner did work together professionally during their marriage. They worked on a podcast called Perfect 10. Turner still records a podcast using that name.
“We love doing it,” May told Las Vegas Weekly about the podcast in a May 2013 interview. “It’s fun, it’s something different, it’s something that my wife and I get to work on. And I think it’s different than a lot of podcasts. We do a lot of crazy sh*t, and have a lot of fun and it’s a real blast.”
“She’s a comedian, but really she’s so much more a hell of a f*cking woman,” May said of Turner in that 2013 interview. “She’s an amazing mom; an amazing performer.”
In a 2015 interview with Bendsource before the divorce, May said touring without his family takes a toll.
“You miss the things that matter,” May said. “From pulling teeth to being there in the night for nightmares, snuggles. To sports triumphs, school triumphs. Shows. Things you should be a part of as a parent. Bathing and getting dressed and brushing the teeth of your children and reading stories before bedtime. You know, and that’s what it’s really about, man.”
In a 2015 interview with The Comics Comic, Turner said they met at during an open mic night at the now-closed Houston club Laff Stop.
5. Turner & May Had 2 Children Together, April June & August James
During their 10-year marriage, May and Turner became the parents of two children, daughter April June May and son August James May.
People Magazine reported that April June was born on September 5, 2007. She weighed 6 pounds, 11 ounces.
Two years later, People Magazine reported that May and Turner welcomed their second child, August James May, on June 24, 2009. He was born in Nashville, weighing 8 pounds, 7 ounces.
In her Splitsider interview, Turner said her children are hilarious and have been a good inspiration for her material.
“They’re really good for material, they’re hilarious, but just the logistics of being a single mom and raising two kids and trying to do standup is pretty hard,” she said. “I don’t get a lot of sleep.”