Ralphie May, the stand-up comedian who turned a second-place finish on Last Comic Standing into a successful career in comedy, died Friday in Las Vegas. He was 45.
May died of cardiac arrest following a brief battle with pneumonia, Variety reports. In September, May canceled a string of dates from his Unruly stand-up tour due to illness.
“We are heartbroken to announce the untimely death of our friend, Ralphie May. Ralphie had been battling pneumonia and had cancelled a handful of dates over the last month in an effort to recover. Earlier this morning at a private residence in Las Vegas his body was discovered, cause of death is cardiac arrest,” the comedian’s rep said in a statement posted on Facebook.
“Two days ago he won the Casino Comedian of the Year at the Global Gaming Expo and had performances throughout the remainder of 2017 as part of his residency at Harrah’s Las Vegas.”
On September 22nd, after canceling a Colorado Springs concert, May wrote on Facebook, “I can’t shake this bronchitis and the altitude is no joke.”
Known for his distinct delivery and outsized personality and stage presence, May finished second on the inaugural season of Last Comic Standing in 2003. Over the next 15 years, the Arkansas-raised May went on to star in four Comedy Central comedy specials as well as a pair of Netflix specials, Imperfectly Yours and Unruly. In 2016, May appeared alongside Amy Schumer, another one-time Last Comic Standing contestant, in an Inside Amy Schumer sketch.
Following news of May’s death, dozens in the comedy community paid tribute to the stand-up on social media.
“Wow….I was just told that Ralphie May passed. I’m truly saddened by this. He was a good dude. Heaven just got another funny angel RIP man,” Kevin Hart tweeted, while Marc Maron wrote, “Damn. RIP Ralphie May. Comic warrior.”
“Ralphie May RIP funny man. We shared good talks & good laughs . See you on the other side kid,” Jim Breuer wrote. Ken Jeong tweeted, ” This hurts too much. @Ralphie_May helped me so much. Rest In Peace. Thank you for all the love you have given me. Thank you for everything.”