On the outside, the interfaith comedic coupling of Lahna Turner and Ralphie May seems like an odd match: Lahna is a stunning Jewish Canadian who blends witty spoken-word pieces with off-color songs, while Ralphie is a morbidly obese Southern comic who delivers jokes with hip-hop flava and subscribes to Flip Wilson's Church of What's Happenin' Now.
The incongruous couple infrequently appear together on the same bill in Los Angeles because of their divergent comedy styles and conflicting road schedules, but this weekend finds them sharing the stage in a rare double bill at the Irvine Improv.
When they first met in 1999 at the Laugh Stop in Houston, Lahna was initially turned off by Ralphie's 400-pound frame.
"As I got to know him I started to fall in love with him," Lahna said, "and I thought it was really shallow of me to not date him because of his weight."
Lahna later followed Ralphie to Hollywood, where he wrote for Jay Mohr and was mentored by Buddy Hackett.
"Buddy said, 'Oh my God, you're dating a Jew broad? Run, run. Their mothers are never happy,'" Ralphie said.
Lahna admits her mother wasn't crazy about Ralphie at first.
"My parents would have preferred me to hook up with a Jewish doctor," she said. "My mom once tried to fix me up with her gynecologist."
Ralphie was a fan favorite and finished second on the 2003 reality TV series, "Last Comic Standing," which featured 10 comics living together in a Hollywood Hills home and competing against each other for an NBC development deal.
The two now live in a home near the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Pico-Robertson, where Arkansas-raised Ralphie is still adjusting to the culture shock. He said he likes most Jewish food, "but smoked whitefish freaks me out."
After sitting shiva for Hackett in July, Ralphie joined celebrities like Al Roker and Carnie Wilson by undergoing gastric bypass surgery to finally lose the weight. Lahna said Ralphie has lost 130 pounds in the last four months.
The couple got engaged in February, and Lahna said they'll set the date "as soon as he's able to buy a tuxedo off the rack."
Ralphie May and Lahna Turner perform Fri, 8:30 and 10:30 p.m., and Sat., 7, 9 and 11 p.m. $20. Irvine Improv, 71 Fortune Drive, Irvine. (949) 854-5455.
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