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Ralphie May's pneumonia scare in Tampa: 'I was afraid I was gonna die in my sleep'

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December

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A few weeks ago, we noticed an unusual booking at the Tampa Improv: Ralphie May on three straight Tuesday nights, Dec. 6, 13 and 20.

Ralphie May is a pretty big name in comedy, big enough to sell out Ruth Eckerd Hall. So what was he doing playing the Improv? For three consecutive weeks? On a Tuesday?

Turns out there was crazy story behind the booking. In October, May had contracted walking pneumonia just before boarding the Cowhead Cruise, a trek through the Caribbean hosted by hosted by friend and local shock jock Mike “Cowhead” Calta. On the boat, his pneumonia got significantly worse, and he developed a pulmonary embolism -- blood clots in his lungs.

Immediately after the cruise, May was taken to Tampa General Hospital where, he says, "I was afraid I was gonna die in my sleep." Since then, he's lost more than 40 pounds as he's been recuperating in the Tampa Bay area, living with his in-laws in Sarasota and trying to work up the stamina to get back onstage. When he takes the mic this Tuesday, it’ll have been the longest he’s gone without doing stand-up in 22 years.

We recently sat down with May to talk about his brush with death, his slow recovery and how he discovered a deep love for the Tampa Bay area. Click here for our story.

-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*

[Last modified: Monday, December 5, 2011 3:31pm]

    

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