For more than 30 years, Fancy Ray McCloney has been a man about town in the Twin Cities.
He’s run for governor of Minnesota, hosted his own wildly successful cable access show, appeared in a Super Bowl commercial, and even went one-on-one with David Hasslehoff on America’s Got Talent. But no matter what he’s up to, Fancy Ray has always been, first and foremost, “the BEST lookin’ man in comedy.”
The one thing he hasn’t done? Release an album.
That officially changes this Friday when Fancy Ray’s debut album, The Best Lookin’ Man in Comedy, is released on local powerhouse Stand Up! Records.
“With everything I’ve done, it’s astonishing I haven’t put something out before now,” says Fancy Ray. “But the moons and the stars all lined up, and this is the perfect time to put out a party record-slash-comedy record.”
While people might not be feeling in the party mood this week, Fancy Ray is hoping to make folks forget about their problems. In fact, the mayors of both Minneapolis and St. Paul will declare this Friday “Fancy Ray Day.” For the few people who may not understand just how deserved this accolade is, here’s a quick history lesson on the man who has referred to himself as “the human chocolate testicle”:
He first caught people’s attention as part of First Avenue’s famed lip sync contest, where he performed Little Richard hits, naturally. Then, in the late ’80s, he made the move to standup, where he quickly became a fixture in all of the comedy clubs in town, standing out because of his larger-than-life presence. But it was when he made his way to public access television that Fancy Ray really became a local celebrity.
“I realized that cable access was a way of being seen,” he remembers. “So I started doing my own show. I had celebrities from Gloria Steinem to Ron Jeremy as guests. It was an instant hit.”
In the years that followed, Fancy Ray became known as one of the most sought-after local TV pitchmen, writing, producing, and starring in ads for everything from butcher shops to Augie’s Cabaret. But he never stopped performing comedy.
“I went out to Los Angeles from about 2003 to 2008, and got on Last Comic Standing and America’s Got Talent. I was on The Tonight Show two times, and then I decided to come back to the Twin Cities.”
These days, Fancy Ray is still doing TV spots and performing onstage, but he also does a lot for his community.
“For probably about 10 years, once a month I go and feed the homeless at Loaves and Fishes in north Minneapolis. And something just happens when I’m there. I put smiles on people’s faces. Sometimes the biggest thing I do is the stuff that’s not seen day to day. Just walking around, shaking hands. I’ll stop and have a conversation with anybody. I’ll take a picture with anybody. I have a message of joy for everybody. It’s just about touching people’s lives.”
As for the album, Fancy Ray says that this it contains highlights from the past 30 years of his career.
“It was 30 years in the making,” he says excitedly. “What you’re seeing and hearing is the best of the best of what I do.”
Though he won’t be able to drive around town all day in a limo (that was the original plan before... you know), Fancy Ray won’t let anything bring him down.
“It’s a celebration of folks who have enjoyed me over the years. You can say the name Fancy Ray and put a light in people’s eyes and a smile on people’s faces. The cities are recognizing it, but in my opinion every day is Fancy Ray day.”