April 26, 1965
Kevin James Overview:
Citing Robert Klein
as his biggest comedic influence, Kevin James has made a career out of being a nice guy. His comedy is clean and never mean-spirited, instead focusing on observational humor and physicality to score laughs. In his stand-up as well as in his TV and film work, James has always remained accessibly working class, making him relatable to audiences on top of being really funny.
Quick Kevin James Overview:
- Kevin James was born and raised in Stony Brook, New York.
- He began performing stand-up in the late 1980s and toured the club circuit for years before his big break.
- In 1998, James co-created and starred on his own CBS sitcom, The King of Queens. It ran for nine seasons.
- James' first comedy special, Sweat the Small Stuff, debuted on Comedy Central in 2001.
- In 2005, James made his feature film debut in the Will Smith romantic comedy Hitch.
- In 2009, James headlined the comedy Paul Blart: Mall Cop.
Early Kevin James:
Kevin James, born Kevin George Knipfing, arrived in the world in April of 1965. Born and raised in Stony Brook, New York, James grew up an athlete. He wrestled in high school and played fullback on the football team while attending Cortland University as a sports medicine major. Eventually deciding it wasn't the direction he wanted his life to go, James left college and began doing community theater and improv comedy. It was then that James got the comedy bug.
Kevin James: Stand-up:
James' first stand-up performance was in 1989 at a Manhattan club; from there, it was non-stop comedy with James touring the club circuit and making appearances on talk shows like The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
and Late Night with Conan O'Brien
. During his days as a touring stand-up, James met and befriended another comedian, Ray Romano. After a hugely successful performance at the 1996 Montreal Just for Laughs Festival, James received his own TV development deal and a recurring role on Romano's sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond
playing the character of Doug Heffernan.
The King of Queens:
In 1998, James' own sitcom, The King of Queens
, debuted on CBS. The comedian reprised the role of Doug Heffernan, a blue-collar delivery driver living with his wife (Leah Remini) and her father (comedian Jerry Stiller). The show was a quick success and ran for nine seasons before ending in 2007, and scored James an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series in 2006.
Kevin James on Film:
James recorded his first (and only) stand-up special, Sweat the Small Stuff, for Comedy Central in 2001.
In 2005, James made the leap to the big screen with a supporting role in the Will Smith romantic comedy Hitch. The film was a huge hit and James garnered extremely positive reviews for his work.
In 2007, James co-starred with Adam Sandler in the comedy I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, a film (sort of) addressing the issue of same-sex marriage. The film scored another hit for James and began a successful partnership with Sandler.
In 2009, James got his first starring role in the Adam Sandler-produced Paul Blart: Mall Cop. The movie was a surprise smash and went on to gross $137 million in the U.S., cementing James' status as a comedic leading man.
In 2010, he costarred alongside Sandler, David Spade, Chris Rock and Rob Schneider in the comedy Grown Ups.
Additional Kevin James Facts:
- James was named #89 in a Comedy Central poll of the 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time.
- His brother, Gary Valentine, is also a comedian and co-starred on The King of Queens as Heffernan's cousin Danny.
- In high school, James wrestled on the same team as future WWE superstar Mick Foley.
- In addition to The King of Queens and Everybody Loves Raymond, James played the character of Doug Heffernan on CBS sitcoms Becker and Cosby.