Many of us look forward to sitting on our couches at the end of a long day for a few gut-busting laughs–it’s a great way to relax and de-stress, after all. Actor Kevin James brought us tons of those laughs in his role as everyone’s favorite delivery guy, Doug Heffernan.
Not only did he shine in King of Queens, but the acclaimed star also went on to deliver plenty of laughs on the big screen, in movies like Grown-Ups and Paul Blart: Mall Cop. Interestingly enough, he has a little something in common with that mustached mall cop.
Who is Kevin James?
Kevin James was born in 1965 in Mineola, New York. The actor and comedian grew up on Long Island, where he was a student at Ward Melville High School. James always had a passion for sports, and he played tailback for the high school football team. His love for comedy didn’t come until later, when he was attending SUNY Cortland.
James planned to use his incredible talents to develop a career in sports. He majored in sports management, and played for the football team in college. That all changed when James took a public speaking course, and discovered that he might really enjoy entertaining people.
He had his first experience in comedy when he auditioned for a Shoreham-Wading River Community Theater production and landed a funny role. The crowd absolutely loved him, and he was so moved by the whole experience that he didn’t return to SUNY. His brother had an improv group, and James began to hang around with them, learning everything he could about stand-up comedy.
He began to perform regularly at the East Side Comedy Club and eventually became popular at comedy clubs all over Long Island. He met other comedians and made fast friends with Mookie Barker and Ray Romano. While he was building a name for himself, he also worked at a local warehouse to pay the bills.
From stand-up to television to the big screen
James worked hard, learning the ropes and discovering what made audiences laugh until they cried. He fine-tuned his act and spent ten years performing around Long Island before hitting the big venues in New York City. He appeared as a guest on numerous talk shows, including The Tonight Show.
In 1996, he was offered a network development deal. He and longtime friend Ray Romano created a script for a series in which James would play the lead role. That series was King of Queens, and it premiered on CBS in 1998. The show was an instant hit, with an all-star comedic cast including James, Leah Remini, and veteran comedian Jerry Stiller.
King of Queens ran for nine seasons and James was nominated for an Emmy. By this time, James was well-known and beloved by his fans. In 2005, he made his starring film debut on the big screen in the romantic comedy, Hitch. The comedian starred alongside Will Smith, and played a bumbling goofball who needed the help of the far slicker Smith to up his dating game.
In 2007, James appeared in the Adam Sandler film, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. In 2009, the hilarious actor starred in one of his most memorable movies, Paul Blart: Mall Cop. He then joined forces with fellow comedians Chris Rock, David Spade, Rob Schneider, and Adam Sandler for the blockbuster hit, Grown-Ups.
His real name is a tongue twister that makes ‘Paul Blart’ seem simple
Both Paul Blart movies were a big hit with James’ large fan base. The films were filled with silly slapstick humor that elicited endless belly laughs. Even the title character’s name, Paul Blart, was incredibly funny.
James can certainly relate to his character, because his real name is something of a mouthful. The actor’s real name is Kevin George Knipfing. He began using the stage name Kevin James when he was starting out in the comedy clubs back on Long Island. The name was actually inspired by his favorite teacher.
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