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'King of Queens' star will show a different side in comedy shows here

Saturday, July 07, 2001

By Adrian McCoy, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

While prime-time TV is on summer break, "The King of Queens" star Kevin James is returning to his roots as a standup comic.

James will be at the Funny Bone at Station Square on Wednesday and Thursday for a nearly sold-out engagement.


WHERE: The Funny Bone, Station Square

WHEN: Wednesdays and Thursday. Show times are 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. A few tickets remain for the 9:30 p.m. Wednesday show.

$26.50; 412-281-3130.



Touring the comedy club circuit wouldn't seem like much of a break for the actor, but he enjoys it. "It's great to get out. It kind of keeps me sharp," says James. "It's actually relaxing for me.

"It's nice because you're living on the edge. You're alone up there. You don't know whether a joke's going to go or not. If it doesn't, you're staring into the [expletive] of fear."

James followed in the footsteps of other standup comics who went on to sitcom stardom. Like many comics, he got his start at open mike nights in clubs.

His big break came after his appearance at the 1996 Montreal Comedy Festival. NBC offered him a development deal for a series. He also landed a recurring role on CBS's "Everybody Loves Raymond." When NBC turned the series down, he took it to CBS, where "King of Queens" debuted in 1998.

In the series, James plays Doug Hefferman, a package delivery guy living in Queens. Leah Remini plays his wife/anchor to reality. Jerry Stiller -- last seen as a sitcom dad on "Seinfeld" -- is his basement-dwelling father-in-law.

For many, the appeal of "King of Queens" is that the characters are so recognizable: Many people live next door to guys like these, or grew up with them. "That's exactly what we want, if they can see themselves in the characters and relate to it.

"There are some shows that have these unbelievable-looking people working in these successful Manhattan jobs. They're out there, too, but there's much more of the blue collar-type worker out there who just kind of does his thing."

Next season, James says, "We're going to dig deeper into the characters and add some characters. We don't want to go too far away from the reality of the show."

James was last here two years ago at the Funny Bone. But this time, he says, audiences will see a different facet of his comedy than the Doug character. "This is more me here."

Those who can't make it to next week's shows can catch his one-hour comedy special, which will air July 23 on Comedy Central.

He's also working on a film project with his friend and fellow comic Ray Romano -- a buddy film they hope to release next year.

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