Kevin James, Meme King (of Queens)

It’s big boy season and there’s no better way to ring it in than a flood of Kevin James memes. In late September, the internet latched onto smirking, mid-‘90s press photos of James promoting his King of Queens character, Doug Heffernan, using the peculiar pics as a new type of situational reaction image.

Instead of the “MFW no GF” sad faces of yesteryear, Gen Z’s comedy has evolved into more abstract, so-literal-it’s-funny humor that only clicks with the right vehicle. In this case, it’s James’ face.

Of particular popularity is every photo showing James shrugging with a smug grin on his face. In most instances, that look would trigger my fight or flight. For James, though, my heart is a bit more open.

The magic behind the Kevin James memes is the relatable and sometimes strange caption that accompanies each photo. In one, James clutches onto the stomach of on-screen wife Leah Remini, apparently the perfect photo to illustrate the passive boyfriend/dominant girlfriend trope.

There’s also images of James flirtatiously biting his lip, illustrative of the guy at the bar who stares at you just a bit too long.

My personal favorites see James posing in a beret, a hat doomed to live as the cousin of the fedora and usually favored by “that guy.” You know what guy I mean.

James isn’t that guy, though, as you can tell from the hardcore boy edit that dresses him in a Sunami shirt.

An unintentional side effect of the memes: I couldn’t help but notice that, 30-ish years ago, James was a normcore icon, though you could argue that James’ swag has never dimmed.

His shoe game has always been particularly strong. Even back in the King of Queens era, he was a loyal Nike head. A photo from 1999 shows a dripped-out James in a simple flannel and jeans combo sporting the crispest blue and white Nikes I’ve ever seen. 

James also loves a good jacket. Broad-shouldered people can attest to the struggle to find the perfect outerwear — it’s tough finding something that doesn’t make you look like a linebacker. James’ steady rotation of track jackets always came in clutch, tying together even his most casual looks.

But James peaked with the gorgeous Harley Davidson camouflage jacket he wore for a David Letterman appearance.

The key to James looking fantastic in even his simplest outfits is the cut of his clothes. He’s a big man with a short frame (5’8”), but his t-shirts never hit below his belt line and his old-school dad jeans are impeccable. Even when he was sporting baggier jeans for the 2008 premiere of You Don’t Mess With the Zohan, they stacked on top of his Adidas sneakers without weighing them down.

The hidden joy in these Kevin James memes lies in their versatility. We all know someone who reminds us of him and we can pick our life experiences out of his smirks and pouts. Also, the best memes are ones that teach us something, and the Kevin-pocalypse reminds us it’s big boy season. Go get you one.

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