The comedian shared how he reacted to the meme on Tuesday's episode of 'The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon'
Kevin James knows he’s the king of memes.
The actor appeared on Tuesday's episode of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, during which the host, 49, said he’d be remiss not to ask James, 58, how he reacted to an old photo from his time on The King of Queens circulating the internet and becoming a meme.
As Fallon said he “had to talk to him” about the viral moment, the comedian simply shook his head and cracked a smile once the photo appeared and the audience started cheering.
The Emmy winner admitted that he did remember posing for the shot when it was taken during the early days of the series, which ran from 1998 to 2007. “When you first get a sitcom, you just listen to anybody. You’re just so happy to be there,” James said.
“The photographer, he was just telling me to do goofy things,” he continued, referring to his sheepish smirk and pose with slightly shrugged shoulders and his hands in his pocket in the image. “He was like, ‘Smile. Now like you’re sexy, now like you’re shy, but now you’re kind of …' and I got into this position where I’m like, ‘What the hell am I doing?’”
The Kevin Can Wait star shared that, even then, he tried to make sure that the photo would never see the light of day. “I said, ‘Well, please bury that one,’ and he goes, ‘Yeah, no worries. That one won’t come back,’” James reflected, prompting Fallon and the crowd to laugh.
He added, “25 years later, the thing pops up.”
The late night host then pulled up a handful of posts on X (formerly known as Twitter) featuring the meme. “When I cook for new people and somebody say, "Damn you made this?!" one read, while the other said, “me when my friend posts a screenshot of our text messages on their story so everyone can see how funny i am.”
James himself laughed, while adding, “It’s so, so dumb.”
The Tonight Show episode also featured a hilarious skit with James and Fallon both recreating the pose from the meme.
In the clip, the actor wears a flannel similar to the one in the original image, and it's as if he's inexplicably stuck in the pose. Eventually, he's not the only one replicating the image, as it starts to spread like a meme zombie apocalypse, catching Fallon, Questlove of The Roots and a whole slew of people.
Months before the TV star shared his reaction to the meme, his former costar on The King of Queens, Leah Remini, revealed that she had seen it back in September. While the posts were surfacing across social media, she took to X and wrote, “I wanted to let you all know I’m seeing all of The King of Queens memes and tweets and I absolutely love them”
The actress, 53, added: “Thank you for 25 years of amazing memories!”
The meme took off online shortly the beloved CBS comedy celebrated its 25th anniversary.
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The series premiered in September 1998 and ran for nine seasons — and continues to remain a cult-loved sitcom. It followed middle-class married couple Doug (James) and Carrie Heffernan (Remini) as they lived in Queens, New York with the latter's father, Arthur Spooner (portrayed by the late Jerry Stiller).
Upon the milestone anniversary, Remini shared a heartfelt tribute on Instagram, reflecting on the “truly special show” and her love for her costars.
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