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Kevin James Has Gone Viral And No One Knows Why

Photo: s_bukley / Shutterstock; Tima Miroshnichenko, Jupiterimages / Canva; @0boymeetsworld / Facebook; Tony Esparza / CBS Photo Archive / Getty Images; Knowyourmeme.com
kevin james viral meme

It’s time to talk about that viral photo — no, not Taylor Swift at the Kansas City Chiefs game supporting her new beau Travis Kelce. We're talking about the Kevin James stock photo from the set of "King of Queens" that everyone has turned into a meme.

Most young people probably have no idea what "King of Queens" is, and yet they’ve turned a Getty Image into a reaction photo that has spread like wildfire. Just scroll on your X (formerly Twitter) timeline for a few minutes and you’re sure to find one.

The question on everyone’s mind seems to be… why? The show aired in 1998 and was canceled in 2007, so why are we laughing about a stock image that was shot more than 25 years ago?

Nobody knows why a Kevin James stock photo from 'King of Queens' has become a viral meme.

"King of Queens" recently celebrated their 25th anniversary, but is that enough to spark the revival of a photo from the set?

The Kevin James meme photo was shot by photographer Tony Esparzam for the CBS Photo Archive on January 1st, 1998, according to Know Your Meme. The first known post on X came on September 21, 2023, from a user named @ChampagneAnyone.

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The caption read “me after 1 double rum and diet” and featured the Kevin James meme photo as he leaned on a kitchen counter, smirking in his green and red flannel. It was a simple meme, viewed over 2 million times, but it started a movement that turned every relatable situation into a reactionable post.

It quickly became known as a way to react in a cheeky or confident manner, or an unknowing (sometimes feigned) confused way — almost like shrugging something off. James became the Mona Lisa of the meme community as there’s no one way to decipher the exact emotion he’s conveying, but somehow, every form of the meme being made happens to make sense.

Similar to the Kevin Hart photo that made its rounds earlier this year, the viral phenomenon of James’ moment in the meme spotlight spread to other stock images of his.

One meme reads “Me looking at the self checkout camera as I scan a TV as a banana,” using a photo of James showing off his signature smirk into a security camera as he delivers a package.

Another post reads “when i emerge for girls night,” as James appears to be climbing out of a pothole on a New York City street with steam coming out from the ground.

At the moment, there appears to be no end to the Kevin James meme, and we're not sure why "King of Queens" had so many odd promotional photo shoots. But in an interesting turn, the resurfaced images have become an opportunity for fans to fondly reminisce about the show and the comedians on it.

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Leah Remini once said that Kevin James ‘ruined’ her for life.

Despite the concerning nature behind her statement, it doesn’t mean what you think at all.

“I had Kevin, who has ruined me for life,” she wrote of James in her book, "Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology." “He was my first leading man; and despite doing other shows with other leading men, I’ve never found anyone who could compare favorably to him. When I was acting with him, I felt safe.”

She claimed that the set and environment surrounding the shooting of "King of Queens" felt like a home to her. “I never got bored of saying hi to the guard at the gate of the lot, or seeing my name on my parking spot, or listening to the latest from makeup and hair,” she shared. “The same thing, the same people, week in and week out — the routine was the part I loved. I had a home. Finally.”

This is due in part to the way James treated her and pushed his ego aside when they worked together. She claimed that he would often change the script to give her better jokes or find ways to make her feel more comfortable “in a town full of ego-driven males.”

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Remini thanked everyone in response to the 'King of Queens' meme.

Remini recently posted on X that she was grateful for all of the Kevin James memes and posts that included her and her co-star. “I wanted to let you all know I'm seeing all of The King of Queens memes and tweets and I absolutely love them,” she wrote in her post. “Thank you for 25 years of amazing memories!”

Earlier this month, some cast members celebrated the 25th anniversary of the show — James included.

“25 years ago today, we aired,” he wrote in the caption of his Instagram post. “I am so incredibly blessed to have taken this ride with the insanely talented @leahremini and Jerry Stiller. I love you both so much. and thank you to the GREATEST FANS in the world! LOVE YOU!”

Kevin James responded to his viral meme by using it to promote a stand-up tour.

Although James has been relatively silent about his viral success, he recently made a post promoting a stand-up tour that he’s preparing for by using the meme as a flyer. “The ‘Double Hand in the Pocket’ Tour” is what he dubbed it, using the meme as the promotional centerpiece.

“2 Hands, 2 Pockets,” reads one side of the flyer as the other reads “Almost a smile,” with an arrow pointing to his smirk. “Sheepishly coming to a city near you.”

The 25th anniversary of "King of Queens" could be the reason why this photo resurfaced and turned into a meme. Maybe old fans of the show decided to take a trip down memory lane and stumbled upon a photo they thought to be a little silly, but there’s no way of knowing for sure.

All in all, it seems like everyone’s having fun and reminiscing on a show that they enjoyed.

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Isaac Serna-Diez is an Assistant Editor for YourTango who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics.