Kevin James is starting from scratch. With his CBS sitcom, “Kevin Can Wait,” canceled last year after its second season and no movies in the can, the Stony Brook- and Mineola-raised comedian returned to stand-up with a six-show run at Governor's Comedy Club in Levittown, which kicked off Wednesday night and runs through Saturday. The sold-out shows are called “Trying It Out!” in a nod to James testing out new material on his home turf.
“I’m just trying some new stuff,” said James, 53, who worked off a notebook casually dressed in all black, wearing a baseball cap and freshly grown beard. “If you don’t like it, you’ll tell me. Trust me: I know Long Island!”
Despite his celebrity, James has a relatable quality and shared a shorthand with the middle-aged crowd.
“I’m trying to lose weight and it’s a constant battle,” admitted James, who lives with his wife and four kids in Nassau County. “You know it’s time to lose weight when you get in an elevator and it does that bounce. People start looking at the weight capacity sign. Then the doors shut and suddenly a woman behind me starts praying in Latin.”
When he did a bit about guys who wear foot-shaped Vibram FiveFinger shoes and got some polite applause, he stopped the crowd.
“Don’t give it to me," he admonished. "Make me work for it. This is me working out in the gym.”
His material about food continued to crush, drawing huge laughs.
“Everybody is trying to get me to eat fish. I think people who eat fish are part of a cult that they try to get you to join,” James said. “They are always saying, ‘Try my fish! It’s not even fishy.’ You know what’s not fishy? Steak and cupcakes!”
Like his friend and fellow comedian Ray Romano, James’ material is clean and family-oriented. There are no alcohol, drug or sex references — not even a casual curse word slips out.
At the end of his 40-minute set, the crowd called out the names of some his old bits — including “greeting cards” and “underwear” — and James gladly obliged.
“Long Island, you are the best,” said James. “Thank you for coming out tonight!”