There’s no rhyme or reason as to why so much of what we consume on the internet becomes popular. The internet takes hold of something—thanks to a shared whim or collective need for something meaningless over which to seek connection—and a viral meme is born. In today’s edition: photos of Kevin James.
Several different photos of James have been making the rounds on X over the past few days, many of them promotional shots for his turn-of-the-millennium sitcom The King of Queens. But the one that’s getting the most traction is a photo of him with his hands in his pocket and a cringey-mischievous smirk painted across his face, his legs askew—a la Lin-Manuel Miranda. Why? One X user commented on a post asking that same exact question with the simple explanation, “We’re just in a silly goofy mood.”
As with any viral meme, the origins are impossible to trace with certainty, but the website KnowYourMeme.com says that the trend seems to have originated last week. Users began posting a 1998 photo of James on the set of The King of Queens all over social media, with an array of comical captions. One of the first people to post the photo was a user named @champagneanyone, on Sept. 21, with the caption, “me after [one] double rum and diet” accompanied by this random photo of James. It received over 24,000 likes and seems to have launched a meme format with infinite possibilities.
People started using the photo and adding captions that describe scenarios that match the comedian’s stance and facial expression.
Then, social media users started finding different photos of James from the sitcom's press shoots. “They just had Kevin James doing anything for those King of Queens press shoots,” one person posted on X with photos of James coming out of a steaming sewer and another in which he's making that same mischievous smirking face as he holds onto a scaffolding beam.
The trend took a wholesome turn when Ben Stiller, whose late father Jerry Stiller played James’ character’s father-in-law in the show, posted on X to let the cast know how much his dad enjoyed their company. “Chiming in here to say how much my Dad loved working with everyone on this show and how meaningful all those friendships were and are,” Stiller wrote. Leah Remini, who played James’ wife, also posted a clip from the show.
The life cycle of a trend on social media is unpredictable, and this one may not be with us for long. But we’re happy for this random, silly harmless one to stick around.
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