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Kevin James will get back to stand-up roots in St. Pete


Published:   |   Updated: August 22, 2013 at 11:03 AM

Some humorists, who pave their way to film and television stardom via stand-up comedy, hit the stage once again with new material after they become household names. And other famous funnymen would rather do anything but create new bits out of the ether while living in their fortresses of solitude.

During an interview three-years ago, Drew Carey noted that it's way too tough getting back into stand-up after taking an extended hiatus. “Too much heavy lifting for me,” Carey admitted.

Kevin James, who will perform Saturday at the Mahaffey Theater, understands why Carey feels that way.

“I get that,” James said during a phone call from Los Angeles. “But I love stand-up. I did stand-up throughout (his long-running sitcom 'King of Queens'). I just had to pick and choose. I would go to Las Vegas and have fun with it. It's a lot of work, but I wanted to do new material on this tour. I didn't feel right doing what I've been doing a thousand times. I didn't just want to spew out lines I've done again and again. It's been so refreshing doing new material. I feel reinvigorated. I missed doing this so much. It gives you such a rush.”

The amiable and engaging James continues to deliver self-deprecating bits. “I might talk about some people that annoy me, but I primarily just make fun of myself,” James said. “I have no problem being the butt of the joke. I'm the ridiculous one.”

James is busy as always. He's still talking up his latest film, “Grown Ups 2,” which hit screens in mid-July. The film featured his pals Adam Sandler, Chris Rock and David Spade.

James will continue to do movies but he would like to make more time for stand-up. “I love it,” James said. “There's nothing like getting out there on that stage. “I have different stuff to talk about now. I have children, and that changes your life, as far as stand-up goes. It creates a whole new world. I remember talking about school lunch bags earlier in my career as a stand-up, but I can talk about that through my kids. It's a whole new cycle. It's more fun now. Having kids adds so much to your life, particularly when you do stand-up.”

Rendering comedy helps take James' mind off his beloved New York Mets. “All you can do is joke about things with the Mets,” James said. “Buying high-priced free agents has certainly hurt us. We're still paying off Bobby Bonilla. But hopefully things will get better for the Mets. I like (Mets ace hurler) Matt Harvey a lot. I just hope we can start scoring some runs for him. I love baseball.”

Apparently James loves comedy as well since he could be spending much of his free time taking photos of his favorite Mets in Queens. That would be comparable to the aforementioned Carey's passion, photographing soccer matches.

“I can't sit still and just relax,” James said. “I have to work. I love it.”

Perhaps James could get in better shape like he was in when he shot the 2012 film, “Here Comes The Boom.”

“I lost a lot of weight for that movie, but I put it back on for 'Grown Ups,' but that's the kind of actor I am,” James quipped. ”I gained 80 pounds, but I was in incredible shape for 'Here Comes The Boom.' I got in the best shape since I was a kid. I've always struggled with my weight. I just love food. I can't get away from it.”

That might be an issue when he's in St. Petersburg, which will tempt James with a number of fine steak and seafood restaurants.

“I do have an addictive personality,” James said. “I can see myself completely neglecting my kids, but not for food but for binge TV watching.”

James says he loves watching television but rarely watches anything but sports. “But I am embarrassed to say that I've been watching 'The Voice' when I've been working out,” he said. “I hate to admit it, but that's what I've been watching when a Mets game isn't on. I'm just really into it.”

But television will have to wait when James performs. Audiences are revved up to catch James since he hasn't performed much over recent years. “It's nice because when they see you and they know you, they're excited,” James said. “But it's like (Jerry) Seinfeld said. When you're famous, they give you the first minute since they're so happy to see you, but after that you have to be funny. It's not a slam dunk. It's a challenge, and that's something I love, a good challenge.”

KEVIN JAMES

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S., St. Petersburg

Tickets: $52.50, $59.50, $62.50, $69.50 and $75.50; (727) 892-5767 and themahaffey.com

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