Kevin James got his start in stand-up comedy on Long Island, and in movies (“Paul Blart: Mall Cop”) and on TV (“The King of Queens”), he usually plays an everyday guy trying to make sense of the world.
When his television series “Kevin Can Wait” was canceled in 2018 after two seasons on CBS, he found himself with more time to write material for a new stand-up show.
The tour, which visits Stifel Theatre on Friday, will result in a Netflix comedy special.
James, 54, recently grew a monster-size beard for roles in two movies, co-starring with Adam Sandler in Netflix’s “Hubie Halloween” and as a bad guy in action thriller “Becky.” Both are in post-production.
In January, he begins filming for a new Netflix comedy series called “The Crew,” in which he plays a NASCAR crew chief. He spoke to us from his home office in Long Island.
Q • You’ve got two stand-up shows on Netflix: “Never Don’t Give Up” from 2018 and “Sweat the Small Stuff” from 2001. Tell me about the new show.
A • It’s a totally new show. One, when you do an extra special, you have to get rid of all that material. Once I did that, I was able to really dive back into stand-up, to really put in the time. And now I’ve been touring, and we’ve been having a blast with it.
I talk about my family — just the culture. It’s a potpourri, if you will. I’m not sure of the definition of potpourri.
Q • I think potpourri is some smelly stuff that smells good.
A • It does, which it is.
Q • Tell me about the Netflix series.
A • I play the chief of a pit crew of a NASCAR team. And we have a race team, and we’re competing every week with this family of people that try to shave down their car and their time and try to win some championships, and it’s just an exciting new world for me. I’m learning more and more about it every day.
Q • Are you a NASCAR fan?
A • I’ve been to some races to say, “Gentlemen, start your engines,” and each time you’re there, it’s insane the sound, the speed, the power, the crowds ... and I’m trying to figure it out. I’m trying to figure out all the techniques. They stop at the pit stop, and they do different things to shave off seconds — it’s a strategy to the whole thing. That’s what I’m studying now. The more and more I watch, I’m like, this is insane. And it’s crazy dangerous.
Q • Are you going to get to race for the series?
A • I’m hoping to. We’re starting to work on the episodes very soon. I’m going to tell them I want to race.
Q • What’s going on with the beard? Do you still have it?
A • The beard is gone. It’s not gone completely. It’s trimmed down. It’s very tight now. It was getting too big; it wanted its own dressing room.
Q • Let’s go back to your tour. As far as stand-up, you don’t really address politics or big issues onstage.
A • I don’t, I don’t. There’s too much other stuff to have fun with where people connect. I think people are trying to get a break and get away from their lives.
I’m excited to come to St. Louis. I’m a big fan of the city, and I always have been. Outside of my Mets, I really love the Cardinals.
Q • Maybe we’ll still be playing.
A • I know we won’t (laughs). I’m happy for you.
When 7:30 p.m. Friday • Where Stifel Theatre, 1400 Market Street • How much $42-$72 • More info ticketmaster.com