Like Ray Romano, he got his start in stand-up comedy. He credits his "Everybody Loves Raymond" co-star Doris Roberts as his acting mentor. He was usually only casted in roles that required a large towering figure and/or a deep thunderous voice--more of a prop or gimmick than an official actor until he was cast as the elder (and envious) brother on "Everybody Loves Raymond." He specifically chose to audition for "Everybody Loves Raymond" as he thought the script written by Ray Romano and Phillip Rosenthal was one of the best-written things he'd come across--even refusing doing pilots that had already big-names attached to them. He specifically refused to do a spin-off of "Everybody Loves Raymond" centered entirely around his character. He was cast on the short-lived sit-com "Til Death" which only lasted four seasons.