It sounds apocryphal, but it's true: 13-year-old Kevin Pollak did begin his Bar Mitzvah speech with "A funny thing happened on the way to the temple..." In fact, Pollak's rabbi had encouraged him to do so: even at this early stage, the boy evinced a gift for comic timing. By 17, he was doing stand-up in his native San Francisco. He went on to play the West Coast comedy-club and improv circuit, and was briefly teamed with Dana Carvey, a professional collaboration that ended amicably when Carvey was hired by Saturday Night Live. Though Pollak himself didn't make it to SNL, he flourished as an impressionist, writer and film and TV supporting actor. He was given several opportunities to shine in such films as Barry Levenson's Avalon (1990), Mick Jackson's LA Story (1991) and Rob Reiner's A Few Good Men (1992). Reiner went on to team Pollak with Bob Amaral in the weekly TVer Morton and Hayes (1991) a hit-and-miss homage to the 2-reel comedies of the 1930s and 1940s (Pollak had previously played a featured role in the short-lived 1988 sitcom Coming of Age). Kevin Pollak's film career went into warp-drive in the 1990s, with such choice roles as Jacob in the two Grumpy Old Men flicks, Todd Hockney in The Usual Suspects (1995), Phillip Green in Casino (1995), and Boss Vic Koss in That Thing You Do (1996).
His film and television career still going strong into the 2000s, Pollak found a way to work his passion for poker into his schedule as host of Bravo's Celebrity Poker Showdown in 2003, and in 2009 he launched a weekly internet series entitled Kevin Pollak's Chat Show.