Born in Montreal, Quebec, Caroline Rhea launched herself on the path to stardom in 1986, when the then-22-year-old moved to Manhattan and enrolled in the New School for Social Research's standup comedy program. On the side, Rhea cut her chops by practicing at the standup club Catch a Rising Star, and the success of those engagements yielded additional bookings, not simply at Big Apple venues, but on such national television programs as Comic Strip Live and Caroline's Comedy Hour. Rhea segued into scripted television programs and features around 1996, with roles on such sitcoms as Sabrina the Teenage Witch and The Drew Carey Show, before hitting a watershed moment in her career: the launch of her own eponymous series, the talk program The Caroline Rhea Show (which followed her guest-hosting of The Rosie O'Donnell Show).
Unfortunately, Rhea's talk show folded less than a year after its 2002 premiere, but Rhea continued to build her own reputation, with popular standup bookings across the U.S. and Canada, appearances on talk programs such as Live with Regis and Kelly, and small roles in movies. She played Candi in the disastrous Tim Allen holiday comedy Christmas With the Kranks (2004) and Gloria in the Mark Rosman-directed teen movie The Perfect Man (2005), and hosted the popular series The Biggest Loser, a reality series in which contestants compete to determine who can lose the most weight. In 2006, Rhea also hosted the made-for-cable standup special Caroline Rhea: Rhea's Anatomy, which found her offering witty divertissements on such subjects as post-40 pregnancy and age-disparity romances.