To most television watchers, Tim Meadows is a master of sketch and series comedy.
If you don’t know him from his multi-character sketch tenure at “Saturday Night Live” (of which Meadows jokes, “not a bad first job in television, right?”) where he developed bits such as “The Ladies Man” (later made into his own starring film vehicle), you know Meadows his principle’s role in ABC’s currently-running, Philly-centric comedy, “The Goldbergs.” You also know Meadows from his recurring roles in other recent series such as “Man with a Plan,” “No Activity,” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and, famously, as another high school principal, in the smash film, “Mean Girls.” All those comic chops makes Meadows a natural for a stand-up comedy gig, the likes of which he’ll do at King of Prussia’s Valley Forge Casino Resort on August 11.
Tim Meadows talks SNL, The Goldbergs and more
“The people I admired most in comedy had a background in sketch work and improve, guys like Robin Williams, Jonathan Winters, even the first casts of ‘SNL,’” says Meadows of considering his earliest options in comedy. “I got a lot of my confidence on stage following their lead in improvisation, learning to follow the rules.” And break some, presumably, as he states that much of his current stand-up gig relies on the dos and don’ts of improv and sketch comedy, and uses the basis of his time with “SNL,” from 1990 to 2000, as a sort of diving board from which to leap high.
“It’s like Eddie Murphy once said, ‘going from ‘SNL’ into any other job in show business is like moving in slow motion because you just get used to this rapid fire pace on a daily basis,” says Meadows. “Everything else after that seems easy, so I’m really glad that ‘SNL’ was my first job.”
Considering the characters that Meadows brought to the fore in those ten years, and whatever writing he took part of in the writing room, does he feel as if he got his due, that he was heard in the writing room? “Nobody’s ever asked me that before. Wow. I do feel as if I got in. Maybe during my first few years I was a little overwhelmed, and trying to fit in, earn my keep. By the fourth season, however, I made sure to be heard more and get and do stuff that represented me, and my sense of humor. I made friends with writers who got me, and I wrote stuff that put me upfront.”
Going forward into the present, Meadows has taken the usually conventional role of a put-upon high school principal in “The Goldbergs,” and made him into a quirky, goofy, yet honorable gentleman.
“They outlined that for me from day one and got me immediately,” says Meadows. “I’ve known some of the writers there since my days on the Chicago stage. Even though the character is based on (show creator) Adam Goldberg’s high school teacher, they wrote him with me in mind, which is cool.”
And no, no, no – Meadows does not always get all of the local references that Jenkintown-born Goldberg tosses into his namesake show, not the jokes about the Flyers or Philly food or anything. “Some, maybe,” he says with a laugh. “Adam likes to throw in a lot of stuff about where and how he grew up.”
As for stand-up, Meadows decided to stretch his comic muscles after “a long story” of going through a divorce, over-socializing after the papers were signed and hearing from friends in the biz that perhaps his time would be better spent perhaps heading back into his roots in improv. “My stand-up thing now actually started at UCB and Second City as a three man team, my own little improv show in Chicago, I was set to do this weekly, but the first night, my buddies were late in getting to the theater. I had to get on stage on time, so I started the show without them, and told stories about my life, about whatever was happening. And still improv. Just without the other two guys. “
And that is what Meadows will bring to the stage of Valley Forge’s casino this weekend: funny, genial stories about himself and the world around him – a place that seems fairly busy and wild. “I just want to know how we got here and where we’re all going. Me most of all.”