Monday, June 16, 2008

Tim Meadows Interview

with Kam Williams

Headline: SNL Alum Back on TV on TBS Series

Tim Meadows was born in Highland Park, Michigan on February 5, 1961, the son of Mardell, a nurse’s assistant, and Lathon, a janitor. After graduating from Wayne State University, Tim began his assault on show business in Chicago as a member of The Second City comedy troupe alongside Jon Favrerau and the late Chris Farley.
In 1991, he was invited to join the ensemble cast of Saturday Night Live (SNL), a position he would enjoy for ten seasons, the longest tenure ever of anyone on the show, a record which was only eclipsed by Darrell Hammond in 2005. Tim proved to be quite a talented impersonator, doing dozens of celebs over the years, including Will Smith, Tiger Woods, Busta Rhymes, Dennis Rodman, Ru Paul, Snoop Dogg, Don King, Seal, Montel, Diddy, O.J., and Michael Jackson, to name a few.
He is perhaps best known for The Ladies Man, a sketch character he played on SNL. The skit proved popular enough to be spun off into its own movie in 2000. Since then, Tim has appeared in films like Mean Girls, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, The Benchwarmers, The Even Stevens Movie, and most recently, Semi-Pro.
He’s continued to work in television, too, on such series as The Michael Richards Show, The Colbert Report, One on One, Leap of Faith, The Office, Curb Your Enthusiasm and According to Jim. He is currently enjoying a recurring role as Paul on The Bill Engvall Show, a sitcom starting its second season on TBS this month.
As for his personal life, Tim is divorced, and shares custody of his two sons with his ex-wife, Michelle.

KW: Hey, Tim, thanks a lot for the interview.
TM: No problem, thank you.
KW: I watched the second season’s premiere of The Bill Engvall Show, but you were only in it briefly, on the phone for about ten seconds.
TM: I’m not in the first episode. I’m in the second one.
KW: I know your character, Paul, is Bill’s best friend. And he’s also a hair replacement specialist who is unlucky at love. Tell me a little bit more about him.
TM: Well, he’s recently divorced. And he’s trying to figure out how to meet girls, because he’s been out of the dating scene for awhile. Meeting girls online is something new for him, and he’s just trying to pick up his game again. And I can relate to that because I went through the same thing a few years ago
KW: I’m sorry to hear that.
TM: No, it was for the better, trust me. But I can relate to Paul, because I’ve been dating and all that stuff.
KW: How is it to start dating again after all those years?
TM: It’s as awkward and as horrible as I remember it. I feel like, “Why would anybody want to be single?” If you can meet somebody nice and good, then you should do it.
KW: Do you see yourself in real life as being more uncomfortable like Paul or more suave like The Ladies Man?
TM: I think I’m somewhere between the two. Occasionally, I do well, and I can be myself and relax. And I might get lucky, too. But then sometimes I can be nerdy, dumb, and say the wrong things. I’m not as good as I used to be at it.
KW: How do you like being a regular on a sitcom?
TM: I love it. It’s so much different from SNL and most other things I’ve done. The schedule is a little bit easier. You work more during the day. You have one long day of taping, but I look forward to going to work. I love working with Bill and the rest of the cast. They’re all great. Maybe in a few years we might get jaded and angry with each other, but right now it’s good.
KW: Did you get jaded after ten years on SNL?
TM: No, but I did get a little burnt out, because I was shooting Ladies Man and doing the show at the same time. So, it was a lot of work, and I kinda felt at the end of that run that it was just time to leave and give somebody else a chance. Tracy Morgan was there with me then. We had a couple of seasons together. It was only fair that he had a chance to be the only African-American on the show, and therefore have more parts written for him.
KW: Did you find that the African-American cast members were limited to playing black characters on SNL? Did you feel constrained?
TM: No, not at all. The show represents society. So, there are going to be rare occasions where a white actor is going to play a black character, and even rarer situations where a black character is going to be asked to play a white character. That’s why the cast is so diversified. You want to sort of represent America, basically. Sometimes, I had to be O.J. Simpson, but other times I just had to be a generic teacher who wasn’t necessarily black. I don’t play the race card in my comedy. That’s never been my thing. Even with The Ladies Man, it wasn’t a racial thing. He was just a guy who was sexually-active who the ladies loved.
KW: Reggie Hudlin, who directed you in The Ladies Man, is now the head of programming over at BET. Have you asked him to give you one of those zany reality shows now that he’s running that network?
TM: No, but he wanted to do Ladies Man as a late-night show on BET.
KW: What happened?
TM: I don’t know. We talked about it, and we were waiting for offers, but nothing ever came.
KW: You’ve done tons of impressions. Are you working on Barack Obama?
TM: Yeah, I’ve been working on Barack Obama a little bit. I’m waiting for him to win. I’m not going to waste my time if he’s going to lose.
KW: Are you supporting him?
TM: I’ll support him if he wins. I won’t support him if he loses. [Laughs] No, I don’t support anybody. It’s not my thing. And if I did, I wouldn’t say who it was publicly. I’ll give you a hint who I’m voting for in November. It rhymes with Seder.
KW: Oh, Ralph Nader. You don’t worry about possibly wasting your vote?
TM: No, I sort of disagree with people who blame him for taking votes away from Gore in 2000. Gore still won the popular vote. Nader wasn’t the reason why he lost the election. The Supreme Court cost him the election. Plus, you don’t know that all those people who voted for Nader would’ve gone for Gore. I’ve met Ralph Nader and I like him. And I’ve met John McCain, and he’s a great guy, too. I haven’t met Barack, but I have met Oprah Winfrey. I would love to see some change, and whatever the country decides, I’m behind it.
KW: The Tasha Smith question: Are you ever afraid?
TM: No, I’m never afraid. I have had some scary moments where things have been out of my control, like on a flight that was too bumpy, or when I almost got robbed. But for the most part, day-to-day, I don’t have much fear.
KW: Are you happy? That question I got from Columbus Short.
TM: Am I happy? No, I’m not happy.
KW: Gee, I’m sorry to hear that. You’re the very first person to give me that answer. Do you want to say why?
TM: No, let’s just leave it at that.
KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?
TM: I’m in the middle of The Lord of the Rings. The last book I completed was Eric Clapton’s autobiography.
KW: “Realtor to the Stars” Jimmy Bayan’s question: Where in L.A. do you live?
TM: I live in Venice Beach.
KW: Is there a question that nobody ever asks you that you wish somebody would?
TM: Yeah, does it make you angry that people you’ve worked with have been more successful than you?
KW: Okay, does it make you angry that people you’ve worked with have been more successful than you?
TM: No, it doesn’t make me angry, because they’re my friends, and I love my friends. There’s enough of the pie to go around for everybody. And I love to see my friends being successful, just like they wish the same thing for me. I don’t have any deep-seated resentment or anger. I want my friends who are more successful than me to know that I’m rooting for them.
KW: How do you want to be remembered?
TM: As a good father, as an excellent father. As an excellent lover, and as a friend of all animals. And I plan to have “I knew this would happen” engraved on my tombstone. [Laughs] I heard Dustin Hoffman say that in an interview on 60 minutes and thought that would make the perfect tombstone.
KW: How old are your sons?
TM: Five and seven.
KW: Great ages. Hey, thanks again for the time. Enjoy the boys and good luck with the show.
TM: Thanks man, it was nice talking to you.

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