Tim Meadows takes the stage at Helium Comedy Club

Tim Mead­ows

One of the longest-run­ning cast mem­bers of Sat­urday Night Live, comedi­an Tim Mead­ows craf­ted some of the series’ most mem­or­able char­ac­ters dur­ing his 10-year stint on the late night show.

“There was Ike Turn­er and Sammy Dav­is Jr. and my per­son­al fa­vor­ite, Le­on Phelps, The Ladies’ Man,” said Mead­ows, about to take the stage at the He­li­um Com­edy Club, 2031 Sansom St., from June 26-28.

“That par­tic­u­lar char­ac­ter is my fa­vor­ite be­cause he of­fers me a real sense of free­dom, which as a per­former I wouldn’t al­ways have. I sort of get lost in that char­ac­ter,” Mead­ows said.

Raised in De­troit, Mead­ows, 53, said he was a shy little kid grow­ing up.

“I was the young­est of six and every­body al­ways looked after me. I was sort of sheltered,“ Mead­ows re­called. “But I star­ted de­vel­op­ing a sense of my­self from watch­ing a lot of tele­vi­sion, and was es­pe­cially fond of watch­ing Bill Cosby and George Carlin.”

Shy, but with a keen in­terest in com­edy, Mead­ows at­ten­ded Wayne State Uni­versity to ma­jor in tele­vi­sion and ra­dio broad­cast­ing. Dur­ing that time, he heard of someone teach­ing im­pro­visa­tion, and de­cided to take the class.

“Im­prov ap­pealed to me be­cause I knew I’d be work­ing with oth­ers and wouldn’t be stand­ing alone on stage,” Mead­ows ex­plained.

Soon, he was per­form­ing im­prov com­edy at the Soup Kit­chen Sa­loon. In 1985, he re­lo­cated to Chica­go, where he first joined Im­prov-Olympic, and then the le­gendary com­edy troupe Second City. Dur­ing his three years with Second City, he wrote and starred in sev­er­al pro­duc­tions, in­clud­ing The Gods Must Be Lazy with the late Chris Far­ley.

In 1991, Mead­ows achieved the dreams of com­ics na­tion­wide when pro­du­cer Lorne Mi­chaels asked him to join SNL as a fea­tured play­er. Nom­in­ated for an Emmy as part of the show’s writ­ing team that same month, he later made the trans­ition to cast mem­ber status two years later.

Mead­ows went on to ap­pear in a string of films based on SNL sketches, and the 2000 re­lease of Para­mount’s The Ladies’ Man gave hero Le­on Phelps the op­por­tun­ity to bring his Cour­vois­i­er-drink­ing ro­mantic ad­viser to the big screen.

Today, the com­ic/act­or con­tin­ues to ap­pear in fea­ture films and TV sit­coms, as well as per­form his stand-up whenev­er he gets the chance. He says the ma­jor­ity of his ma­ter­i­al comes from just liv­ing life.

“I talk about per­son­al things like be­ing di­vorced and hav­ing kids and be­ing single,” he ex­plained. “I think one of the reas­ons we have so many dif­fer­ent com­ics do­ing such dif­fer­ent ma­ter­i­al is be­cause we’ve all had such dif­fer­ent ex­per­i­ences.”

And the best thing about what he does?

“I think it’s that I work for my­self, so I take the jobs I want to take and work when I want to work. And at the end of a show, when the audi­ence is clap­ping, I know they’re clap­ping just for me!” ••

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