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!” ••
For times and ticket information, call 215-496-9001.