Tim Meadows (Atlanta Improv July 23-25) not a fan of 'Whose Line Is It Anyway'

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 15: Tim Meadows attends SNL 40th Anniversary Celebration at Rockefeller Plaza on February 15, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 15: Tim Meadows attends SNL 40th Anniversary Celebration at Rockefeller Plaza on February 15, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

By RODNEY HO/ rho@ajc.com, originally filed Friday July 17, 2015

Tim Meadows, best known for his decade-long run on "Saturday Night Live," is a genial guy, a survivor who isn't apt to make waves in the rough Hollywood waters. But as a veteran improv comic with Second City roots, he has a beef with the popular CW show "Whose Line Is it Anyway."

"I like the people on the show," he said in a recent interview in advance of his stop at the Atlanta Improv Thursday, July 23 through Saturday, July 25. "I hate that show. I hate that show exists. It's the worst example of improv. It's not even improv! It's like pretend make up."

Over a half-hour conversation, that's as rough as he gets.

While Meadows has carved out a steady career in sketch comedy and acting in film and TV ("Mean Girls," "Grown Ups," "Marry Me"), he has also been working in recent years on his stand-up act. It's not what people identify him with.

"I talk a lot about myself because I don't think the audience knows much about me personally," Meadows said. "I'll talk about being a father, my divorce, dating after divorce. I talk about growing up in Detroit."

He said he has a general outline of what he's going to do but, as an improv person at heart, he lets his set breath. "I always change it a little bit, keep myself entertained," he said.

Meadows will also do a bit of his "Ladies Man" act, his most famous sketch character from the show, where he plays a sex therapist and radio host who provides questionable romantic advice. He even leveraged that act into a film in 2000.

"It's still fun for me to do the Ladies Man,' he said. "He makes me laugh. He's an odd extension of me. I feel like the character can basically get away with saying things I can never say myself, things that would otherwise get me in trouble with an audience."

Meadows has been on two shows with Atlanta-based TBS. The more notable one was "The Bill Engvall Show," where he played Engvall's best buddy from 2007 to 2009. Jennifer Lawrence, now an A-list actress, played Engvall's daughter.

"I met her when she was 16," Meadows said. "She was always very down to earth. We got along really well. We had running jokes while we were on set. She was always a really solid performer." He said she deserves her success: "She's a really good person at heart."


Credit: Rodney Ho

Credit: Rodney Ho

Meadows is grateful for his decade on "SNL" in the 1990s, working alongside the likes of Chris Farley, Adam Sandler and Will Ferrell.

"I kept my nose to the grindstone," he said. "I worked hard. I didn't really get involved in politics or any relationship that would complicate my place on the show. I'd come in, write two sketches a week, contribute where I could. I worked hard to be a team player. When I got burned out, I said I was leaving."

He had a thrill attending the 40th anniversary special and after party in February. "I think [creator Lorne Michaels] threw the greatest party in show business history," Meadows said.

The most surreal moment for Meadows was having Derek Jeter tell him what a big fan he was. "Someone then tapped me on the back. It was Rihanna, who said, 'I wanted to say hello!' So then I said to her, 'Have you met Derek Jeter?' How often do you get to say that?"

Meadows gets regular work. He has a small role in the new Amy Schumer film "Trainwreck."

"I play a friend of her sister. I'm in a dinner party scene. I haven't seen it so I don't know what they used. I worked on the movie for a week. With [director] Judd Apatow, you improvise a lot."

UPDATE on Saturday, July 18: I watched "Trainwreck" last night and the party scene is quite funny. Meadows plays one of four friends who grill Bill Hader's character Dr. Aaron Connors about his clients as a medical doctor. He throws out some really big names such as Tim Brady that impress the crew, but when Aaron mentions Alex Rodriguez, Meadows' character suddenly curses him out. This gets a good laugh.

He's also in a a three-night film noir miniseries called "The Spoils Before Dying" featuring Ferrell, Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph, all "SNL" vets as well.

"I like to working with my friends," Meadows said. "I did that because of [writers] Matt Piedmont and Andrew Steele. Andrew helped create the Ladies Man character."

He said he has no method in terms of what he ends up doing. "I don't have that many rules," he said. "I sort of go from thing to thing. Sometimes, I do what I want to do. But I've also done crappy material because I have free time."

He's pragmatic at times for a paycheck: "People give me a lot of s*** for doing 'Mean Girls 2.' The only reason why I did it is I had a month off. I had nothing to do and they were going to pay me money. It was going to be a lot of work so yah. I don't care!"


Credit: Rodney Ho

Credit: Rodney Ho

And he is bummed to have seen "Marry Me" go away on NBC, which despite some critical acclaim, lasted only one season. He played the surrogate gay father of the lead character Casey Wilson. "I thought it was a funny, well written show," he said.  "It was better than a lot of shows still on the air."


Tim Meadows

7:45 p.m. Thursday, $20

7:45 p.m., 10:15 p.m. Friday and Saturday, $25

Atlanta Improv

56 E Andrews Dr NW, Atlanta