Known for having one of the longest tenures on the iconic Saturday Night Live, funny man Tim Meadows finds himself back on series television. This time, as a regular on TBS’ new one-hour sitcom, Glory Daze.
Glory Daze is a period piece set on a college campus in the 1980s. The show, with Tim Meadows playing an educator, follows the fun – and awkward — misadventures of four freshmen as they navigate college life, trying to figure out who they are and who they want to be.
I had the chance to speak with Meadows about his background and new show.
How much has your background shaped your professional choices? Did you want to do anything else professionally?
My background has shaped all my professional choices. I grew up sort of poor. I know what it’s like to make sacrifices, hard choices. I understand the idea behind delayed gratification. I grew up in a family with a lot of kids, and I wanted to stand out more. That experience shaped my personality. I was funny, instead of athletic or smart. It’s affected the roles I’ve taken because I’m from Detroit and we have a strong work ethic and so I try to work all the time. I don’t sweat a lot over a job — if I’m going to do something or not. I always think if it’s going to be fun or not, or will the check clear.
I wanted to be a doctor for a long time. It’s still because of comedy that I wanted to be a doctor. I wanted to be like Alan Alda. So for a long time my mother encouraged me to be a doctor and then, after I failed science four times, I realized it wasn’t going to happen. I decided to go into advertising or journalism, and I thought maybe, for a while I’d be a musician — I played sax, wood wind instruments all my life. Dad gave me an album by Charlie Parker and I realized I wasn’t half as good.
You play a professor on Glory Daze. Can you tell me a little bit about your character?
My Glory Daze character is a guy who’s dealing with a lot of stuff. He’s going through a divorce, and he’s angry. He’s sort of done with the whole job thing and not really feeling it anymore. By episode two, he’s not living at home anymore, and needs advice from the kids in the school on how to cope.
How is Glory Daze different than other comedies on the air currently?
The main thing is the time — it’s an hour long comedy. It feels cinematic, like a short college film every week, but there’s a different dramatic/comedic aspect to the story. As a one-hour sitcom, the show has much more heart than you would think…
We’re shooting episode nine right now, and what’s great is learning what my character will be doing. What’s great about this episode is that for both me and the audience, I get to meet my ex-wife. It’s also the last time I see her. It should be very interesting.
What are some of your most memorable moments on the show so far — what have you enjoyed most?
I enjoy working with my cast. They’re great people, nice guys. It’s the first big job for some of them, and it’s nice to see them enjoying the work. We’re part of a good production. Working in general is fun. My job is not like the guys who run the coal mine in Chile, it’s not that hard. So, anytime I go to work, I’m happy.
Would you like to share any inappropriate work stories?
Not inappropriate…(laughs). But I think it’s a little – I don’t know, there have been a couple episodes where people have to be shirtless or in their underwear. That can be uncomfortable when you’re the oldest guy, I guess. That can be embarrassing. No wrestling matches, thank you. Everyone would agree that Hartley is the most athletic of all of us.
Why should people tune in to Glory Daze?
First and foremost, it’s funny. We capture a near-bygone era. And if you’ve gone to or are about to go to college, this show gives you or reminds you of all those emotional relationships, transitions. It shows you the awkwardness of trying to fit in, growing up and trying to be an adult. We also have a lot of great cameos coming up with some great actors.
Can you tell me a little about the genesis of the show — how it began, because it fits very well with the Conan demo.
We shot the show before Conan came to TBS. He was still doing The Tonight Show. Glory Daze was greenlit around the same time, but I can’t answer about the intention. My business savvy, would say yes, that probably had something to do with it. Our audience, the Conan audience — the targeted age/demographic is very similar.
Will Conan O’Brien appear on Glory Daze?
Not that I know of. But Andy Richter does guest star and plays a priest. It’s a funny show.
Are you going to appear on Conan?
They asked me to do one of the test shows, but because I was working, I couldn’t do it. I am on the books for December though.
You’re one of the more experienced members of your cast. Do you feel like a mentor to your colleagues?
You know, just recently we did a press thing and they began to discuss that — they do watch me working on the show and are learning a few things. But you know, I felt really embarrassed by it — flattered, but still a little humbled. It made me realize they were kids when I was on SNL, and are just now becoming adults. I don’t advise them, on anything, unless they ask. But I think — yeah, but you’d have to ask them about that.
Looking at your career, do you feel you’ve made the right choices?
If I could take what I know now back then, I’d change a lot. Some choices I wouldn’t make. The bad choices — I did learn from them, were probably for the better.
If you could, what decisions or circumstances would you change?
I know Jon Favreau, and there was an opportunity to do Swingers. Unfortunately, because of my SNL schedule at the time, we couldn’t make it work. But I didn’t pass on it. And I regret it after seeing the movie, even though the part was small.
You received an Emmy nomination for writing while doing SNL, are you interested in creating and writing your own TV vehicle like Tina Fey?
She’s not successful at all. (laughs) From my side of the story, in the beginning of the year during pilot season, I’ll want to go out and pitch ideas for shows. And either I’ll get a job or will be offered one. And it takes the steam out of me pitching and doing what I want to do. This has happened for the past five-six years. But I’d love to create a show, or direct a movie. I enjoy writing and I enjoy doing it for my stand up.
And we enjoy watching him. Chalk one up for experience and a growing body of work.
Glory Daze debuts Tuesday, November 16, 2010 on TBS at 10/9 (ET).