by Emma Loggins
We had the honor of sitting down with Tim Meadows to discuss his role on The Bill Engvall Show and his bits on The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson. Here’s what he had to say:
How did you become involved with this show?
Tim: I auditioned for a role last season, for the pilot, for the role of the podiatrist, and I didn’t get it. They hired Steve Hytner. After they shot the pilot, they decided they wanted Bill to have two friends. They asked me if I was interested in another role. I had lunch with Bill and Michael Leeson. Bill and I hit it off pretty well, and they told me about the part. I told them yeah, I’d be happy to do it. The thing that was enticing was they had a guarantee of at least six episodes that had to be filmed. That meant I was going to be in at least four or five episodes. You don’t get that sort of opportunity in Hollywood because usually you just shoot a pilot. That made it an easy decision.
Do you have any input when it comes to writing?
Tim: Not writing a storyline. But when we rehearse the show during the week, I’ll improvise when I think of jokes or additional lines to say. I’ll tell the writers or Bill our director, “Hey can I do this?” Usually, if they like it, they’ll say yes. And sometimes, when we’re taping in front of the audience I’ll just say it anyways because.. I don’t give a crap. I just say it anyways. Sometimes they like it, sometimes they don’t.
Turner sent me a screener for the first two episodes of the season, and I see that Paul is having a little bit of a problem with the ladies. Where can we expect that storyline to go from episode two on out?
Tim: I think probably it will continue this season to be unsuccessful. Right now, from what we shot, I don’t have any dates. It’s all failure, basically. We’re also not obsessing about that part of my life. Other things happen. Sometimes I’m incorporated into their storylines. I’d like to keep the single guy storyline going for a while. I’d like to be able to work with a bunch of actresses that are possible dates. I think there are a lot of funny female actresses out there that’d be really fun to playoff of. Friends, people I know.
How many episodes have you done on this season?
Tim: We’ve done seven. There are going to be ten. There might be fifteen if it does well.
Has the writer’s strike affected you at all?
Tim: No, we were really lucky. It started when we had already wrapped from last season, and it ended right before we were supposed to go into production. So we maybe got pushed back a couple weeks, but it wasn’t bad at all.
Has this role presented you with any challenges that you haven’t dealt with in your past projects?
Tim: Any problems? No… The only challenge is doing the same person over and over. I’ve never been the same character for two years, so that’s a little bit different. I’m sort of used to doing different characters or impressions. It’s kind of fun in a way because I get to build this history of this guy and get to know him pretty well. But it’s just a sitcom. It’s not like King Arthur.
You’ve done a lot of television. You’ve done a lot of film as well. Is there one you enjoy most?
Tim: Whichever project is going into my bank account at the moment is the one I enjoy the most [laughs]. So right now, this show is the best thing I’ve ever done.
I love your segments on the Late Late Show. They’re great. How much of that is scripted or just between you and Craig?
Tim: Eighty percent scripted, and then the other twenty percent is me and Craig filling in between laughs and from the audience. So we’ll say things or if we make mistakes, we’ll acknowledge it and play around with it. That’s written by one of the writers of the show. I usually go in the day of, and we go over it, and if I have any additional jokes I’ll say it to them. The last one we did is my favorite. We did one about Grand Theft Auto. It’s on YouTube. It’s really funny. He and I really went off book. It was the most we’d ever played around. He messed up the intro to it, and you could see him looking over me because I started laughing because he totally blew the intro. He looked over me like, “What are you laughing at?” Then when I came on, he goes on, which he wasn’t supposed to say, “Can you hear me over there?” and I go “Yeah, yeah I can hear you clearly.” And I’m literally three feet away from him. That was the beginning of us laughing and going off script. It was fun.
How did you get involved in that?
Tim: It was weird. There had been a little discussion of me going in as one of the hosts to test for that job. Then nothing happened; I didn’t hear any more about it. Then, after he was hired, a friend of mine was hired as a writer. Then he asked me if I wanted to do a bit on the show. It was supposed to be a one time thing. Craig really liked it, and I just kept going back.
You were a member of a comedy troupe in the past. Do you still do standup?
Tim: A little bit. Not a lot. I’m just really getting started. I’ve been working on doing it the past year maybe. I have about twenty minutes of material, but I want to get better at it. You have to really do it a lot to get good at it. Because I work on many different things, I don’t have as much time as someone who just does stand up comedy. I really want to get good at it. The thing about stand up is you have to really know your material in order to expand on it on while you’re stage. I want to get to know what I have.
Do you have any future projects you can talk about?
Tim: I have a moving coming out in February – I’m IN a movie coming out in February called They Came From Upstairs. Ashley Tisdale is one of the stars. She’s the name that I mention depending on the audience. If you’re a teenager, you know who she is. She’s in it, Andy Richter, and Kevin Nealon. It’s an alien invasion movie. I’ve never done a movie like that with a lot of green screen that you pretend to see.
I imagine that’s really hard to do.
Tim: Yeah, most of the time you’re looking at a tennis ball on a stick, and they’re going, “It’s exploding! Look at it. It’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen!” And it’s just like a dirty tennis ball on a stick. It literally is a dirty tennis ball on a stick and you’re going, “Wow. WOW! Look at it!” After it’s done, you just feel like an idiot. “Wow, I’m getting excited over some crew guy holding a tennis ball on a stick out like that.” It’s really an absurd picture.
The Bill Engvall Show