Tim Meadows : From SNL to New Comedy, "No Activity"

November 22, 2017

Comedian Tim Meadows started entertaining America back in 1990 when he joined the cast of SNL. Now, the iconic comedian is out with a new show, "No Activity." Meadows plays a cop involved in a very boring stake-out where, you guessed it, there is no activity.

Tim Meadows joins Cheddar to discuss his new comedy on CBS All Access. It is the first scripted comedy for the OTT channel, and Meadows says in general that these type of platforms mean less money for the actors.

Meadows also responds to the allegations against his former SNL cast member, Senator Al Franken.


MALE_1: I'm so excited for this. Mr. Tim of Meadows first started making America laugh we you started on Saturday Night Live. Now, the very accomplished comedian is out with a new show called No Activity. And joining us now live on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange is Mr. Ladies Man himself, Tim Meadows.

MALE_2: Hey. Hi.

MALE_1: It's really good to have you here, Tim.

MALE_2: Thank you so much. [OVERLAPPING] It's good to be here.

MALE_1: Thank you for taking the time. I'm sure I know you're incredibly busy these days.

MALE_2: I am terribly busy. Yes [LAUGHTER] [OVERLAPPING] but I have the time to come here. It's my first time ever being in the New York Stock Exchange.

MALE_1: Oh, is that right? Well, welcome. It's great to have you.

MALE_2: Thank you.

MALE_1: I want to start for a little news of the day. Of course, a former colleague of yours uh, from Saturday Night Live, Senator Al Franken of Minnesota has been in the news as of late.

MALE_2: Right.

MALE_1: Tim, I want to get your reaction to these allegations that came forward against the center a and your reaction to this letter that a lot of former staffers wrote in defense of Senator Franken.

MALE_2: Oh, well, I don't know what to say about that. I mean I feel like, you know, it'll play itself out. I've known Al and I've donated to his campaign. I know him back in the day and he's always very, you know, respectful and I'm surprised that anything, you know, of anything that's happened, so I don't know. I still, I think that he has a, you know, he's in a good position to mo- m- move forward from this and I just hope everything works out well. But he's a great he's a great person. And, you know, I don't know what to say about the letter. I didn't read that stuff. So, but I'm I'm glad that the women that worked with him came to his defense because, just from what I know personally, he deserves it. He's really a great guy.

FEMALE_1: You have a great fortune of having some other of your peers on the show last week [inaudible 00:01:33] you know, in the media industry, Melissa Joan Hart. Though they've all said that in order to kind of get through this as women, you had to be more vocal, you have to band together. I'm so curious to get your opinion and your take on this as a male actor, seeing all this unfold, and seeing some of your female colleagues go through this. How are you reacting to her personally and what are the other colleagues in your group, you know, male actors too, and directors, and producers reacting to all this controversy?

MALE_2: Well, I think, I think, I think people are surprised by the the, you know, of the um, I don't know how to put it, by the details of what's what happens in in different individual cases, you know, um. And it's always a surprise as a performer or as an actor to hear about somebody being, you know, uh, being involved in something that's, you know, you know, that's in the news. So, it's a little bit off putting. Me personally, I mean, I haven't really experienced anything like that. Uh, you know, I haven't been subjected to it. I don't I haven't subjected anybody to anything. I've never been in a position of power. So, [LAUGHTER] nobody cares about what I say or do or don't do.

MALE_1: Uh, let's shift gears a bit and talk about it [OVERLAPPING].

MALE_2: No. No. Let's keep talking about this.

FEMALE_1: No. [OVERLAPPING] We can talk about your show.

MALE_1: I want to I want to ask about No Activity specifically and what it's like to work again with Will Ferrell. How did this,uh, how did this come about and what's it like to again be with him?

MALE_2: Uh, it's been good. Um, I actually don't have any scenes with Will. [LAUGHTER]So [LAUGHTER] yeah, it's this show is different because it's um, it's it really is two people, my character and another cop, sitting in a car and talking while we're on the stakeout, and we're on the stakeout watching Will Ferrell and another uh, Jesse Plemons, and they're the crooks that we're watching. But we never talk to each other. We uh, the the show is really about the relationship between these two people in the scenes together.

MALE_1: Right. And the idea is there's no activity.

MALE_2: There's no activity [OVERLAPPING] so you uh, allow, some of the reviewers have described it as uh, Waiting for Godot uh, on on a cop show.

FEMALE_1: How is it working with Bob Odenkirk? I mean, I love him and adore him as an actor and writer.

MALE_2: Again, I didn't do any scenes with Bob [LAUGHTER] .

FEMALE_1: Right. Okay.

MALE_2: Even though, but we we do talk to him on the radio. Um, and I know Bob for a long time. We've started the Second City a long time ago, and uh, he's a he's incredibly funny and, um, really has his own sort of rhythm that I kind of love.

FEMALE_1: Mm-hmm, good.

MALE_1: I imagine the production is similar but this is the first show for CBS All Access, so [OVERLAPPING] it's an OTT platform, a little different perhaps than regular network TV. Are are there key differences or, from your perspective, same view to show up and and do the craft and do what you do?

MALE_2: Yeah, that's basically good answer that I would say, is I just show up and I do what I was supposed to do. I mean, you know, it's different in that it's as far as like the language that we can use, it's a little bit, we have a little bit more freedom [OVERLAPPING]. Um, and so, you know, it's a little bit different. It's a little bit different. But the way we go about it is the way we would go about any job. You learn your lines, you figure out what's funny, you sorta, um, and then you show up ready to perform. And the thing about this show is that every scene that I'm in, I'm sitting in a car.

FEMALE_1: Mm-hmm.

MALE_2: So, nothing really changed for me, you know, except a shirt and tie, you know.

FEMALE_1: Is there any difference producing this show for the OTT platform for CBS versus the original, you know, network?

MALE_2: They pay less [LAUGHTER].

FEMALE_1: Is that right? How much less? Wait, wait, wait. How much less?

MALE_2: A lot less [LAUGHTER] .

FEMALE_1: Whoa! Okay. You're being very candid with this because everybody who's who's been on our show we've asked, they're like oh, it's wonderful. We have free range to do everything, you know. I mean John Mogul did say that it's very bootstrap at least for IFC anyway.

MALE_2: Yeah. And, you know, I me- I'd go and I go in the projects like this knowing that this is a new thing. So they're trying to figure out, you know, what they're doing and everything else. But, I was glad I signed on to do it. It was it was a lot of hard work because we do we'd learn like 20 pages of dialogue a day, which is that's basically an episode of some sitcoms.

FEMALE_1: Yeah.

MALE_2: So it was a lot of work but I I loved doing it. Pat Bramall, who is the co-creator with Trent O'Donnell, those guys were they were really fun to work with and they give us a lot of room to improvise. Um, so it was, yeah, it was a blast. It could pay better, yeah, but it was a blast [LAUGHTER] .


MALE_1: I love that. Yeah. It's like, hey, I could pay better [OVERLAPPING] .

FEMALE_1: So good. All right. Something I like to do here, I ask very important people very important questions.

MALE_2: Okay.

FEMALE_1: Which are really tough. Um, your career defining moment, what was the moment that you decided or figured out or realized like wow, like I'm like doing this. I'm like making it.

MALE_2: Um, probably when I was hired by Second City in a touring company. Um, it was one of the moments where I w- I I didn't, I used to work at a record store and at an electronics store before that while I was like learning how to do improv and I dropped out of college. And then once I got hired in Second City, I didn't have to work anymore. And so, it was a realization that I was actually a professional actor. I was led, being paid to act.

FEMALE_1: Amazing.

MALE_2: Yeah.

FEMALE_1: Who is the funniest person that you know? What makes you laugh? Like what's like the one thing that you like oh, boy, like I always get kicked out of this.

MALE_2: Well, any t- any time I see Martin Short, I I I la-. I think he's one of the funniest people in the world. He makes, I've always loved his like the type of stuff that he does because it's different for me. Like he can do characters, and he's he can be big, and he can be be musical, and he's very he has a very funny take on entertainment and show business. Um, and when I met him, I met him a few times but at the 40th anniversary of of SNL, I had a couple of glasses of wine. But I went up to him after during we we were saying good night. And I just so grabbed him and I said, I have to tell you this, I love you. I've always loved you. I've been a big fan of yours. I've seen everything you've ever done. And I just didn't want this night to go by without you knowing how important you are to me.

FEMALE_1: Amazing.

MALE_2: And he just hugged me and was just like like, thank you so much.

FEMALE_1: What is the key to being funny?

MALE_2: Um, I don't know if there's a key. I wish I had, you know, I think it's being honest. I think being honest, just like when I said, they didn't pay enough and you guys all laughed [LAUGHTER] .

FEMALE_1: Right.

MALE_2: Because it's not the answer you were expecting.

MALE_1: Right.

MALE_2: And that's part of it too is the unexpected response to something, you know. Um, I'll be watching sitcoms with my kids and I will say the punchline to jokes on shows that we're watching. My son will go, how did you know that? And I said because it's not anything new. It's the the joke was written like during I Love Lucy.

MALE_1: Right. Right.

MALE_2: You know.

MALE_1: Right.

MALE_2: And so it does make me laugh. But when I hear a joke that's funny, it's because there is the the punchline is a different, I didn't expect it to be that, and that's the thing that makes me laugh.

MALE_1: Yeah. Hey, Del and Charna wrote that book Truth and Comedy.

MALE_2: That's right.

MALE_1: Based on for improvised. Uh, last question. I know it's your your first time here for the New York Stock Exchange. A lot of our viewers are into investing, into entrepreneurs a a and this is this hybrid with celebrity. A a any personal money philosophies that have helped guide you over your life? Because we have viewers who are like, does Tim Meadows invest? What does he do with his money? [OVERLAPPING] Is he an entrepreneur in any way? Any good tip or anything that stand down from,from your life?

MALE_2: Well, um, one thing I've always lived by uh, is one, keep my nose to the grindstone. I just work and I just I don't really think about, um, what I even know I was joking about being paid. I I don't really care. I'm not really concerned about how much money it is. Um, and as far as investing in the stuff, I I'd put money into an IRA account. I have some mutual funds, you know. I own some property. I've just bought a place in Detroit and and in Chicago. And the only thing that I've done that's been good is I've been able to see things and get in on the ground floor. Like in Detroit, I bought a condo. And uh, but in the area that I bought, it's it's going to be it's going up. There's been a lot of good investments there. Um, so that's basically what I do. I don't have anything any special thing.

FEMALE_1: Okay. Oh, I I I almost forgot, your favorite SNL character you've ever played.

MALE_2: Ever played?

FEMALE_1: Yeah.

MALE_2: Uh, Leon Phelps, The Ladies Man.

FEMALE_1: [OVERLAPPING] There you go. Of course.

MALE_1: There you go, Tim Meadows. No Activity is available now on CBS All Access. It is great to have you here.

MALE_2: Thank you for having me.

FEMALE_1: It's a pleasure. [OVERLAPPING].

MALE_2: Really fun. Thank you.