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The Sunday Conversation: ‘Glory Daze’s’ Tim Meadows

For most of the ‘90s, Tim Meadows, 49, was a familiar face on “Saturday Night Live.” He’s back on the small screen as the nutty professor in TBS’ new hourlong frat-house comedy.

Tell me about your character on “Glory Daze.”

He’s an angry, liberal professor during the Reagan administration in the mid-'80s. He’s going through a divorce and he’s trying to get back on his feet again. He becomes an advisor to this fraternity and they help him get back into the single life. He advises them on how to become young men.

How were the ‘80s for you?

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The ‘80s was more bad fashion than anything else. It was fine. It was confusing. I was a young man trying to make my way in Chicago, doing improv and becoming an actor. I enjoyed the ‘80s.

Were you sporting any bad fashion back then?

I had a dreadlock hairdo in the ‘80s. It was shaved on the side and dreadlocks on the top.

When you were in school were you in a fraternity?

No. When I was in college, I just went to class. I didn’t join any clubs. I was a DJ at a radio station at Wayne State University. It was the only organized thing I was involved in. I was going into radio and TV broadcasting. I loved doing it; it was fun.

You’ve had some fun playing school authority figures, like the high school principal in Tina Fey’s movie “Mean Girls.” Are you inspired by anyone in particular?

Whenever I do a movie like this where I’m the older guy working with younger people, the movie I always watch is “Meatballs” with Bill Murray, because there’s this vast age difference and yet he still could be fun in relating to the kids.

You had one of the longest runs on “SNL.” How did you manage that?

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There were transitions every few years. There was a transition when I first got there when Dana Carvey and those guys were getting ready to leave, and then I was in the cast with Sandler and Farley and Spade and Rock and those guys. That only lasted a couple of seasons, and then there was another transition with Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri and that crew. By that time I’d gotten my stride, and I was more comfortable on camera, so I just started having much more fun. Everybody had a sense of fun, and we also had a sense of, we were all working together to make the show work, so that’s how I lasted. And I just wrote all the time.

You were nominated for an Emmy for that, yes?

Yeah, that was my first season but I was part of a really great writing staff.

Do you have any scripts in your drawer now?

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I’m still writing mainly for my stand-up shows and myself. Sometimes I get hired to write jokes for other people, but that’s pretty much all the writing I’m doing right now.

Who are your closest friends from the show?

They’re all equally close. Whenever I’m with any of them, we always have very interesting conversations, so I couldn’t say one person is better than anybody else. I’d say Adam [Sandler] probably reaches out the most to me. We remain in contact. Me and Chris Rock text each other quite a bit, but I think they’re all equally my friends.

How do you think your childhood in Detroit shaped you as a performer?

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Probably the work ethic that was instilled in me in Detroit. I like working, I work a lot. I feel guilty when I’m not working. It comes from my parents and the way my family was. We were always taught about education and working and living up to your potential and working harder than other people in order to be successful.

If you could do your career differently, what would you change?

I don’t know that I would change anything. Everything I’ve worked on I was happy to work on. And stuff that wasn’t successful whether because it wasn’t marketed well or there just was no audience, that’s out of my control. I probably would have been a little bit more aggressive when I first got to “SNL.” I was intimidated by the show, and it took me a while to get my bearings.

How do you make your choices? What appealed to you about “Glory Daze”?

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The script, the character, just being able to work again. I don’t take work because I need to work. It’s always great when you take a job that you have some confidence in.

Can you tell us anything about where your character is going?

He gets divorced and you get to meet his wife. He goes through situations where he finds out his wife has moved on without him. The kids from the fraternity show him how to get confidence and meet women again.

So they’ll be your junior wingmen?

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Not wingmen so much as Dr. Phils.

Who do you think is funny?

Sandler makes me laugh. Rock makes me laugh. Spade is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met, just in conversations, he’s the funniest guy. I would love to drive across country with Spade.

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