“Oooohhh … it’s a lady!” Or, hang onto your Courvoisier, the love doctor will see us now.
Four times, in fact: at 8 and 10:15 p.m. Friday and Saturday in downtown Bloomington’s busiest wellness center, Laugh Comedy Club.
Being The Ladies Man — Afro-crowned sex therapist Leon Phelps — it helps if you’re more ladies than man.
And if somewhere along the way you can brandish a bottle of Courvoisier — Leon’s oft-referenced liquid aphrodisiac of choice — so much the better.
But whatever the gender, the man behind Leon, Dr. Tim Meadows, would like to not only see you, but also find out more about you.
“Most people who come to see me don’t really know me,” figures Meadows, who once held the record as “Saturday Night Live’s” longest-running cast member — a 10-season stand, begun in 1991 and lasting through 2000 (the record was broken in 2005 by Darrell Hammond, who was on board 14 years, from 1995 through 2009).
“I have no personal life for people to know about because I’m not a big enough celebrity to be seen in the press all the time. Only comedy fans are aware of who I am,” goes the diagnosis.
Within that universe, Meadows has found his mileage may vary, per the demographic at hand.
“Older people know me from ‘Saturday Night Live,’ mainly as the Ladies Man,” he says, reminding us that tempus does indeed fugit — 13 seasons of “SNL” have come and gone since his exodus (his association has continued unabated, however; see accompanying story for the proof).
“Some younger people know me from ‘Mean Girls’,” he observes, referencing the 2004 box office smash concocted by his “SNL” colleague Tina Fey and featuring him as school principal Ron Duvall, a role reprised two years ago in its sequel, “Mean Girls 2.”
“The very young kids know me from ‘The Even Stevens Movie’ (a popular Disney Channel movie) or ‘Aliens in the Attic’ (a
family box office hit from three summers ago).”
A lot of his mainstream viewer identification, however, comes from his extensive post-“SNL” series work, the biggest among them being TBS’ “The Bill Engvall Show,” where he played an Engvall crony named Paul Defrayne, owner of a successful hair transplant practice.
All of which brings us back to Meadows’ claim that “most people who come to see me don’t really know me.”
Will we know him any better after this weekend’s Laugh stand here?
“I think it comes through the comedy, in a way,” says the 52-year-old Michigan native with deep Chicago roots.
No personal woes (including a failed marriage) or peccadilloes are off limits, he says.
Just understand that he wants it to be a two-way street — not in the libidinous manner of the Ladies Man, most of whose ribald advice and randy world-view can’t be quoted here.
Hence, the point in the show when he segues from stand-up to curious seeker of information.
“I really do want to get to know my audience, so I like to talk to them … interview them. It’s my favorite part of the show.”
Get ready to ’fess up, then.
Meadows wasn’t always comfortable going it alone … his chief comedy background is in group improvisation, honed in Chicago’s Soup Kitchen Saloon and then, as a matter of course, Second City, where his peers included future “SNL” cast members like Chris Farley.
That apprenticeship served him well within the ensemble contours of the highly scripted “SNL,” which he joined in 1991, and where he became noted for impersonations of assorted African-American celebrities of the moment, from O.J. Simpson to Michael Jackson to Oprah Winfrey to Tiger Woods.
Because he was “not ready for prime time” longer than most “SNL” denizens, does he recommend such a long hitch to those just starting out?
“I would recommend working as long as you can,” he says. “For me, I guess it was unusual in that the cast went through three major transitions during the time I was there.”
He breaks it down thusly:
-- When he joined in 1991, it was the Dana Carvey/Kevin Nealon/etc. era.
-- Midway through his decade run, it transitioned to the Adam Sandler/Chris Farley/etc. phase.
-- By the time he left it in 2000, it was the Will Ferrell/Chris Kattan/etc. era.
“If I’d come in with the same group of people, I might have left with the same people,” he muses. “Instead, I just focused on being there until I’d done everything I wanted to do. Also, my wife at the time wanted me to move on so we could start a family.”
He did, and they did, producing two sons before, sadly, the union ended in divorce. Today, Meadows maintains residences in both Los Angeles and Chicago, the latter where his kids reside and, of course, the city closest to his heart.
Above all, “I really did feel it was time to go … you have to let the people have the chance to work there.”
Getting that chance was Tracy Morgan, “who just took off after I left.”
Ironically, Meadows’ “SNL” run was winding down by the time he finally was awarded with his own recurring character.
“My name is Leon Phelps, and to those of you that are uninitiated, I am an expert in the ways of love. I have made love to many fine ladies from the lowliest bus station skank to the classiest most sophisticated, educated, debutant, high society... bus station skank.”
That credo hit an audience nerve, to the point Leon graduated to that ultimate “SNL” accolade, his own starring movie, released the year he left the show, in 2000.
Neither a box office nor critical success out of the chute, the film has evolved, over endless cable airings and home video, into an enduring cult favorite.
Happily for the Ladies Man’s willing patients, the saga continues within the contours of Meadows’ stand-up act.
Leon is now 15 years older … but is he any wiser?
“I don’t think he’s changed much, beyond having adapted to the online dating world,” observes his creator. “Let’s face it, Leon would find a way to adjust to ANY kind of dating situation.”
Or, as Leon himself once put it in universal terms:
“When a man works hard his entire life enduring hundreds of ladies, many of whom he does not even remember, you’d like to think that at the end of the day he will be given a lot of money, without having had to earn it.”
At a glance
What: Tim Meadows
When: 8 and 10:15 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Where: Laugh Comedy Club, 108 E. Market St., Bloomington
Tickets: $18 and $22
Information: 309-287-7698 or www.laughbloomington.com
‘Live’ & kicking
In the 13 years since Tim Meadows departed “Saturday Night Live” after 10 seasons, he’s managed to maintain a regular working relationship with his former “SNL” mates. Among those collaborations:
The Ladies Man (2000): Film version of his trademark character, co-starring Will Ferrell and Kevin McDonald.
Mean Girls (2004): Produced by Lorne Michaels, written by and co-starring Tina Fey, with Amy Poehler also in the cast.
The Benchwarmers (2006): Produced by Adam Sandler; co-starring David Spade, Rob Schneider and Jon Lovitz.
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007): Co-starring Kristen Wiig.
Semi-Pro (2008): Co-starring Will Ferrell.
Aliens in the Attic (2009): Co-starring Kevin Nealon.
Grown Ups (2010): Produced and co-written by and starring Adam Sandler, with Chris Rock, David Spade, Rob Schneider and Normal Macdonald.
Jack and Jill (2011): Co-written by and starring Adam Sandler, with David Spade, Dana Carvey, Norm MacDonald and Tim Herlihy.
Mr. Box Office (2012-3): Syndicated TV series co-starring Jon Lovitz.
30 Rock (2013): Guest role as Martin Lutherking in series created by and starring Tina Fey, co-starring Tracy Morgan.
Grown Ups 2 (to be released 2013): Co-starring Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, David Spade and Jon Lovitz.