By Cathy DeDe, Chronicle Managing Editor
In a show whose topics ranged from parenting teenaged sons to growing up in Detroit, modern politics, sex after divorce and his abiding appreciation for “weed,” Saturday Night Live alum and comedy actor Tim Meadows was generous, sharp, and at the best of times a wildly spontaneous stand-up comedian Saturday night at the Wood Theater.
Clearly he’d been warned that it’s GlenS Falls, with a definite S. “You all are a little sensitive about that I hear,” he opened, then admonishing — but where are the falls? It’s not exactly Niagara Falls here.
Know that I’m paraphrasing from memory: There are few things I won’t do, but sit in the front row of a standup show where note-taking potentially makes me a target? No way.
Funniest riff in my book was when he opened the bottle of JUST water provided on his little stool, took a swig and observed, innocently: “Mmm. I never drank water from a square bottle before.”
“It’s from here,” someone called out.
“What? You make this in Glens Falls?”
Long and escalating conversation with the audience ensued. He suggested it was a clever gig, simply opening a tap, filling bottles and selling it as something special (again, paraphrasing).
Someone called out: “It’s Will Smith’s company.”
He said, What, THE Will Smith?
Actually Jaden Smith! he was informed.
Mr. Meadows’ eyes widened and voice rose at each increasingly incredulous revelation.
Meadows asked, “JADEN Smith? The Karate Kid? The kid with the hair? He made a bottled water company?”
Punchline: “Well. My kids (16 and 18) are definitely underachievers.”
Pointing around to the now laughing audience, he told us, “Don’t laugh. Your kids are all underachievers, too. Hmf. Bottled water company.”
Somewhere in all this he took a more thoughtful swig, considered and said: “It’s not bad. A little metallic.”
Of course, most of Mr. Meadow’s material is planned, delivered with comfortable pacing. He’s good at what he does.
“I was born in the bad part of Detroit. That would be — Detroit.”
Edging toward the political he suggested a slightly outlandish plan for encouraging people to get to know people of other races, with a smart little punchline that I’ll leave for you to hear the next time he’s here.
He riffed long on being practically the only black person in the room, how white people confuse him with other black actor-comedians, how he plays off that.
Meanwhile, he observed, black people have no clue who he is, or why whites seem to think he’s interesting.
He presents in a unique voice, warm, with a slight laid-back detached humor. Role playing conversations throughout, he switched between voices imperceptibly, simply that good. Some of it got dirty, but never ugly.
Off the cuff, he veered into the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court hearings.
“I don’t have anything prepared, I’m just talking,” he near-apologized.
“I wish my friend Chris Farley was still alive,” he said. “I watched Kavanaugh in those hearings and thought: Wait, Chris, is that you?” He imaged a match-up between Kavanaugh and aged sitting judge Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
Near the end, he did a silent mimed bit that reminded us also of his actorly chops.
He promoted his many ongoing projects, including an upcoming spinoff for his supporting character in ABC’s The Goldbergs.
He closed with a riff on his signature SNL character, Leon Phelps, The Ladies Man. It brought to the stage a member of the audience, a young mother of three — including a seven-month-old — who proudly claimed, “no father, no man involved.”
More incredulty from Mr. Meadows: Imagine unlocking the comic potential of that random audience find. He was laughing, himself, enjoying it.
He appreciated, aloud and genuine, how laughing together helps build bridges, how important that becomes in a divisive political climate.
The theater was just under half full — not embarrassing, but a smaller crowd than a skilled performer of Mr. Meadow’s stature warrants.
Opener William Huges is from Fort Ann. His set got better as it progressed. His timing can be a little awkward. Bits that connected, he talked about the unique weirdness of rural upstate New York, versus, say, southern Tennessee.
Long riff, too, on his current hometown, Cohoes, where, some may recall, a reality TV show about forging your own sword out of recycled metal trash inspired some guy to try his own hand at it — resulting in a fire that burned down half of the downtown. True story, local fare, well-played for the can’t-believe-this-is-actually-true factor. Life is just funny. Or, alternately, best sometimes just to laugh. Seriously.
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