Bob Saget: talking dirty with my favorite 90's super dad

Bob Saget talks penises.

click to enlarge Bob Saget's new comedy stand-up coming live this Apr. 14 at Capitol Theatre. - Brian Friedman
Brian Friedman
Bob Saget's new comedy stand-up coming live this Apr. 14 at Capitol Theatre.

Growing up in the 1990s, we saw him in Full House, where he played Danny Tanner, a widowed father raising three daughters with help from brother in-law Uncle Jesse (John Stamos) and best friend Joey (Dave Coulier), two of the coolest sidekick uncles any single-mother child could hope for. We also saw him as the long-running and affable host in the family show America’s Funniest Home Videos. And when we got older, we got a taste of the post-Full House comedian. We watched him play a cocaine addict in Half-Baked, do a parody of himself in Entourage, make dirty family jokes in The Aristocrats, do jokes of Tourette’s Syndrome kids in his stand-up specials, and more. Now, with the recent Netflix release the Fuller House reboot under his belt, Bob Saget is back doing stand-up comedy once again. And he’s coming to Clearwater.

Bob Saget
$35-$55. April 16, 8 p.m. Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St, Downtown Clearwater.

It’s hard not to fan-girl out when you’re trying to get your childhood-surrogate-father. It's even harder when, afterwards, I asked him about his dirty humor. But Saget – now in his late 50s – is wonderfully polite and understanding. We talk Fuller House, being a dream-dad, dirty curse words, silly penis jokes, how he deals with his many personas, and what he’s got in store for us when he hits Capitol Theatre this Saturday. Don’t fucking miss out.
You went to film school at Temple University, where you won a student Oscar for a documentary about your nephew’s facial reconstruction surgery. How did you end up becoming a comedian and actor?

I ended up working at the Comedy Store, dropping out of grad school at USC, and pursuing stand-up full-time. Then I studied acting. I worked for about eight years trying to get a job. It was a hard time and I have no regrets. I’ve met a lot of wonderful people. We’ve been losing them of late, but thank goodness some great ones are still around. Like Don Rickles, who I love and is like a father to me. Richard Pryor and Rodney Dangerfield are probably my biggest mentors. I love doing what I do.

You were performing onstage for the Tony-nominated Broadway musical Hand of God before you started this tour. How was the transition?

All I kept thinking was when this is over I’m going to need to be funny. The play was hilariously funny but my character was very earnest. It got laughs through character, not intention. When I finished I had my agent book a comedy tour. I’m working on a new hour-long special and have been looking for new material. So, everywhere I go – [pauses] I was going to say everywhere you look, but that would’ve been the [Fuller House] theme song. But, everywhere I go I’m coming up with new stuff and have a bunch of new songs. There’s half music near the second half of my show. The first half, there’s a lot of stand up. I make my shows like a town meeting. I heard the Capitol Theatre in Clearwater was really beautiful. I know Don Rickles was just there. God I love that man. I directed him in Dirty Work with Norm MacDonald and Artie Lang. He’s hilarious. I mean if I don’t see him for a little bit, he’ll just grab me by the head, bring my ears right to his lips, and whisper: “I don’t miss you at all.”

Did you and the cast expect this much excitement when Fuller House was announced?

Fuller House is a sensation. It became what the show never was because the show wasn’t that popular. We had fans but as 10, 20 years went by, we found out it had become the definitive show everybody misses because it makes them feel like they were young again in a simpler time. [The fans] knew all the episode and catchphrases. It’s an honor that people love it so much… I’m happy for the girls because they’re working their asses off. They’re great and we’ve always been friends. it’s unusual to stay friends with a cast when they were kids. You wind up going out to dinner and their moms have to drive them. [Laughs.] No, by the time we were going to dinner Candace [Cameron Bure] was driving and Jodie [Sweetin]… was going to be driving soon. It’s nice and I try to have that in all working experiences with the people in my life. You don’t really want to go through superficial showbiz life, if possible. If you’re going to movie to movie, it’s hard to have a reunion of the movie you did five years ago. A TV show that runs for eight years is a different situation. Most people don’t stay close-close like we have. It’s really nice. [John] Stamos and Dave [Coulier] are like brothers to me. We’ve been all over the place. We did a lot to promote the show and it was funny to be on TV shows together.

Did you have a flashback to the old Full House days when returning to do the show?

I’m just really happy that this whole Fuller House thing worked out as well as it did for everybody. When they rebuilt the thing, I was like: “Holy crap. They rebuilt the set." I own — well it’s probably on lifetime loan — a jacket made of the material of the couch. In the eighth episode the dog eats the couch, they have to reupholster it and my character Danny Tanner gets really upset. They had extra fabric so they made a blazer out of it for me and I’m in love with it.

Did you guys not know you were going to be a pop culture icon when working on Full House?

At the time, [America’s Funniest Home Videos] was number one. And, I don’t mean pee-pee like the show was number one and Full House was number two. Full House was number seven [in ratings] at some point. That makes you rise to fame very quickly, and they were for family things. My stand-up was always a separate thing I always did. It was more like a nine-year-old who said a lot of bad words.

You’ve been a widowed father of three on Full House and a raunchy comedian in your stand-up. It seems like people are always asking you which character you really are. Do you define yourself that way?

It doesn’t make any sense that anybody thinks someone that plays a character is a character. It’s kind of weird that people live in a fairytale odd world and just don’t understand what acting is. Whereas other people realize if you’re playing a murderer in a movie, you’re not a murderer. I’ve been on Law & Order SUV twice over the past ten years and I was a murderer both times, because, it’s opposite day! You just don’t expect me to do it. Danny Tanner became the thing I wear the badge of honor and am proud of. It made a lot of families happy. Although, if I acted that way at home it would be just sad, you would want to medicate the guy. What’s great about him was how much he loved his family. How much I love my kids is what I put into that. I only had one baby when the show started. She was my eldest and it’s really interesting how I ended up having three girls after the show was already created.

A lot of the audience who grew up watching Full House saw Danny Tanner as a kind of surrogate father. How do you feel about the gender role reversal of mothers and fathers in Fuller House?

I think it’s brilliant. I thought it was a real smart way to do it. Especially at a time where, hopefully, women are being enabled to run their lives. There have been more single-parent-moms than dads because dads, by profiling, tend to leave. When I got divorced 20 years ago, I was a very active father so I would be with my kids constantly. I’m friends with their mom and we’re all very fortunate. My therapy bills, of course, went through the roof. But you do what you have to do. All the people from the show have heard how we helped raise them when they had a parent that either passed away or wasn’t there. I even hear from people in prisons who say: “I was in prison and all I watched was Full House. Where do you live?” That gets me a little scared [chuckles]. That’s what you don’t want to hear. But it’s nice, it’s really nice.

Do you feel your Full House audience differs from your stand-up audience?

My stand-up has the same weight as Full House for people. When I show up they think: “Oh god, what’s he going to do?” I never do anything out of line that gets me in huge trouble, but I always push the envelope. I get bored easily. I love entertaining and I’m virally insane. I’m on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat now. I like doing things that are different. I don’t know what they’re going to be. People don’t know what they’re going to be… But if I’m not their cup of tea, then they should just switch to another brand of tea.

Do you express your personality more through stand-up?

You’re in a heightened state when you perform. When you go to a Celine Dion show, you don’t think she acts like that at home. She doesn’t stand by the window with wind blowing in her hair singing the theme song from Titanic. That’s actually a great example. I’m more like myself in my actual life like in this conversation than I am in my stand-up. I’m very conversational.

I like how explicit you are.

I love R-rated. R-rated means you’re not talking to a nine-year-old. I don’t try to offend anybody. If I feel that an audience is offended, I don’t continue down that line. I’m not trying to say, “Hey, in your face!” I’m more like a 16-year-old kid that knows a lot of street talk. Which is funny because I don’t look like I do. I look more like a dentist or something. I think there’s more of my real personality because I’m so comfortable onstage in my show. I’m a personality driven comedian.

You were born in Philadelphia and traveled a lot in your early years. Was that hard?

At four years old we moved to West Virginia. At 14, we moved to Encino, California. When I was 17, I moved back to Philadelphia. Then I went to Temple University. Then I lived at home. It was all a struggle. Nothing came easy. My dad worked at the grocery chain Pantry Pride, which was very big in Florida. The owners lived in Florida when they sold the company. My dad became one of the 4,000 employees that was out of work. He took it well and did really well for himself. He lived to 89 and passed away 10 years ago. it was quite funny.

Your comedy is dark and dirty. Can you illicit the same effect when being censored?

Bob Newhart calls me at home and asks: “Are you still cursing?” I’m like, yes but it’s not the same it was. Jerry Seinfeld is one of my favorite comedians ever has a certain kind of comedy. It’s brilliant that he chooses not to curse in his comedy. He certainly knows how to. They’re using their craft at more massive audiences, I would assume. That’s no different than people who are selling out more tickets than anyone else. Chris Rock, Louis C.K. and Bill Burr are brilliant and certainly not censoring themselves. I’m not saying I fall into this category. The only reason I got profiled into that category is because I do so much family television. But I do many things: I act, I write, I direct, I write music, and I don’t do enough cardio. When you wear a bunch of different hats, people want to pigeonhole you and I refuse to be pigeonholed. Pigeonholing sounds like a person in a prison room.

I was only expecting you to talk a bit more dirty to me, Bob.

Well, nobody wants a father who talks filthy to his daughters. My daughters and I, we’ll go out to dinner and talk. There’s no barriers. There’s no reason not to say fuck — as long as it’s not a verb. But I don’t curse that much in regular life or onstage, actually. I just do funny. What people can expect is a really good time and it’ll be like a date – without discussing politics or religion because that does nothing but incite anger and frustration.

Will there be cursing in the show?

Of course. It’s a regular show. It’s in the same wheelhouse as my last special, That’s What I’m Talking About, but more evolved. I’m older, I’ve got different experiences, it’s not the same stories, and I talk a little bit more differently. In a serious way, I’m talking about my mother being deceased and how she’s planning to come back and visit me. And that’s a problem. I don’t want people coming back to visit me after they’re gone no matter how much I love them. I go from things that were influenced by the book into material about my kids and about relationships, because I’m super single. It’s no different than relationship dating stories from a 30 or 40-year-old. I’ve never really seen my age anyways, I’ve always fit in more with a younger audience. There are people around my age that get set in their ways and are kind of disgruntled. I look for the joy in life and if there’s negative stuff that comes out, I don’t have it.

How could anyone hate you?

Oh, I don’t understand either. If you have four million people following your stuff, you’re going to have a person say something negative. But life’s too short to spend even a millisecond on someone that brings out the worst in things. I’m a pretty sensitive guy, if anything I need a force field around me. I do what I do because I love it. I don’t do it because I have to. I’m fortunate.

Does it bother you when people try to categorize you as either Danny Tanner from Full House or Bob Saget, the raunchy comedian from The Aristocrats or Entourage?

Well, I’m a multi-dimensional human being. When you see Leonard Nimoy in public, you don’t go “Oh my god, it’s Spock.” Yeah, he was Spock but he’s really Leonard Nimoy. There’s nothing more amazing than talking to the guy that understands the character of Mr. Spock… I just continue to redefine myself instead of sitting in an urn.

Do you think of cursing as a necessary way of expressing yourself?

Well, I’m not doing Fifty Shades of Grey up there. I tell stories about it though, because I interviewed E.L. James on The View. I  have a whole section on name dropping where I just talk about famous people and stories about them which is pretty funny.

Your comedy may be explicit, but it’s not meant to be offensive, is it?

I do it the way that I find most funny and best suited to the material. The other day I tweeted “I’m thinking of making my penis sleep in the guest room”  and some people got very offended. It’s just silly. You can’t have your penis sleep in your guest room because it’s part of your body. You don’t need to explain the three steps it takes to get to that one stupid penis joke. I’m just saying I can’t sleep because I’m horny. Or, penises are the root of all evil because they ruin people’s lives. That’s why Napoleon lost France. He was in love with Josephine. There’s a lot of levels to a funny joke.

How would you describe who you really are?

I’m an ongoing artist. I flip from thing to thing and I go through the door that opens. So when people ask me to write a book and I have five offers from different publishers, I say yes but – I don’t know what it’s going to be. Dirty Daddy turned out to be a book about death, comedy and how they intersect. I was planning to talk about my penis. I never stop with those. I can’t not do a dick joke. That’s like asking an alcoholic not to drink. 

Ying Lo writes about television. She has a blog or you can find her flunking social media @yinglo. Let her tell you how best to binge watch every Monday.

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