Bob Saget's Always Been a Dirty Bastard, You Just Didn’t Know It

It’s hard to imagine Danny Tanner wrapping up spousal and child abuse, incest, excrement, and semen in a single joke.

Bob Saget's life on television, particularly on Full House, portrayed him as squeaky clean. Or as he puts it, "A guy with a DustBuster and bouffant hairdo on maybe the most family-friendly show of all time." It's hard to imagine Danny Tanner wrapping up spousal and child abuse, incest, excrement, and semen in a single joke, as Saget did in the comedy documentary The Aristocrats, but that's the comedian's true nature; his work is actually filthy, disturbing, and sickly hilarious. He pushes the envelope until it's fallen off the table, and he has become successful doing it: He's sold out numerous venues, hosts the game show 1 vs. 100 on NBC, directed the critically panned but highly successful film Farce of the Penguins, and his new HBO special airs Aug. 25. Not bad for the ex-host of America's Funniest Home Videos. Seattle Weekly: The Aristocrats helped change what people thought of you. They saw you generally as a family-friendly guy. Bob Saget: It's so funny. That's why Paul Provenza and Penn Jillette, they didn't bat an eye. They knew what my comedy voice has always been like. I did a comedy special on HBO maybe 18 years ago, and I was talking about childbirth in a way I probably shouldn't have. I would say fuck. It wouldn't mean anything, it was just an adverb. And now that I've had a couple of cameos—The Aristocrats being one—a lot of people look and say, "Oh, God!" Have you always enjoyed doing filthy, or perhaps disturbing, comedy? I just like sick comedy. Everything's so screwed up that it's pretty funny. How messed up we all are, there's humor in it. Out of being uncomfortable and our own immaturity, we laugh at things that are incredibly inappropriate or hurtful. Rather than if you watch the news and read the newspaper, you're damaged. It's really painful to look at anything, just about. And then the stuff that's supposed to get us through is 90 hours of Paris Hilton a day....I just enjoy it, my life experience blended with pop culture. That's what my routine is. Could you give a few examples of what you've been talking about lately? Most of the stuff I'm doing now is a collage of the past six to seven years of just hitting the boards of stand-up in a real hard-core way, as far as performing goes. I guess a mission statement [might be], and this is a joke: Girls come up to me all the time and go, "Oh my God, I grew up watching you." And I go, "Good, now you're going to go down watching me." Oddly enough, it's still pun-ish, like America's Funniest Home Videos. Someone sent me something on my MySpace page or bobsaget.com—somebody e-mailed: "I'm watching America's Funniest Home Videos, and dude, nobody knew how filthy you were, and you were doing it on the air." Every week I was trying to do weird stuff. I think some guy fell on a pie, and I said, "Wow, that guy sure gave himself a facial!" And it didn't mean anything to anybody because they just said, "He's squeaky clean." All I was trying to do was curse with a smile. Do you hope people notice those double entendres, seeing repeats in syndication? I don't care because I did it already. It's nice that people are digging anything I've done past or present. Full House has become like home-cooked meat loaf to people. It's feel-good. It's like what Leave It to Beaver was when I was a 4-year-old and reruns were on. The exposure of Full House is exponential. It's gigantic. It's bigger than the Bradys. It's only bigger than that because it's on two hours a day on ABC Family and Nick at Nite. I was in Greece last week for a wedding. John Stamos met me there. We were walking around and people were like, "Oh my God, it's them from Full House. What are they doing here?" And the joke was that more people know the video show in Greece than Full House because presently the biggest American import in all of Greece is the original America's Funniest Home Videos....They run the first eight years, and they love it. As long as people are getting hit in the nuts in between your work, people are happy. How does your family inspire you? I'm working on getting material by hanging out with my children. The more I hang out with them, the more material I have. They inspire everything. I have three daughters, so it just doesn't stop. It's actually very fun. It's a lot of work, and it's well worth it. It's so weird that I do the kind of material I do, and yet so much is about my kids and my parents. I lost my dad a few months ago. It's not about the sadness of it. It's more about the sick sense of humor he handed down to me. I'm channeling him. Do your kids see any of your stand-up? When I shot the HBO special in New York, I didn't want any of my daughters there. I put them on a plane to go see their grandparents. My 14-year-old doesn't need to see it yet, but she's really smart, too, so she's kind of already seen the special. Is it even possible to classify what kind of act you have? I want to say it's like scat art, but that sounds like explosive diarrhea....It's basically a 9-year-old talking dirty....I performed in Denver last weekend. I'd been lecturing the audience about things they shouldn't do, like I'm their father and they should listen to me. "Don't have sex with animals. Stay away from my daughters." All the different things you can impart on the youth of today. It's just very funny to give such incredibly horrible advice and yet try to protect your own children at the same time. Farce of the Penguins has been very successful on DVD. What was the budget, and what's your take on its success? The budget was $1.5 million. It has done really well. I was renting Pan's Labyrinth at Blockbuster last night, and right in the middle of all the main titles were rows and rows of my movie. The guy tells me they couldn't keep it in stock. After March of the Penguins and Happy Feet, then we came out and Surf's Up came out; we are the luckiest people on the shelf because we cost very little to make. We're an underground movie. Some people really didn't like it. But then a gigantic number of people freaking loved it. Is that the same audience that goes to your stand-up shows? There's that and there's people who just like a good stoner movie. It is the same people that come to the shows, and it all feeds the same audience. It's a really good time for me. I'm just getting started. And that doesn't mean I'm not partial to 1 vs. 100. I have a nice day job. How do you like hosting a game show? Good. It's also been a hit. They're rerunning it now. In a couple weeks, I'll go in to shoot some new ones. NBC's been very supportive. That also has some subversive stuff in it, as much as you can get away with during a prime-time game show. I do as many testicle jokes as I can. Then do you have a double life—a TV persona and a stand-up persona? It's an astute observation for how I've been living, which has a schizophrenia to it. I've got all daughters. Last night they have girlfriends over, and [they say] all the guys in school say, "Your dad's the sickest motherfucker ever." I'm like "Oh no, what am I doing?" I don't want to be a dirty bastard, but I want to do what I find funny. The joke is almost that I'm doing what I'm doing. When I walked onstage during the HBO special, the audience was screaming "Saget!" These are 19-year-olds. The first thing I said to them, which is not clever, not anything: "Shut the fuck up! Don't disrespect, you're like a son to me." They grew up watching me. Will you do anything else like Farce of the Penguins? What's next? We're going to pitch something next week. But I can't say any more than that. We want to employ some of the same stuff we did for Farce. I'd like to do some more movie stuff, maybe direct, with actual human beings rather than just voicing over snuff footage. sludwig@seattleweekly.com

 
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