Bob Saget talks stand-up, his new movie, and everything in between

Photo Credit: Brian Friedman
 
 

The Full House icon visits The Wilbur this weekend with a lot of excitement for just about everything

Everywhere you look, everywhere you go, Bob Saget is there.

For more than 30 years, families across the globe have had some type of exposure to some form of the pop culture icon. Whether it be the goofy voiceover-loving host of America’s Funniest Home Videos, the neat-freak father on Full House, or the antithetical douchebag version of himself on Entourage, the man we’ve come to know as the “Dirty Daddy” has always stayed around. And at 62, he has no plans of slowing down.

In the midst of a full-fledged stand-up tour that brings him to The Wilbur on Friday night (April 19), Saget is also anticipating not only the release of his next directorial credit, the Redbox exclusive dark comedy, Benjamin on April 23, but he’s also looking forward to the first full slate of episodes for his newest TV show, Videos After Dark, later this year. Don’t worry — Fuller House is in there somewhere too, but let’s not rush to get back on that nostalgia train just yet, as it is heading into its final season.

Vanyaland recently connected with the guitar-wielding comedy legend to chat about his return to Boston and his new film, as well as his upcoming TV show, and of course, his role as Danny Tanner and the impact that Full House and it’s new-age reboot has had on his career. And no, we didn’t ask him about Lori Loughlin.

Jason Greenough: Let’s start with the reason we’re here — your show at The Wilbur on the 19th. How are you feeling about making your way back to the city?

Bob Saget: I’m completely excited about it. I think there are only a few seats left, because single people need to go out and be with people too, even though it’s probably by choice. I love The Wilbur, though. I’ve played it so many times, and every time I’ve played it, it’s just always been the best, and I can’t wait to do it again.

The Wilbur is just a magical theatre. I’m bringing my comedy brother, Mike Young, who has toured with me for years, as well. I met him when he was writing for Entourage, and now he’s writing on my new show, Videos After Dark, and that’s really a fun thing to do with your buddy. He’s never played The Wilbur, so it’s also a big deal for him, because it’s such a cool theatre. I’ve played The Orpheum, and a few others. I used to play the Comedy Underground, or basically anywhere that Bill Blumenreich had something to do with. I would go there just because I liked the way he talked, and he would make me laugh. He’s a good guy!

I have a few other gigs in the area, but I’m basing myself in Boston because I love it so much. This is a real, full tour, and it’s going to continue because, more and more, I feel people just need to laugh, and I feel like I’m needed. It’s like when the Blues Brothers knock on the door and say they’re on a mission from God. Not to bring religion into it, but I feel I am able to do something that can help people feel better.

Right on! With the reception of Zero to Sixty, how are you feeling bringing this new batch of material to the city?

It’s really cool, because the music is one thing. So when I do music, a couple people recognize it because they want it. I turn into a real musician because people like some of the songs from my past specials, and they request them so I do them like anyone else who would do music. A big idol of mine, since I was 17 years old, is Martin Mull, who I’m actually directing a documentary about, and he would do the whole comedy music thing, and riff in between songs.

So there’s a little element of that in [the new material], but not much. I’ve written comedy songs since I was 14, so I was a guitar act for ten years. Even when I started at the Comedy Store in 1978, I was guitar act. So, with the stand-up portion, I’d say I have a bout a new twenty, but that changes, because I change constantly. And when I do stuff people have heard before, I cop to it right away, but there is a lot of new stuff, and I love talking to my audience. They call it “crowd work” nowadays, but they didn’t call it crowd work when Don Rickles was doing it. They just said he was good with a crowd.

Crowd work was really just ammo for Don, wasn’t it?

He was amazing. He would just fire away, but it was a different time. You can’t really do what he did anymore. People do, if there’s an act that isn’t white anglo saxon protestant, except, God bless Jim Gaffigan who calls himself out as being white and pasty. Otherwise, a lot of people identify what they are, and how people see them or what they’ve been through, and there’s a little bit of that in my stand-up now, which I’ve never really shared.

That’s great to hear! I can’t wait for that. Now, how is Videos After Dark going?

It’s going great. We had our first look, which I had never heard of until now, after The Bachelor where he screwed the pooch and told everyone he had already been unvirginated, and that went really well. It played really well, and we’re really happy with it. I do my voiceovers, which sound kind of like a bad Mel Blanc, but I modulate them so they don’t all sound the same, and I also do my regular Bob voice that sounds like I’m narrating How I Met Your Mother, except people are getting hit in the crotch. 

It’s gonna be on at 10 o’clock on ABC, because it has to be. I love that disclaimer, because it sounds like I’m on Girls Gone Wild, but then you see this gorgeous set, and you’re like “Wow, this is really something,” and then you show someone hurling all over the place on a roller coaster ride. I try to do voiceovers for that, but it just grosses me out too much.

We had a short window to shoot 14 episodes, but we worked really hard on them, and they’ll either be out in the summer or the fall. They’re trying to pick the favorite time, but we are a definite to be on TV, and it’s going to be great, because people just need to laugh. You’re much better off going to bed after watching someone accidentally set their house on fire, or get hit in the crotch, or hearing a baby drop the “F” bomb. The harder the fall, the better the sleep is how I see it.

Absolutely. You also have Benjamin coming out on Redbox soon.  How are you feeling about that?

I’m really happy with it. The key to doing this with Redbox is that it’s going to reach more people than it every possibly could, unless you make a Sideways or some other independent film that just comes out of nowhere. This isn’t Blair Witch, but it’s a dark comedy and it’s a very serious topic. The last thing I’ll say about it is that it’s like Danny Tanner off the rails. He’s just gone, he’s a mess.

It’ll be great to watch, though. I’m really excited to see it.

BS: Thank you, I really appreciate that. The trailer looks great, doesn’t it? I just hope the movie lives up to the trailer. It definitely builds up. What I love about it, is that, not unlike my stand-up, which is why they felt so strongly about me being the guy to direct it, it goes down different alleyways you don’t expect. It’s something that I’m very happy I did, and I’m already looking forward to the next one.

Where did the idea for this film come from?

It came from a writer named Joshua Turek, who has been working on it for many years with Nicholas Tabarrok, and the both of them thought I’d be a great fit to direct it, because they both loved Dirty Work, and regarded it very highly. 

They also knew that I had done the movie For Hope with Dana Delanythat was based on the loss of my sister to the disease scleroderma, which I will always work to raise money and try to cure. I actually have a benefit coming up for that on April 25 with John Stamos doing the auction, so nobody will be watching me, and Ken Jeong, Ray Romano, and a special guest, a living legend who I cannot divulge just yet. But I assure you that they are alive.

That’s always a plus!

BS: It’s so much better, because you don’t have to prop them up or anything, but the formaldehyde always helped that. But you would be a legend if you brought out one of the greats.

Shifting back to your stand-up career for a bit. When you look back at your place in the stand-up scene back when Full House premiered in ‘87, a big driving force behind the initial appeal to the show was your name in stand-up, and now you fast-forward 30 years, and Fuller House is now turning a younger generation of fans onto your stand-up. Does it feel weird to see how you’re career has kinda come full circle in that way?

Between Videos and Fuller House, I asked my agent if he could find me a job that I haven’t had yet. But the truth of it is, I love everyone on that show. They’ve always been there for me, and I’ve always been there for them. It’s unusual how we always have kept in contact. We’re what they call the legacy cast, but what I love about the show and still being able to do it, is that I know the value of what the original was. I didn’t know it when I was doing it, because I was too worried that I wasn’t being funny enough, and I was wearing geeky clothes, and vacuuming a vacuum cleaner.

There’s no bit of my persona that ever enters my mind when I’m playing Danny, and it’s just a part. You can tell that by the roles I played after that that are the complete opposite of that.

But the truth is, it’s great to make families laugh. People would tell me that I ruined Danny Tanner for them after watching my other roles or my stand-up, and now they’re coming to my shows. Same thing with Videos, where the eight-year olds that loved AFV are now, like 35. I didn’t reinvent the show for a younger crowd. This show is for them.

But seeing how Danny has grown on Fuller House into the character he is, it’s great to be able to do that. It’s a little sad that it’s the final season, but you can watch it with your parents who want nostalgia, and to be brought back to their childhood. That’s why it’s done so well, and I really have to hand it to Candace [Cameron-Bure], and Jodie [Sweetin], and Andrea [Barber] for pulling it off.

Looking back at when you first started doing stand-up, and your material was largely seen as taboo, has your approach changed now that you’re in a comedy scene that almost expects you to be obscene?

It was more silly, and it still is. I’ll say something to someone, and they’ll say it’s dirty, but it’s silly. To me, it’s not R-rated. If I’m dropping and “F” bomb, sure, but if I’m not, then it’s just silly and weird, and I love that because it’s play time. When I get up on stage and pull the mic out, it’s play time. It’s just me and the crowd. It’s a town meeting when I go to The Wilbur. It’s a town meeting when I go to Tupelo Music Hall in New Hampshire. Every gig is like a first or fourth date since I’ve been there so many times. Jerry Seinfeld says that it’s not a monologue you’re doing, it’s a dialogue. They don’t have lines, but they are the other voice. It’s a beautiful art form, because there’s no more basic art form, and it’s a shared experience.

Laughing is so important, and it’s truly healthy. It’s the Norman Cousins approach, where if you’re sick, you gotta try to input as much positivity and humor as you can.

BOB SAGET :: Friday, April 19 at The Wilbur Theatre, 246 Tremont St. in Boston, MA :: 7:30 p.m., $29 to $43 :: Event page :: Advance tickets