You may know him as the cleaning-obsessed dad Danny Tanner, but if there’s one thing you should know about Bob Saget is that he shouldn’t be confused with his TV persona.
Although you might have only seen Saget on family-friendly television shows such as Full House and American’s Funniest Home Videos, he has been performing as a raunchy stand-up comedian for 42 years.
When not cracking jokes, he’s writing books, performing on Broadway, directing movies and raising his three daughters.
Saget performed a new stand-up routine at the CFE Arena on Wednesday night and said he considered it an honor to perform at colleges who often have their choice of who they want to bring in to perform.
While he said the show will be “fun as hell,” the Central Florida Future caught up with the comedian before all the excitement began to ask about his success, and what’s next for everyone’s favorite TV dad.
How did you get started in the comedy business? Have you always had an interest in comedy?
Well, it all kind of happened to me. I really didn’t plan it. I was going to be pre-med. I went to Temple University. But I did so badly in science and math, they said, “There is no tutoring that’s going to help this poor person’s mind,” and I ended up in the film school … I was always doing comedy. I’ve made little movies since I was 9. When I was 17, I sang a song about bondage and I won a radio contest in Philadelphia. So then, I started doing comedy in local clubs. I put on shows with the improv groups … and then I was doing better in Philly, and then when I moved to L.A. when I was 21 or 22, I was going to go to USC grad school for film, but the Comedy Store … asked me if I wanted to work there as a regular as a comedian. I decided to do comedy. I was mainly a guitar act, and then I just started getting jobs.
I already had seven years or so of stand-up under my belt by the time I got a show called The Morning Program. I got fired from that because they said I was too edgy for morning TV.
I got this job on Full House and I started acting. [Saget pauses to question why people were confused when they met him after seeing his Full House character on television] Why would you think I am Danny Tanner? I’m not my stand up character either. I’m a person with a strange sense of humor. I like rap. What’s the problemo? [laughs]
After a year, they offered me America’s Funniest Home Videos and that was history. I did both shows for eight years. And then I was doing stand-up throughout and that would sometimes be a little Jekyll and Hyde. People seemed to think, “I thought he was going to be an amicable young man who dust busted.” [laughs]
I’ve always done stand-up. It’s like an old friend I always go back to. It’s like my hard drive, it’s always there.
You have a book, Dirty Daddy, about your transition from being a comedian known for raunchy humor to a wholesome family actor. Can you describe that transition for me?
That’s so weird to me, that people would think that actors are a character on TV show. I always compare it to Hannibal Lecter … or that guy who plays Superman right now. Do they think that he can fly? But it makes sense … I’m not trying to blow that out.
My stand-up just came out of what it came out of. It just organically happened. It’s nice … I definitely pay homage to Full House, there’s a lot of references. I cover everything. It’s a cultural thing … there’s a certain kind of cultural iconic thing with it because the show is so immensely popular. It’s funny because critics never liked the old one and people just did. The critics, they love the newer one. It just makes me feel really happy.
My mother passed away … this book, Dirty Daddy … explores how death and comedy are related and how comedy got us through a lot of difficult stuff.
My stand-up is based on true things. It’s not just to come out and do a bunch of [expletive] jokes. But I don’t talk about religion or politics because it’s just exhausting. It’s like a bad date.
My thing is to entertain the people and to have fun with them. So in a way, my standup has the same wholesomeness as Danny Tanner because I just want everyone to get along and have fun in the end.
How has your role on Full House impacted your life?
Hugely. It changed my life completely … when you become well known for something and it’s a TV show, you become known for that. It’s like the cast of Friends or that cast of Seinfeld, you become known as that character and it used to bug me a little bit. Not [that] I’ve fully embraced it. I like being America’s father who hasn’t done anything terrible to people. Its nice to be other people’s dad, people online call me dad … that makes me happy.
Is there anyone from the Full House cast that you’ve stayed in touch with since the original show ended? Who are you closest to?
I’ve been close with everyone. John [Stamos] and Dave [Coulier] are definitely my brothers. I love Candace [Cameron-Bure] and Jodie [Sweetin]. Andrea [Barber] is a niece, and Lori [Loughlin] I love like a sister. I’ve had a lot of loss. I lost two sisters and I lost my parents … and it’s a nice feeling that you’re not alone when that stuff happens.
There is a family aspect to our relationship, which is a lot of people to have that feeling to. I’m close to Mary-Kate and Ashley [Olsen] too. I just love them very much ... it’s not always a big group thing. I think if they lived in L.A., we’d all see each other more … it’s nice to know that when people work together, they still like each other. I think it’s warming a lot of people’s hearts.
Do you have any pre-show rituals? What do you do after your shows?
After the show it’s pretty easy. You meet a few people and that’s not a big deal because you’re just trying to change. Before the show, I have no one around me for half an hour. I learned that being on Broadway. That half hour is a sacred hour; everyone focuses. The whole idea is to have kind of a meditated attitude before the show ... as a comedian, you pace around and you look up your material and you try to remember it all. If I’m improvising quite a bit, I want to get back to what I planned. You have to drill the material into yourself before you go on. Ten minutes, or five minutes before you go on, you just put down your notes and let it go. You just trust.
There are a lot of student comedians on campus. Do you have any advice for students looking to break into the comedy or acting business?
I think one of the main things I always answer is that if your goal is to be famous, you’re misguided. Just get a reality show or run for president. [laughs]
I’m an artist. I like to do many things. You have to love the work. You have to love the craft. It’s all within you. And really learn it. Learn it the right way. Don’t go up and steal people’s material.
With acting, it’s different. Do it as much as you can. My advice would be just do it and really be focused about it. You’re going to get so much rejection; it’s going to be unbelievable. You’ll have shows that will suck. You won’t get things as an actor. But if you’re amazing, no one can take that from you, and if people respond to you, you can make a career out of it.
You have to write comedy … they have to find their own voice. And that’s the hardest thing I’ve had to do… just go out and tell the truth. That’s the advice: to tell the truth in what you’re doing.
Deanna Ferrante is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter @deannaferrante or email her at DeannaF@centralfloridafuture.com.