How Bob Saget Balanced Family Comedy and Filthy Stand-Up
Late comedian Bob Saget highlighted the dichotomy between his squeaky-clean TV characters and his filthy stand-up routine, saying everyone has a "dirty mind."
Saget, who played the straitlaced Danny Tanner on Full House and its recent sequel Fuller House, was found dead in his Orlando hotel room on Sunday afternoon at the age of 65, following a performance in Jacksonville on Saturday night.
His Full House co-star John Stamos, who played Uncle Jesse, issued a statement on Twitter saying he was in "complete and utter shock" about his friend's death, adding, "I will never ever have another friend like him. I love you so much, Bobby."
Candace Cameron Bure, who played Tanner's daughter DJ, tweeted, "Bob was one of the best humans beings I've ever known in my life. I loved him so much."
On Full House, Saget played a widowed father of three girls described as "type A, caring, responsible," and who tried to make everyone feel "appreciated." Danny Tanner never pushed the envelope much on the show, but Saget's real-life stand-up routine stood in stark contrast, often fueled by "dark" moments the comedian said were rooted in his childhood relationship with his father. If fans came to Saget's comedy shows expecting an hour of lighthearted, family-friendly jokes, they would have been shocked to hear him unleash a torrent of f-bombs and sexually explicit material.
Saget released a book in 2014 called Dirty Daddy: The Chronicles of a Family Man Turned Filthy Comedian that spotlighted his relationship with his family and his reputation for "sick humor." Vulgarity was a common part of his stand-up act, as were stories about his "sick" and "creepy" father. Saget often referred to his dad onstage, saying the two had a "weird existence."
In one routine, Saget jokingly referred to his father as a "walking rim shot" and credited him for being the original dirty joke-teller. In Dirty Daddy, he wrote about a goat his father "bought for two Zuzim, which translates into half a shekel, an unheard-of good deal for a goat those days. My father bought that goat for the family, but it proved to like my mother better than him, always headbutting my dad’s ass and yelling, 'Maahaaa.'" The jokes got way raunchier from there.
Saget appeared alongside dozens of other comedians in the 2005 documentary The Aristocrats, dedicated to the X-rated joke of the same name. The premise of the joke is simple: A man walks into a talent agency to pitch an act, whereupon he and his family members begin to participate in the most sexually graphic and violent acts imaginable — all of which are ad-libbed by the comedian delivering the joke. At the end of the bit, the talent agent asks the family the name of their act, to which they reply, "The Aristocrats." Saget's version of the joke is memorialized in the film and advertised on YouTube as the title "Dirtiest Joke in the World."
Saget also shared his NSFW Full House memories with late-night talk host Conan O'Brien on TBS in 2013. He reflected on one particularly memorable Full House episode, which featured a live donkey named Eeyore on set. "The donkey got excited in front of the audience, and it got an erection," Saget said. "I didn't know what to do 'cause there were kids there ... so I started to call the thing Peppermill instead of Eeyore." You can watch Saget tell the story below.
In Dirty Daddy, Saget gave credit to fellow comedian George Carlin for having a big influence on his stage routine. Carlin was also known for his coarse comedy and slung his share of f-bombs in 14 HBO specials that aired between 1977 and his death in 2008. Saget said Carlin "passed away shortly after we were trying to schedule lunch. I think he wanted to avoid having lunch with me so badly that he chose death. My narcissistically self-deprecating cap to the loss of one of the many great people I knew briefly (in his case, very briefly) in my life whose end came too soon."
Full House aired from 1987-95; Fuller House streamed on Netflix between 2015-20. Saget was also the host of America's Funniest Home Videos from 1989-97, and his LP, That's What I'm Talkin' About, was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album in 2014.
Still, no matter how many lucrative, family-friendly ventures Saget pursued, he never lost the acerbic edge that made him beloved by stand-up fans and fellow comedians.