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Funny Guy: Q & A with Bob Saget

By Dan Leahul

Despite starring on two of the most squeaky-clean shows network television has ever produced, Full House and America’s Funniest Home Videos, Bob Saget is not, or never will be, a Danny Tanner-type.

With daughters of his own and a decidedly suburbanite lifestyle, Saget remains true to himself, as an out of his mind, raunchy stand-up comedian, and has been for over thirty years.

Bob Saget performs at the Jack Singer Concert Hall Dec 18

From his scene-stealing cameos in Half Baked, The Aristocrats, or HBO’s Entourage, Saget has never shied away from embracing his dark side.
Not to mention, Saget remains one of the busiest men in show business. From directing cult favorite feature film Dirty Work, to directing and producing the acclaimed television movie, For Hope, to starring in the off-Broadway play, Privilege, he also shows no sign of slowing down.

His distinctly adult brand of comedy, which deals with life as a single dad, dating, divorce, and any questions you had about Full House, will leave you looking at the man in a whole new light.

Saget’s newest North American comedy tour kicks off this fall, with a number of choice Western Canadian dates included. Where Calgary got a chance to talk to Bob before he hit the road.

What can you tell me about the upcoming tour?

I did a show in Vegas about a week ago with my new material and it was a lot of fun. I haven’t been in Calgary in a couple of years but I really love the city, it’s one of the best audiences I’ve performed for. It sounds insincere and “butt-kissy” but I’ve come there before and just loved it. Certain places, people are just really into comedy.

For this tour, I’m choosing places that I really want to go to. A lot of my act depends on my engagement with the audience. I hit the stage and I don’t know what I’m going to do, I have a thousand things I want to say. Mostly, I end up improving, exploring different material relationships with the audience.

Are you planning on spending anytime in Calgary?

Unfortunately not, just like last year, I arrive in the city and look at how beautiful it is and ask why am I not just going to Banff? I never get to spend enough time, and I won’t be because of the tour, every night is a show in a different city. It’s a little bit of a bummer.

I am doing a show in Medicine Hat, and I’ve never been there before. But I’ve been told that it’s a really fun gig. I’ve had a bunch of friends that have played it, who I respect.

Are you looking forward to going back on the road?

I am. There’s a romance to pulling a microphone stand and talking to people and entertaining them for the night. There are things I love about it, but there are things I don’t. You miss your home, your family.

Are people still shocked to find out about your “blue” style of comedy?

I don’t think I’m dirty as most people around. However, when you see some of my stuff on television, and there’s a lot of bleeping, so I can’t be completely in denial.

For the most part, I’m so not as blue as some many of the other comics out there. College kids will often come up to me after the show and tell me that they’re bummed that I wasn’t dirtier. I’m either evolving or the audience is devolving [laughs].

I did an HBO comedy special when Full House and AFV were in the top ten and I was dropping f-bombs on the special, and for some reason, it did well in the ratings, and people were a little shocked. I get the image thing; I was a little more wholesome looking back then. If you turned the sound off and watch, you don’t think I’m saying anything bad. I look more like a dentist or an accountant. There’s only so many ways to cut my hair.

Ever since you started stand-up at the age of 17, you incorporated a lot of music into your act, did you write any songs for the new tour?

The music that I’m doing now, people know it and they sing some of the new songs with me. I really love engaging the audience like that, the more I do it the more I love it.

I used to be exclusively a guitar act when I started. I use to sing my Guitar Gently Weeps by George Harrison and turn a valve and my guitar would leak water over the stage. Now I’m a little more sophisticated, I have a nice acoustic Taylor, plug it in and try and give people a really fun night out and sing songs that are so reiterative, that by the time they go home the are singing them, cursing me all night because they can’t get them out of their heads.

You have a new documentary television show (Strange Days with Bob Saget) coming out on A&E this fall, what can viewers expect?

I really am happy with it. I pretty much go and hang with some sect American subculture for a week and they film it. One episode I joined a motorcycle gang and road from Nashville to Daytona in a sidecar. Another I’m in the Pacific Northwest where I’m looking for Bigfoot. I also did a Hunter S. Thompson-esque, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas show where we went to the Mint 400 (motorcycle race) and I retraced his path. Another, I joined a fraternity at Cornell. My picture is hanging in this frat now, for real

It’s for A&E and we get to do things that are a little more off the beaten path. I started in documentary film school, so it’s kind of gone back to my roots, so I’m really excited about the show.

After Full House and America’s Funniest Home Videos, you entered the director’s chair, first for the television-movie For Hope and the now cultish comedy Dirty Work, any plans on returning to that role?

I love directing. I made For Hope years ago for my sister and I’m proud member of the Scleroderma research foundation and we do benefits all the time, we’ve raised over $20m for research, so I like to do things I’m really passionate about so I definitely want to do more directing.

The thing about directing is that it is a year of your life, which is an amazing year of your life but it also takes you off the market from doing other stuff. There’s a piece that I want to do that I might be doing, directing and acting in it as well, but we’ll see what that turns into.

Who are some of your favourite comedians at the moment?

I always go back to watching Chris Rock, he’s like Michael Jordan. Zach Galafanakis is funny. Dimitri Martin’s really good. Daniel Tosh has his new show that’s doing really well. I’m a huge Chappelle fan. I pretty much like everybody, I don’t watch stand-up and say: “I don’t like them” unless they’re mean or stupid. For the most part I respect everybody that gets up and does it.

Half Baked came out 12 years ago; do you still have people yelling your infamous line to you when you’re walking down the street?

Absolutely, and I can’t help but pay homage to it in my stand-up. I was directing Dirty Work in Toronto and I did Half Baked as a lark, I just walked on the set because Dave Chappelle is a friend. I guess that was the biggest shock, that the father of a sitcom yelled that out.

Are you a hockey fan?

I am and I have a few friends who play or use to. But I haven’t been following it for so long. I have to get my ass in gear for my Canada dates. I swear by the time I get there I will be informed! It’s going to be a lot of fun for me to be there, I’m really looking forward to it.

Bob Saget performs at the Jack Singer Concert Hall on December 18, 2010.

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