Bob Saget … like you never thought you’d see him

Joe Shearer

Not many actors can completely change their image and still appeal to their same audience, but that’s exactly what Bob Saget accomplished when he jumped ship from his family-friendly persona in 1998.

Think about it. Saget became famous for his role as the wholesome Danny Tanner in the television sitcom, “Full House.” During that time, he also hosted “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” becoming a kid-friendly, mother-approved icon. However, all of that changed with a few seconds of screen time in the 1998 film, Half Baked, where Saget plays a drug addict and utters one of the most shockingly offensive lines in his career.

Parallel to his cameo appearance, he was also directing the film, Dirty Work, starring Norm MacDonald. At that time, the very people who were outgrowing Saget began to again take an interest in the actor, but for very different reasons than when they first saw him as Danny Tanner.

Saget didn’t stop there — he still shocks and makes audiences laugh out loud. Whether it’s his big, dirty joke in the gross-out, comedy documentary, The Aristocrats, or his appearance in the HBO comedy, “Entourage,” the actor-comedian always manages to surprise viewers. Perhaps it’s because the people laughing at his jokes grew up with a completely different image of him, and have no other choice but to laugh out of shock. Or, perhaps he’s just a funny guy. Either way, it’s one hell of a transformation.

Next week, Saget will bring his raunchy, less innocent brand of humor to Kent State. With his new movie, Farce of the Penguins, his hosting on the show “1 vs. 100” and an HBO special this summer, Saget shows no signs of slowing down, or cleaning up his act for that matter.

“I think it’s trying to be honest with who you are and what you are, as incredibly Danny-fruity as that sounds,” Saget said. “I couldn’t take one more person saying to me things like, ‘I didn’t know you were funny.'”

Saget contested that he never really changed his image, as he was doing standup before his work on “Full House” and “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” He said being offered the role of Danny Tanner was just the logical road to take.

“Before I even did those shows, I was one of the bluer comedians coming up,” he said. “My standup was always all screwed up. All my stuff was weird, sicko crap. Then I got this job on CBS, like in six months, they fired me, and then I got ‘Full House.’ They had another guy in the part, and they replaced him with me. And, the character was a clean freak; I made him a clean freak. I said, ‘Let’s have him love his kids.’ I had a new baby at the time, I was 29 or 30 years old, I’ll hug everybody.”

During that time when everyone thought of him as a family-friendly persona, Saget continued with his brand of comedy, albeit under the radar.

“When I was doing those shows, I did an HBO special,” he said. “I said ‘fuck’ like 20 times, I did terrible things, but nobody seemed to care; it was weird. I think I’m a little more abrasive now because I’m like a mission statement, like a 12-year-old jumping up an down going, ‘I’m not Danny Tanner!'”

Surely, if people were shocked by his three lines in Half Baked, his new public image was solidified by his dirty “joke” in 2005’s The Aristocrats.

“That’s not a joke,” said Saget, “it’s just absurdity. Half of it may do well, and then half it flies right flat. You can’t analyze it, because if you do, you’ll cock-block your creativity.”

Also in 2005, Saget made a notable appearance on the HBO comedy, “Entourage,” as character Vincent Chase’s neighbor. Playing himself, he lives in a mansion and hosts parties full of high-class hookers. Though only seen in one episode of the show, his work did not go unnoticed.

“‘Entourage’ was something everyone loved,” Saget said. “That show has struck a nerve in where we’re at in society.”

Saget will again frequent HBO in a special that was shot last Friday at New York University. Set to air at the end of the summer, Saget claimed it will be shocking to audiences, saying it will be similar to his Kent State appearance. But one has to wonder if the man he consistently depicts on stage and on screen is the person he is in real life.

“The thing I’m doing on stage is a bit of a role,” Saget said. “It’s a character; it’s me doing the guy from ‘Entourage.’ You know, I’m walking out, and someone yells out, ‘Yo, Saget,’ I’m like, ‘Shut up, bitch.’ That’s how I talk to the guys. It’s the most fun I’ve had in my whole life as a performer, and I’ve been doing standup for 30 years. To be able to have a relationship that I have with my audiences . You’ll hear a performer go, ‘Oh, I love my public. They’re the fans that kept me alive,’ and you’re like ‘yeah, right.’ I have it; I really have it, and I feel very close to the audience.”

Saget said he was looking forward to his Kent State appearance. He added that he was going to come to campus a few years ago, but something happened where he couldn’t perform.

“I’ve performed my whole life in Cleveland,” he said. “I started at the Cleveland Comedy Club. I’ve been wanting to play your school for a while, actually. People want to go there because it’s a progressive, interesting school. Akron, we don’t have to talk about them. Toledo, there’s got to be a reason for it, I just can’t think of it right now.”

Saget said he’d like to get to the point where he can do anything he wants, whether it be raw, crude humor, or family-oriented material. What he does next is anyone’s guess.

“I’m looking to do something that reaches a lot of people,” he said. “A lot of good things are happening for me right now. I’ve got a lot of new writing to do, and I might take some time off and do some acting and directing. Or, I’ll go to Bali and become a woman, and come back and become a man again. What I want to do is sink my teeth and testicles into the same area at the same time.”

Contact on-campus entertainment reporter Joe Shearer at [email protected].