If you’ve never caught his notoriously filthy scene-stealing bit in the 2005 comedy doco The Aristocrats or his persona-skewering cameos in Entourage, you might still think that Bob Saget’s actually Danny Tanner, the dweeby clean-freak he played for eight years on the beloved ’90s sitcom, Full House. Boy, are you in for a shock, you Danny Tanner fiend — the guy’s got 30-odd years of “working blue” (to put it in comedy parlance) in dingy clubs the world over, telling more stories about faeces and genitalia than you’d hear at a midwives’ convention.
Saget’s highlighted his life in comedy in a new stream-of-consciousness memoir titled Dirty Daddy: The Chronicles Of A Family Man Turned Filthy Comedian, which he describes quite aptly as “a book about death, comedy, my testicles, and how they all intersect.” We spoke to the comedian on the phone ahead of his ‘Dirty Daddy’ tour, which kicks off in Brisbane this Wednesday. Lock up your daughters, Brisbane.
Junkee: Hi Bob. So I tried the drinking game that you recommend in the early pages of your book Dirty Daddy (i.e.: have a drink every time dicks are mentioned)… and I nearly died. There’s definitely a lot of penis references in there.
Bob Saget: Oh my god, there are a lot of dick jokes. I’m sorry.
You mention that this gift was passed on to you by your father.
Yeah, he just couldn’t stop. He had one he always did when he was reading the menu in a restaurant, and he’d say, “Tonight’s specials are cake and cock… and they’re all outta cake!”
Ah, a classic. How old were you when he was sharing these jokes?
He was doing them when I was too young. I should’ve been a bit older. But he would do other weird stuff, like he’d take an eggplant, wrap it in a towel, and then put it under the covers of my bed. So I’d get home and there’d be an eggplant in my bed, with a note that said “Bob. I waited up for you.”
That’s very weird. Did you find it funny?
I was afraid. Always fear (laughs). ‘Cause he’d be in his room down the hall and I knew he’d hear me come in, so all I could imagine was him smirking in bed. He’d never follow up on it, though; great commitment to the joke. He was a great dad, such a great dad… and my mum was a great dad, also.
Did she join in on the dick jokes?
No, she hated them. She was always like, “I don’t know why you have to do this dirty stuff, Bobby.” And the more she confided in me, the more I’d wander off into my scatalogical world, ‘cause that’s what happens to a child when you tell them not to do something. I just lost my mum a few months ago, but she came to my last special (That’s What I’m Talking About), and loved it. I was like, “Isn’t it too dirty?”, and she said, “No Bobby, you were great, it doesn’t bother me anymore.” I was like, oh no, I did everything just to piss her off! Now what am I gonna do?
I guess the through-line in the book is that comedy helped you through a lot of the more traumatic events in your life… and geez, you’ve been through a bit. That chapter about your (ex)wife almost dying while giving birth is heartbreaking.
That particular part was significant, I think, because it ends with a weird punchline that made it into The Aristocrats and kind of explains why that sort of humour works for me. It’s those jokes where you say “How can you say that?”, the unmentionables, and that’s kind of a survival tactic. Life is hard, and it hurts so much to see bad things… I think that’s why I prefer to get my news from Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert or John Oliver; your heart hurts enough seeing these things, you need to laugh.
In the book, you speak, uh, fairly reluctantly about your time on Full House. Were you miserable the whole time there?
(laughs) Well, it’s interesting — it was one of the best things that could’ve happened to me, and it was just incredibly confining too. Also, that character was not me in anyway, so I only look back on it with love. It was a real love show, just three guys raising three girls ‘cause they’re mum had died. It’s a fantasy, a Disney kind of show. I don’t know — it doesn’t really mean anything, it’s just a sitcom part, you know?
I don’t know, it’s become a pretty significant pop culture memory for, ahem, people of a certain age.
Oh yeah, definitely.
How come you never had a catchphrase?
Well, Danny did have a catchphrase. It was “What’s going on?”
I don’t remember that.
They never had anything to write for me, so I’d always walk into rooms and just be like, “What’s going on?”
Damn, it’s not exactly “Haaaaaaaaave mercy!”. Did Stamos have groupies on-set?
Oh yeah, he’d have some of the prettiest women you’d ever see on-set. But you know, he really wanted the show to be as good as it could be; he worked hard.
What was your reaction to the internet outrage around the finale of How I Met Your Mother?
I was fine with it. I went to the reading of the script a couple of months before it aired — I knew I wasn’t narrating it, I knew what the story was, and it felt real to me. Some people were upset that Josh Radnor didn’t turn into Bob Saget; it’s not The Matrix. I liked the ending; that’s what happens in life. Still, I’m very excited that Meg Ryan’s the new me.
Who would you say you’re closer to in real life: Danny Tanner or Bob Saget from Entourage?
I don’t know… At a certain time of night, I have walked around the house in a robe, unshaven. I guess those are just two extremes of the same two-dimensional thing, though. Someone else actually just asked me this question, so you know what it seems like to me? I really should’ve done a few more roles (laughs).
Bob Saget: The Dirty Daddy Tour
14 May @ The Tivoli, Brisbane
15 May @ Enmore Theatre, Sydney
16 May @ The Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne
18 May @ Regal Theatre, Perth
For tickets and further information, head to livenation.com.au