"The in-your-pants comedy, I just do it because I find it funny like a nine-year-old, you know? I'm just immature."
– Bob Saget
Bob Saget: It's been a crazy time. I just came from editing so I apologize.
Guy MacPherson: What are you editing?
BS: I'm editing a movie which comes out in May. It's called Farce of the Penguins. It's an out-and-out R-rated parody of March of the Penguins.
GM: Animated or real penguins?
BS: It is real penguins. We have a hundred hours of documentary penguin footage from New Zealand, from all over the world, that we're licencing. And we've been editing for months now. It's a huge amount of work. I wrote the script, I'm producing it and my other friend that's producing it is David Permut, who produced Face/Off and Richard Pryor's movie [Critical Condition] and Eddie Griffin's movies [Double Take, DysFunktional Family]. He's produced a ton of movies. And Th!nkFilm is making it, who did The Aristocrats. I'm very excited about it. It's a huge amount of work. I'm just sitting there watching penguins curse and smack the hell out of each other.
GM: Penguins curse, do they?
BS: Penguins curse and it's R-rated. The dialogue is very grown up. We're casting it right now. I'll have some great names for you soon, but I can't tell yet because we're still just in the middle of making our deals with the people that'll be doing the voices.
GM: So it's not a fake documentary...
BS: It's a love story. (laughs) It parodies the documentary form, most prominently the one that's so well known. So it covers a lot of the jokes that you'd come up with, not unlike Scary Movie. You want to hit the bullet points of what people know the most from that movie. It's got narration like Morgan Freeman's, but it's different obviously.
GM: I heard you talk briefly about it on Conan the other night.
BS: It's real. That's the funniest part, is it's real. That's like the weird part.
GM: And it's coming out in May?
BS: In May. We are working our asses off. I have night time editors. I have people working around the clock. I just walked out of the editing room. And any time you go and look at something, it's like, "Oh my God, we gotta go back in and redo that whole section." We have a screening in mid-March. We'll have, like, a college audience and then we'll do a test screening and do a couple more if we can – maybe just one more – and then May would be the release.
GM: That's great.
BS: It's pretty wild. And I'm writing this show for HBO. I'm meeting with them tomorrow. I've been writing this show for a while and we're just moving forward with that. I'm a gynecologist in it.
GM: This will be your show?
BS: My show. I'm a writer, producer, star, all that crap. It's kind of an R-rated Courtship of Eddie's Father.
GM: I loved that show.
BS: I did, too. I loved it. I did a play in New York in March that Paul Weitz wrote, who wrote In Good Company and About a Boy, and a lot of his themes are father/son things. So this play that I did was called Privilege. It was about a guy who was accused of Insider Trading and how his sons dealt with it. I had two sons, and the younger one is the one I'm thinking of for the show. He's 14. A very special kid. Real good actor. So it would be myself, my son, and a gynecological practice where I've got women coming in and out (chuckles), no pun intended. So we'll see what happens with that. So I'm busy.
GM: You are.
BS: And my dog is not well, so I'm taking him for radiation. He has two more treatments. So that's what I'm... I'm driving now with my King Charles Spaniel on the floor of my car. It's a busy life. And my daughters had the flu this morning, so I have to get home right away so I can give them their chicken soup.
GM: I'll try not to keep you too long.
BS: Oh, no, no. I'm stuck on a freeway. If I lose you, I'll call you back. It's perfect timing.
GM: By the way, I thought The Courtship of Eddie's Father's theme song is one of the most under-rated theme songs.
BS: It's funny. I was listening to the radio the other day, which I don't do that often because I listen to CD's and stuff, and it was Harry Nilsson singing "I can't live if livin' is without you". And that's one of those songs that's still really well produced. It doesn't sound as dated as other music. He was just a really special talent. And that song also is one of the better TV theme songs ever. I don't think we'll be quite as bouncy. Since I'm a gynecologist, I don't think we're going to be light and fluffy. But I'm excited to deal with parenting themes in more of a way of how I deal with them, which is not to say it's hardcore but when you're really a parent in today's world, you're not living the life of sitcom parenting. It's ridiculous.
GM: How long were you on Full House?
BS: Eight years.
GM: Which came first: America's Funniest Home Videos or Full House?
BS: Full House came first. We did a half a season of it and ABC offered me... I saw this tape of people getting hit in the nuts, this twenty-minute tape of really funny nut shots and some cats getting pulled off of things and I said this is funny. And I hosted the pilot. It was not even supposed to be a pilot; it was supposed to be a special and ended up beating 60 Minutes in a rerun so they went, "Oh my God, we've got a hit." So they just put it on.
GM: I was a big fan of yours before those shows, but only from various TV appearances.
BS: Wow, you're the one.
GM: I'd see you with your guitar doing standup.
BS: Standup is a really interesting animal. It's not like anything else. Everything I've done in my career, I always tried to get other stuff going, I would always try to be directing movies. And then that wouldn't happen the way I wanted. Like Dirty Work didn't perform the way I wanted, so I was put in director jail for years. You get to direct stuff, but an episode of television isn't like directing. It is directing but it's more of a mechanic job and a serviceman job, and making a movie it's your baby. So standup is a chance in that hour, nobody can say to you, "Oh, I wish you hadn't done that." The only person that can say that is your audience. You're the artist. Not unlike a lot of other things, there's a craft to it, but it's also... When I'm doing it right, it's like surfing. I don't know what the hell I'm going to do. It's so much fun. I've been doing standup more the past few years and last year it started to really kick in, where I felt really engaged in what I'm doing and the audience is right there in a way that I've never had them there, to be there for what I do now. Which we still don't know what that is.
GM: I saw you at Yuk Yuk's a year or two ago.
GM: Your act seems so stream of consciousness. I don't know if it really is. How much of your act is written or the same from show to show, and how much is just whatever pops into your head?
BS: I think it's more the same than people think it is. But from where I was, I guess that was maybe a year or two ago at Yuk Yuk's, a lot of the main pieces will be the same but it'll seem different because I'm just going through a different thing. Because wherever I'm at, that kinda changes the whole theme of everything I do. So that does change show to show. Is that casino a nice place that I'm coming to?
GM: It's like you're in Vegas.
BS: I've heard it's really nice. I've been hearing that from my friends, that this is a really fun gig. So I'll go in and do that. My standup has been doing really well, which makes me really happy. Selling hard tickets is not always the easiest thing to do when you're a performer.
GM: Doing what?
BS: Selling a hard ticket, you know? Selling actual tickets ahead of time and all that. And when I end up coming to places, by the time the date happens I'm sold out now. I'm doing some gig at the University of Connecticut. It's a couple of thousand seats. I always did well in clubs but I never sold out a couple thousand seats so easily. It's a lot of fun.
GM: Now that The Aristocrats has come out and people have seen more of the dark side of Bob Saget...
BS: It couldn't get much darker, I don't think.
GM: So now when you perform your standup, are they expecting more of that type of material? Do you walk as many customers as maybe you did in the past? Although I don't know if you did.
BS: I never walked anybody. Actually, in my whole career, in my whole thirty years of standup, maybe four people walked out. I can't even remember. I've seen people walk out because I was on a club list with a lot of other comedians and they'd sat through hours. They're going home because they're exhausted. But when people pay to see me... It's R-rated, The Aristocrats. My standup would be NC-17 in that thing. That's not standup; that's just me sitting in a chair talking filthy in a comedy club late at night because Penn Jillette and Paul Provenza tee'd me up and said, "Hey, come on. We love how dirty you are. Let everyone know."
GM: It's funny, but in the movie you looked like you were embarrassed.
BS: Right. I was.
GM: But you couldn't have been. I've seen your standup.
BS: You know what it is? It's both. And my standup, too. My standup, when you think about it, I'll say terrible things. And my standup does get more hard-driving probably because I hit things hard because you've got to strap on your combat boots when you do standup. And the people that come to see my standup are there to hear that crap. Not crap, but I mean they're there to hear rougher language or rougher themes. My stuff, I kinda do it lightly. The in-your-pants comedy, I just do it because I find it funny like a nine-year-old, you know? I'm just immature. But The Aristocrats, I knew that was going to be seen by people that shouldn't necessarily be seeing it. When you do stuff on screen and it goes out to theatres... I never dreamed that this would happen. None of us did. But when it goes out like this, you do think about... People walked out of that. I have female friends that walked out of The Aristocrats before I got on screen and they went to see me in it. They just couldn't take all the grossness. That's where my apologetic attitude came from. I don't disagree with them, you know? You don't need to tell people about all the fluids that come out of your body or all the different techniques that Andy Dick is really aware of. It's highly gross.
GM: What has the appearance in the movie done for you or your career?
BS: It was kind of a double thing for me. It's funny. I was on camera for 40 minutes total. It took 40 minutes of my life. I sat down; they turned on the cameras. I walked away. I went on stage and did my act. And then I did the thing on Entourage, which I did after I did this. And Entourage is very popular. My appearance on Entourage, before Aristocrats came out, I was in the front page of USA Today. It was like, "How Bob is R-Rated". It was saying, "His standup's R-rated, and The Aristocrats is NC-17", kind of, if they had rated it. But the Entourage show is about L.A. wannabes. And Jeremy Piven, I think he just won a Golden Globe, I don't know. But it's a big show. So I did a guest starring role on it last season that got a lot of notice. And that's where I'm smoking a bong and hanging out with hookers. And all the new stuff I'm working on... I'm not doing many more cameos. I did one for Jamie Kennedy, who's a friend of mine. He's got a new MTV series, so I'm on the pilot of that. But this movie is all I'm putting my time into, and the HBO show.
GM: I spoke to Paul Provenza on Saturday, who's going to be in town the same weekend you're here.
BS: Oh, really?!
GM: He's performing at Lafflines. He was very excited to know that you're going to be in town, too.
BS: I love Paul. He's such a good guy. I'm really happy for him. I've known him for my whole career. I've known him since I was 18 or 19 years old.
GM: That's right. In Pennsylvania.
BS: Yeah, University of Pennsylvania.
GM: Did you start out as a duo?
BS: No... Yeah, I did. I thought you meant with Paul. With a guy named Sam Domski. And Sam is a dentist now, but he still does comedy. And he was one of my best friends and he would do comedy with me. We wrote these two-hour sketches. It was the year Saturday Night Live started. So we would watch Saturday Night Live and then we would try to mirror that at the coffee houses at the University of Pennsylvania. I was not a student at the University of Pennsylvania. I was at Temple and my ex-wife was my girlfriend, so I would go to Penn all the time to see her. It was very adorable.
GM: So you were not doing standup; you were doing sketches with him?
BS: With him I would still do some standup, and then I would do standup outside of that separate from him. I would open for people or I would perform in some of the clubs in Philly. When I was 17 or 18, I would go up to New York and I would go on at the Improv. In fact, the head of HBO, Chris Albrecht, was the manager at the Improv in New York, and that's when I met him. And then years later he became my agent, which is really bizarre.
GM: Whatever happened to the comedy duo? You never see that anymore.
BS: No. It doesn't work a lot of times. There are some that do it. I guess Penn & Teller would be a good example of surviving in that genre.
GM: Yeah, but they do magic, too.
BS: I know. But he's got that Oliver Hardy thing going. But you make a valid point. Actually, remember years ago Nathan Lane was in a comedy duo, Stark & Lane. I watched them in New York. They were very good. There aren't any comedy duos and I think a lot of it has to do with you want to get on a sitcom, you want to make a standup career. It's just the logistics of doing business. It's two airfares, it's two this, two that. I guess Vegas is the place that makes the most sense for a comedy duo.
GM: You must have been sky-high when you were on two network shows at the same time. You must have thought, 'This is the best!'
BS: Two top ten shows. I did. I did think they were the best.
GM: Did that feeling last?
BS: When I first got it, it was a great thing. Can you hold on one second, it's my ex-wife... Oh, I think I lost her. Oh well, it happens. I lost my ex-wife, that's a good one. My dog has prostate cancer. I'm actually watching him do yoga, basically. His leg was up in the air for the entire time we've been talking.
GM: So you were saying how you thought it was great getting these shows.
BS: Yeah, I didn't really appreciate it fully. I was incredibly excited, especially when the video show became number one. Full House I enjoyed being with everybody a lot. Actors complain if they're working or they're not working. They don't realize that you might have a movie career, you might not. For the most part the careers are very fleeting. And they're disappointed because it doesn't pan out the way they thought it would. And a person's on a show that does maybe six episodes. Come on. Rodney Dangerfield was a friend of mine and I went to go visit him and I was doing both shows and they were both in the top ten. And I said, "Rodney, I don't feel like I'm funny on these shows, you know?" And he actually said, "You don't know cock." I said, "Excuse me?" "You don't know cock." I'd never heard that word used as an adverb, I believe. I don't know what he used it as. But it was kinda true because I was crazy fortunate. And people would go, "That wasn't your voice, you weren't doing yourself", you know? It was an actor job. On Full House I wanted to be a good dad. I chose to make him like Felix Unger; I chose to make him a hugger. I got hired as a Richie Cunningham on the show. I needed a job. I wasn't going to say no. I had a new baby and I took the job. It was a job. But it wasn't my voice. This wasn't Roseanne or Seinfeld where Bob gets to be himself. This new show [on HBO] is that. That's what it is; it's me getting to do myself. So people should be afraid! (laughs) But in the video show, that's the one where I did wish I could have input more of what I found funny. But the people that produced the show, and the network, did not find funny what I found funny. So there was nothing I could do about it. What was really funny was the videos. They were really funny. I mean, people getting hit in the crotch and falling down, and animals doing stuff, it's really funny. I'm happy with my stuff personally on the video show maybe five percent of the time where I can watch it and go, "That was okay." I'm doing network TV and it's family night on a Sunday night at 7 or 8, what am I expecting? I can't go out and do anything edgy; it's a blooper show! If you're hosting a blooper or a clip show, you've pretty much made your statement. Marshall McLuhan's big thing is the medium is the message. You're not going to end up being Chris Rock if you're hosting a video show. Because it's a thankless job. If you're a traffic cop going, "Here's some animals!", there's no way to make that brilliant. There's no way on the earth.
GM: Were you still doing standup while you were doing these shows?
BS: Yeah, I always did standup. I stopped a little bit while I was directing more.
GM: Were you as dark and dirty before or during those shows? Or is this a reaction to you being so clean on TV?
BS: I think some of it is a reaction of me being clean on TV. That's part of the fun of it for people because it is blowing up an image. And that will get old, so I'm writing new stuff and coming up with new things that don't make me feel like I'm... Because I'm there to entertain people, not just go, "Hey, look, I'm not clean-cut Danny." That's not how I'm approaching it, you know? I don't go, "Wow, I'm not Danny Tanner; look how filthy I am." I'd be a jackass if I did that. My job is for people to leave really being entertained. That's my job. They should be going home going, "Damn, that was funny. I haven't laughed that hard in a while." That's the biggest compliment I get from people.
GM: You really compound the laughs, too, one after the other.
BS: That's what Rodney always told me. He said you should do it like you're a fighter hitting a body bag. Just go. Give 'em 50 minutes of killer material. Just don't stop. Just keep punching. Don't stop. And that's your job. Pace it up and that'll make the room blow up. Then I do music at the end. I do a couple of comedy songs and some parody stuff, and that's entertaining for people. And I enjoy doing it. And I still do that song that you saw, which is, "Danny Tanner is Not Gay". A very powerful piece of music.
GM: The one I remember from years ago is "A dollar eighty-nine...".
BS: Wow. That's so funny that people like that. I think they like it more now than they did before. I've been actually doing it so long you end up adding new things to it all the time, a song like that. But also everybody can relate to it. If you're out going to a casino, no matter how rich you are, you know what it's like to not have any cash in the house and you go through the house looking for change.
GM: Provenza said the joke isn't that you're dirty now but that you were thought of as clean before.
BS: Who said that?
GM: Paul Provenza.
BS: That's hilarious. That's really funny. Yeah, that's true. People that know me – and you saw Conan the other night, he said, "This is no surprise to people that know you. You haven't changed." It was a part. If Anthony Hopkins is viewed as Hannibal Lecter, he eats people. But he's not that guy. But this is a sitcom with a clean-cut dude with no edginess whatsoever. Everything I did had a rounded edge to it. And the video show was what it was. But two of the writers were Canadian. I blame it on that.
GM: (laughs) Hey!
BS: Credit! I credit it. It was a hit for eight years. They were Todd Thicke, Alan Thicke's brother, and Robert Arnott. Bob Arnott was one of the main writers from Laugh-in back in the day. He did a lot: The Smothers Brothers Show... He's a very good guy.
GM: Are they still with the show?
BS: Todd is. The show is still going. They've got Tom Bergeron, the Hollywood Squares guy. And that's the kind of guy they needed to host it. They did the right thing.
GM: I guess, but I preferred you.
BS: Well, you're really nice. You actually are really nice. I've been hearing that. It's so funny. I got off stage the other night - I've really been having a lot of fun with my standup. It just makes me laugh that people are getting it. It's just such a good feeling that people get it. They get the joke, they get why I'm doing it, they get an idea of who I am for an hour. I get off stage and they go, "You know, you're just great, Bob." And it's like, "Whoa!" I never heard that my whole life, you know? Even when I did the two shows I got a lot of criticism for the video and for Full House. I got a lot of razzing.
GM: I was predisposed to liking you because I was a fan of yours before that. But I know people that would see you and go, "That guy's awful!" And I'd say, "What do you mean? He's hilarious!"
BS: You're a great man. But I also understand why they would think that. Like, I have a friend. I love Dane Cook. I think Dane's really talented. The past seven years in a way I've been doing standup at the Laugh Factory in L.A. and so has Dane. It's kind of my gestation place. It's where I go, try stuff out, and Dane's been doing it, so we're kind of brothers in arms in my comeback, or whatever you call it. You have to call it something because I'm in Rolling Stone. I never was in Rolling Stone [prior to this]. I was in Rolling Stone, I was in Esquire, in GQ twice. Last month they said I was the second-biggest comeback basically next to Clinton. I didn't have that kind of press before. I talked to a friend of mine who told me that, "I don't really like Dane. I don't like it." And I'm like, "Um, I like it. I love Dane." And that's another thing: I already know what he is. I've already bought the premise of what he is so that makes me like him anyway. Some people don't find it funny and that's okay.
GM: I saw Dane Cook here several years ago and liked him. And now because he's so popular, I think, there's always that backlash when people get too popular.
BS: That's what happens.
GM: Now people are going, "He's awful, he's a hack."
BS: They're wrong. He's great. He's wonderful. And they can think what they want. I thought David Letterman did fine on the Oscars. I think it's just silly. People are silly. But they have nothing else to talk about. And they're not out there trying to make people laugh.
GM: Well, some of them are professional comics. And they look down at him because they think he's going for cheap laughs.
BS: Well, they're professionals - and it's wonderful and not a small thing to make a couple hundred people laugh in a club, that's not a small thing and if you spend your life doing that, good for you, you made people laugh – but odds are if you're a comic and you never got to go with a bigger audience, you never got to get on that whatever stage of a career that you'd like to have, odds are you might be embittered. And if you are embittered, you would definitely judge a guy who has mass appeal or sells out. There is a selling off point that different people have. Some do it later in their career and some do it earlier in their career. It took me ten years to get Full House and the video show. It felt like longer than anybody I knew to get a job on TV of consequence. And then when I got it, I was happy to get it and I did the job to the best of my ability and what the parameters of Full House were. You're the dad and you're kind of a straight guy. Plus, I was an actor. Right before that I had done a Richard Pryor movie called Critical Condition and that was my first gig. The producers saw me in it, and I cursed in it and it was R-rated and I had a great part and I got to play with Richard Pryor as one of the first things I ever did. And then I got the Full House job. It was a network sitcom. I'd never had one. I'd worked on Bosom Buddy. I did a guest shot on there. I was a warm-up guy for that show. And then I went and did the video show. And that, in some ways, hurt me more than helped me because nobody takes you seriously as an actor if you're hosting a clip show. I've been getting offers literally... pretty much a lot of game shows, a lot of clip shows. I could be hosting a lot of shows. And I just can't do it. I have work to do now. I love acting. I love directing. I love being a standup. And the standup you can parlay into anything. You could do hosting on a show, you could do a reality show. But you can't do an acting career, you can't act in a movie, you can't really do that when people think of you as the host of... You know, Ryan Seacrest is incredibly successful right now. And crazier things have happened. Greg Kinnear went from hosting into a great acting career. But my path is my path. I don't look at other people and go, "Oh, well they did that and they did that." I know what I don't want to do now. I did it. I did the video thing. The weird part is when they offer you a lot of money. That's always weird, although it's a compliment, to host something you necessarily don't want to do. But the thing I'm most excited about, the thing I like the most is making people laugh in a real visceral way. You can't take that away from a person that can do it. One of two things now I know I'm confident in is that I'm funny. I know it. And if someone doesn't think so, fine. They're entitled to think whatever they want. But if they don't think that, I'll make them laugh. (laughs)
GM: It's taken you this long to realize you're funny?
BS: Yes. But I'm kinda cocky about it now. Cocky about it in that, like an airplane pilot, you want your airplane pilot to know that no way in hell is this plane gonna crash. No way. If people are paying to see me, dammit, I'm going to work really hard to have fun. To have fun and be stupid and just not give a shit and have fun. And make people laugh. Because life's really short. I'm going to be 50 in May, I've got a lot of dead people in my family, I've got a dog with prostate cancer, my dad's 88, I've got three daughters. I could use a woman. Maybe I'll get married when I'm up in Vancouver.
GM: How are your daughters liking the resurgence in your career now that they're a bit older and get it?
BS: They're loving it, actually. My oldest one's in college. My middle one, she's 16, she damaged her car when she wasn't supposed to be where she was with it. She's very lucky. She's got a great life. She gets to go to things other people don't get to go to. She goes to crazy, fun things that other people go, "Oh my God, you got to go to that?! That's so cool!" So she did her car thing which she shouldn't have done and it ended up costing a couple grand. So her mom and I took care of that but then we said, "You gotta pay it back." So she's selling ice cream. She works in an ice cream store. You know, she's a child of privilege and her friends come in and they mock her because they're little spoiled bitches (laughs). So she's selling ice cream. She'll work tomorrow night till ten o'clock on a school night. I used to do it when I was young. There's nothing wrong with that. I worked in a deli. She says things to me like, "Did you know that people have three jobs? They work at Starbucks, they sell ice cream and they work at the library." I'm like, "Uh, yeah." My oldest one got away with a car accident that we paid for. My middle one reminded me. But it's good experience for you. It doesn't matter what you come from, there's nothing wrong with learning a little bit about how the world works rather than just having everything handed to you and living a little prissy life. And she wanted to do it. She's a wonderful kid. She just said, "Yeah, I gotta pay for this. It was wrong."
GM: And as soon as she pays you back, she's quitting the job.
BS: I think she's going to quit before that. (laughs) She also went and made a study guide and sold it on campus. She literally made a study guide and people pay for it. And it's not illegal to do it. It's hilarious.
GM: She's an entrepreneur.
BS: She's an entrepreneur. She'll be producing something for me one day.