"If there are a lot of jokes out there or people making fun of
us, they're making fun of a TV series that is now part of television
history, ran for eight years and made everybody really famous and is
still syndicated in over 100 countries. So I don't know what the joke is
there other than, "Gee, that show is extremely successful."
– Dave Coulier
Guy MacPherson: How are you? Thanks for calling.
Dave Coulier: Usually when I'm up in Canada, g-u-y spells Ghee. What's going on there?
GM: You're usually in Montreal, I'd say.
DC: No, no. I have some family in Montreal. My mom's from Bathurst, New Brunswick.
GM: You know what? I was going to ask you why is it I always think you're Canadian? But you're not.
DC: Probably because I wore a Wings jersey on Full House, I play a lot of hockey, a lot of charity games in Canada...
GM: And you had a mullet.
DC: I had a mullet. Absolutely. I had a mullet for a long time. What people don't realize is they just trim your hair with your hockey helmet on.
GM: Oh, is that how it works?
DC: Yeah. But that's probably why. You know, and my name sounds French.
GM: Exactly. And now I find out you have family in Canada, so you're part Canadian.
DC: Yeah, and St. John, New Brunswick.
GM: Because you know Canadians always like to point to the Canadian on TV and go, "Hey! That guy's Canadian!"
DC: (laughs) Yes.
GM: That's what we do. I have to ask you – editor's request – since you're a big hockey fan, if you have an early pick for the Stanley Cup?
DC: Oh, boy. You know, I think there's three teams that could do it this year. I think Ottawa, and I think if the Ducks get strong again and get Niedermeyer back and Selanne, I think they'll have a good run at it, and if Detroit can stay healthy I think they've got a good chance, too. They've got Zederburgh and Datsuk that are just becoming superstars. If those guys can come up big in the playoffs... It's all about the playoffs. It's 82 games of let's skate around and make some money, and then the playoffs. But those would be my three picks right now.
GM: And you're a Wings guy, right?
DC: Yes. Years ago the Red Wings made me the honorary captain of the team for the 75th anniversary of the NHL. That was their first mistake.
GM: Is it just because you grew up so close to the Canadian border that you're such a hockey fan? There aren't that many American hockey fans, are there?
DC: Oh, sure. Detroit's a hockey town. And that's where I'm from originally. We live, breathe, eat and die Red Wings in Detroit. Hockey's huge there, even when I was growing up, before there were 30 teams in the NHL, it was Red Wings and Gordie Howe. I actually went to Gordie Howe's hockey school in Gordie Howe Hockey Land and Gordie Howe taught the hockey school.
GM: Wow. So you were taught by Gordie Howe.
DC: Well, I wasn't really taught by Gordie Howe. But I was one 60 kids who attended his hockey camp! (laughs)
GM: But you can say you were taught by Gordie Howe.
DC: But I later became friends with Gordie. It was really funny when I had my charity hockey game in Detroit, I became friends with Gordie Howe, my hero growing up. It was just such a surreal experience.
GM: One of the perks of being a celebrity.
DC: Oh, yeah, I have to pinch myself every day. It's kinda silly.
GM: Is it more nerve-wracking or exciting to meet an athlete you had admired growing up than it is to meet a big contemporary movie star?
DC: It's very funny because we talk about this once in a while that athletes love people in entertainment and entertainment people love athletes. So there's this kind of mutual admiration society. I really respect athletes and what they can do. It's all entertainment when you really boil it all down. Growing up in Detroit, I've always really admired pro hockey players for the level of skill that they have.
GM: You play hockey. Were you close to playing somewhere?
DC: Oh God, no. I played junior in Detroit. The closest I ever came to the association was my defence partner in high school, Notre Dame High School in Detroit, was John Blum, who played for the Oilers and the Boston Bruins. So he went on to become a pro hockey player. One of the few Americans at the time. I just pretty much gave him the puck all the time.
"I think [Saget]'s really almost gone too far. I've told Bob this.
It almost seems like you're trying to be filthy on purpose
just to distance yourself. My feeling is we've got this huge
audience out there around the world, why would you want to
alienate all those people? But he's always been that way."
– Dave Coulier
GM: You've been a standup for a long time. Is that how you landed Full House?
DC: Not particularly. Everybody in town here it seems was reading for that character because he was supposed to be a comedian. So every comedian was going in there. I just went in on an audition and auditioned. After I finished, they said, "Can you also read for the role of the father?" And I said, "Yeah, sure." So I read for the role of the father and they said thank you very much,
then I went home and my manager called and said, "You got this pilot for some show called Full House." At that time, we taped the pilot episode with a different father, other than Bob Saget. So we shot the entire pilot with this other guy playing the dad. Bob was in New York doing the CBS morning program and he got fired, actually. So the creator of the show, Jeff Franklin, said, "I want you guys to screen test with Saget." And I had already been friends with Bob for years and years. It was just so strange because there we were auditioning together for this pilot that was already picked up. And ABC saw our screen test together and they fired the other guy and hired Bob. Then we had to go back and record all the scenes that the other father was in and
we plugged Bob in. So it was very, very strange. A very strange start to the series.
GM: What became of the other guy?
DC: Well, occasionally I see him doing a commercial here and there. That had to be kind of tough.
GM: You talk about how every comic in town was trying to get on that show. It became a huge hit but also the butt of a lot of jokes. Maybe they were relieved, but you had this great long run on it. Did it ever get to you? It was such a wholesome show.
DC: I don't have a problem with that at all. I think the compliments far outweigh the butt of any jokes. If there are a lot of jokes out there or people making fun of us, they're making fun of a TV series that is now part of television history, ran for eight years and made everybody really famous and is still syndicated in over 100 countries. So I don't know what the joke is there other than, "Gee, that show is extremely successful."
GM: Just that it was so squeaky clean.
DC: Well, I don't have a problem with squeaky clean. I've been doing that for 30 years. When you look at media today, there should be more shows like Full House on the air because there's really no place for me as a dad to sit down with my teenager and watch. There's not much. A lot of parents say to me, "How come there aren't more shows like Full House on?" And I tell them there are. It's called Full House. Are you a parent? Do you have kids?
GM: Yeah, I have a 3-year-old.
DC: You'll see. Is it a boy or a girl?
GM: A boy.
DC: Yeah, you'll see in a few more years when he's really watching a lot of television and looking at media. You'll become hyper-aware of what he's watching just like I did when my son started getting older. Suddenly Full House becomes a very appealing thing for a parent.
GM: I can imagine. I've even grown to respect Barney.
GM: And one of my favourite shows is Cold Case Files on A&E, but I won't watch it if he's in the room with me. I don't want him being exposed to all that misery.
GM: Bob Saget emerged from the show at the other end of the spectrum: filthy. You remain clean. Were you a clean comic prior to doing the show?
DC: Yeah. I grew up in the era where Johnny Carson hosted The Tonight Show and in order to get on the Tonight Show, you had to be clean. Bob's very capable of working clean, but he always was kind of R-rated and had this kind of aw-shucks-good-guy kind of repartee with the audience, and he would come up with these really shocking lines. It was very funny the way he did it. Now I think that he's trying to distance himself from Full House and America's Funniest Home Videos and I think he's really almost gone too far. I don't know if you've seen his HBO special. I've told Bob this. It almost seems like you're trying to be filthy on purpose just to distance yourself. My feeling is we've got this huge audience out there around the world, why would you want to alienate all those people? But he's always been that way.
GM: I guess he figures that the kids who watched it have now grown up so they would appreciate it more.
DC: Yeah. I just think Bob's capable of being a lot more funny than the way he is on stage right now. I think it's a little bit over the top as far as "I'm gonna show everybody that I'm not that wholesome guy and I'm not that straight host from America's Funniest Home Videos."
GM: He really hits you over the head with it.
DC: It really does. It really does hit you pretty hard. Every radio interview and every media interview I do this subject comes up and they're like, "Well, what's your take on that?" And I'm like, "Look, Bob can say whatever he wants to say on stage. If he thinks that works for him, it's his choice to have that freedom of expression up there. But you wouldn't catch me dead saying some of that stuff!" (laughs)
GM: But sometimes you just want to, don't you? Just let it out?
DC: Well, you know, that's what hockey's for. And that's what a locker room's for. There's locker room talk. That's the time and the place for it, but not as a profession, you know?
GM: Do you still get along with each other?
DC: Oh, great. Oh, yeah, I stood up in Bob's wedding. Yeah, we've been friends for a long, long time. It's just that we have two different philosophies with the way we work. Just different strokes for different folks.
GM: When did you get the idea for Clean Guys?
DC: I started talking to Richard Rosenblat, who is the former chairman of MySpace. He's a good friend of mine. We had an internet business before together. And I started talking to him and I said, "You've got kids and I've got kids. There's all this content on the internet but in order to navigate to the clean stuff, you've got to filter through a lot of raunchy material. What about taking all the clean stuff from those websites and putting it under one roof?" He goes, "If you could pull that off that would be one of the best internet properties around." That was about a year ago. We're just starting to ramp everything up for our first round of funding. We're going to build social networking and things will be filtered. And we'll be adhering to COPANKRU. If you have any kids on your site and you're doing any kind of commerce, you have to adhere to those guidelines. So many people say "Why aren't there shows like Full House anymore?" and I thought it would be great to create that kind of atmosphere on the internet because it just doesn't exist and parents are really leery of all the images on the internet and the raunchy content. And I thought I could be the guy who could create that and draw all those kids around the world because of Full House and pull them into the fold here and say, "Hey, look, we're creating a place where you don't have to worry." It's like a Full House episode. You don't have to worry that your kids are going to see something horrific. Cleanguys.tv is the website and we just started our MySpace page and we're pulling people in. We get a lot of people from Canada.
GM: We're a wholesome nation.
DC: (laughs) Not in Windsor! (laughs)
GM: You have a lot of stand-up on the site. I'm wondering what constitutes clean. Because you could see a whole set with no swearing and yet it still wouldn't be appropriate for a child.
DC: We're going to be doing the Clean Guys of Comedy stand-up tour. That's going to be a stand-up tour that you can bring your kids to. There are probably some subjects that are maybe a little bit lofty for kids but they're not going to hear anything drug-related or alcohol-related or overtly sexual. It's basically me saying, "Would I bring my kid to this show?" You know, that's a parent's call. But we're going to be doing matinee shows and people will bring their kids.
GM: Will that cause a distraction? You know how kids can be.
DC: No, we're all pros. We've had so many different instances of hecklers or people being loud. Kids are going to be a little fidgety, especially the really little ones. My experience has been that they just love it. And parents love the fact that they can go to a show with their kids and laugh.
GM: Occasionally I will see a kid at a stand-up show and I wonder, "What are their parents thinking?"
DC: Oh, I know. I have kids come to my shows and the opening act is filthy. I kind of have a deal now with all the clubs and venues that I play. If they swear at all, I just don't want them opening the show. I'd rather just do an hour-and-a-half myself. There's probably 50 comedians that I know that are really funny and can work clean. We're going to be doing this tour and we want to franchise out Clean Guys. We'd love to have a Clean Guys show in Vegas. We'd love to have a Clean Guys show in Reno. And different hotels and casinos so you have an alternative. Because I think the perception that a lot of people have is, "I'm a little leery of going to a comedy club because if I'm going to be sitting there with my mom or my sister, I'm going to be really uncomfortable if the guy's sitting there making genital jokes for 20 minutes."
GM: It's a funny dynamic, isn't it? Because you may think it's funny, but your laughter will signal something to the other person, and you wonder how they're going to react.
DC: Sure. It's uncomfortable laughter, which is easy to do. It's more difficult to do an hour of clean stand-up than it is to go up there and swear for an hour.
GM: It's a great idea for a tour because these days everything is compartmentalized. All these tours that are out there now. Who are your heroes in clean comedy?
DC: Bill Cosby. I think he's really kind of a guy that I remember listening to with my parents thinking, "Oh, my gosh, this is really funny." And seeing my dad crack up. And there was not even a hint of swearing. I grew up Catholic and I was always afraid that my mom was going to be sitting in the front row. So I was always like, "I'm working clean!" I'd be embarrassed.
GM: Was it ever a stigma for you when you were starting out?
DC: That I was clean?
GM: Yeah. Did people notice?
DC: No. I could just work anywhere. A lot of younger comedians, when I'm speaking with them, they'll say, "Hey, what did you think of my set?" And I'll say, "Honestly? Can you work totally clean? Because if I'm a booker for a college or a corporate event, you're not getting hired. So why wouldn't you just work clean and be able to work anywhere?" But there's this perception that if you're dirty it's really hip and you're edgy. And I'm looking at these guys that come from the suburbs and I'm like, "Why are you so edgy? What kind of chip do you have on your shoulder?!" (laughs) "You grew up in this affluent lifestyle and you're all bitter? I don't buy it."
GM: Is profanity just a crutch or is it a legitimate choice?
DC: I think if you have a viewpoint and it really comes from somewhere, then I think it's fine. I'm not a prude, believe me. There's a time and a place. But on stage you don't know who's in the audience. If you have a point of view, like Richard Pryor or George Carlin or Chris Rock, that comes from someplace that's real. And you can feel that and sense that as an audience member, so you do laugh at that stuff. Because you realize that it's very guttural and it's an intrinsic part of that person's personality. But if you're just a guy up there, I can tell right away. "Hey, buddy, you're throwing f-bombs around and it's not funny. If I look at the joke without that, you're not getting a laugh." Like I said, I'm not a prude, I love comedians, but just for me, it's my personal choice.
GM: To thine own self be true. Just don't pretend to be someone you're not, is that what you're saying?
DC: That's my choice. I think there's a real backlash right now of parents who are kind of fed up. You know, Disney's not really Disney anymore. I look at the TV series that they have and I'm thinking, "If I had a teenage daughter, I'm not letting her out of the house dressed like that." So I think the parents are really fed up. There's so much media and kids are exposed to so much content and it's immediate, with your cell phone or IM'ing on the internet or chatting in chat rooms, and MySpace pages and websites. It's pretty instantaneous and you're barraged. If you look at billboards when you drive around the city here in the U.S., you're looking at billboards that are promoting strip clubs. And you've got to drive past that with your kids on the way to school. And you just think enough is enough. When is somebody going to take charge and say that's enough?
GM: Should we equate Clean Guys with the religious right?
DC: No. There's no religious connotation whatsoever. I think you lose a lot of people whenever you do that.
GM: But is there?
DC: No, no.
GM: I know a Christian comic who prefers to be referred to as a clean comic because of the negative connotation.
DC: Well, yeah, I think it can be a negative. Full House didn't say, "Hey, we're a religious show." We just said this is good, clean entertainment. And when you boil it down, that's all I'm trying to do. I realize I'm a comedian; I'm not a brain surgeon. My job is to make people feel a little bit better for an hour and forget their troubles and laugh and walk away saying, "Wow, that was fun." I'm not trying to carry the banner for clean comedy. I have no axe to grind. It's just, "Look, this is my choice and this is what I do. You can do whatever you want." (laughs) I choose to do this because it's a good thing for me to be doing.
GM: I saw the interview with you on Fox news, which is a conservative, right wing station. So I was wondering if there was a connection. But they can trumpet you without you believing what they believe, right?
DC: Yeah. Media outlets are all different flavours and all different sizes and shapes and different attitudes. They contacted me and said, "We love what you're doing. Would you come on our Fox news program?" And I said, "Of course I will." There was no second thought of, "Hmm, it's Fox. Maybe I shouldn't be doing this."
GM: They obviously will like what you're doing, but it's a mistake to think political conservatives have a monopoly on clean humour.
DC: There's a lot of Jewish people I know that love this as well. They're not part of the religious right. But there are a lot of friends I have that are Jewish and they're like, "Man, what a great idea. I've got grandkids or kids and this is really great what you're doing." So you hear that enough times and you think it doesn't take Einstein to figure this one out.
GM: Bob Newhart's favourite comic was Richard Pryor.
DC: And Bob worked totally clean.
GM: Are there comics like that that you really like?
DC: I love Pryor's honesty. I love that someone can be that naked on stage. Because he was so stripped down to his core and wasn't afraid to expose that, to me it made it even funnier, thinking, "Wow, this is real. This guy's not making this up. This has really happened to him." I got to see Pryor work out his Live on Sunset Strip concert at the Comedy Store. So I got to watch him night after night after night and I've never seen anything since that's been that brilliant.
GM: Every night?
DC: Every night. He worked for about, I think, eight weeks in a row. Every single night.
GM: And he was brilliant every night?
DC: No. When he first went up, he went up with nothing. He went up with just some ideas in his head. And he would get introduced and the audience would go absolutely berserk. He'd go up there and 20 minutes into it you'd go, "Ooh, boy, he's in trouble." And you would see him just die. Then the next week you'd see a little spark of brilliance. And he would just kind of keep filling those layers in a week at a time. And by week 4, you're like, "Wow! This is impressive." He wasn't afraid. A lot of comedians would never do that. I don't know any who just would go up just completely naked like that with no material and just think, "Okay, I'm brilliant and eventually that brilliance is going to come to the surface." (laughs) I mean, it took a lot of guts. I've never seen anything like that.
"I'll never admit that that song is about me. I mean, the guy in
that song is a real jerk."
– Dave Coulier
GM: How do you come up with your material?
DC: I just kinda keep my ears and eyes open and just kinda collect things as I go. Then there are certain staples that I do. You know, voices and characters and music. I've always been very eclectic. I kinda jump around from subject to subject and do lots of different things up there. I've always seen stand-up as a way to just communicate in a lot of different ways. You can be funny with something physical or something musical or something with a voice or an impression.
GM: One thing I hear from a lot of stand-ups is no matter how much fame they get, they always stay with stand-up.
DC: Yeah, I talked to Jay Leno about that. We did a benefit for another comedian named Charlie Hill who was having medical problems and was having a hard time financially because of it. So me and George Lopez and Jay Leno and Bobcat Goldthwait and a couple other guys did a comedy concert to raise money for Charlie. And I was talking to Jay. And he was like, [doing Leno's voice] "So, Coulier, you still out there, huh?" I was like, "Yeah." He goes, "Do you just love it?" And I was like, "Yeah!" He goes, "Do people ask you all the time why are you out here playing this little comedy club out here in Podunk?" I'm like, "Yeah, I get questions about that all the time." And he says, "Well, what do you say?" And I said, "Well, it's still fun." He goes, "It is still fun, isn't it?" And I said, "Yeah." I said, "Why do you do 200 dates a year?" He said, "Same reason. It's fun." And I always said when this is no longer something fun to do, I'm gonna stop. And it's been 30 years.
GM: Thirty years.
DC: Yeah, I started when I was a teenager in Detroit.
GM: You've seen a lot of changes over the years, I imagine.
DC: Yeah, comedy's changed a lot, I'll tell you that.
GM: For the worse?
DC: Um... for the better, too. You know, you've got these comedy festivals, like Montreal and Aspen. It really promotes the artistry of stand-up. I think that is a really good thing. The bad thing is that with cable television, it's really given an outlet to the B-team of comics. You know, the guys who have 15 minutes and that's it. And they stretch that into 22 minutes, which becomes a half hour for a special. But hey, the good part is also that there's a slice of the pie for everybody. The pie for comedians has gotten a lot larger. Clean Guys in a year will be doing concerts all over the place.
GM: With different comics, I guess?
DC: Yeah, a Clean Guys 1, a Clean Guys 2. We'll be videotaping all these shows and producing DVDs.
GM: It'll be like the Harlem Globetrotters with these different teams.
DC: (laughs) It will be!
GM: Are you constantly asked about You Oughta Know or is that old news?
DC: Oh, that's really old news.
GM: I know the song's old, but it's a great song.
DC: It is a great song. I will always care about Alanis. I mean, she's one of the best people I've ever met. And I'll never admit that that song is about me. I mean, the guy in that song is a real jerk.
GM: You'll never admit it? Do you even know for sure?
DC: You know, I called her when the press was calling me saying, "Are you the guy in this song?" And I called her up and I said, "What do you want me to say?" And she said, "You can say whatever you want." And I said, "Well, a lot of the stuff in Jagged Little Pill hits really close to home." Because she was writing a lot of that stuff when we were dating. I mean, that's 15 years ago now. But she's lovely. That's really all I have to say about it. You know, that song is very angry and I think she was working through a lot of pain and being a struggling artist. Talk about scraping all the layers away and exposing who you really are and what you're really all about. I mean, she does it better than anybody.
GM: And even if it is you, it's kind of flattering to be in such a great song.
DC: Yeah, I guess. I don't know what that thing about the theatre is, though. That never happened. (laughs)
GM: That's artistic license, I guess.
DC: I think so.