How's this for a dichotomy: Bob Saget as an edgy and profane comedian with a 30-year career is most associated with two successful family-friendly network shows.
At least, that's how it used to be.
At 56, the stand-up comic's long-running and still popular family sitcom, Full House, as well as his tenure as original host of America's Funniest Home Videos are more than 15 years behind him. These days, Saget's colorful and frequent use of profanity is no longer the dirty little secret it used to be through his comedy specials and a documentary appearance with other comics telling the world's filthiest joke.
Yet shock value is not what he's really about, either.
"I had all these side roads that happened in my career," Saget said in a recent phone interview to promote his two Saturday night shows at Connxtions Comedy Club. "I acted in a few things, and then ended up changing a little bit: I morphed into a 9-year-old boy stomping his feet going, 'Hey, I'm not that guy.' I didn't do it intentionally, it was just like an artist's reaction to his audience. I think I pushed my limits a little bit.
"The last special that I did for HBO five years ago you could do an f-bomb drinking game on it and be really hammered. That was for a college audience at NYU. But it's interesting that I'm not finding myself as blue. I mean I definitely am, but I'm a soft R. I'm a 15-year-old boy's favorite type of humor ... I'm not very mature."
Saget was always a comic who pushed the boundaries of audience comfort level with dark, edgy jokes that spoke as much about what he was thinking as it did his coping mechanisms to an upbringing that was anything but the shiny sitcom world for which he would later be known.
"I have a brain of a German shepherd and the body of a 16-year-old boy and they're both in my car and I want you to see them," he joked to audiences while a young stand-up in the early 1980s.
"It was esoteric riffing and had dark humor to it. I always had irreverent, weird jokes that were in poor taste -- and they're still in poor taste today," he said. "My humor was kind of from my dad and all the stuff that we went through, which was a lot of death. My humor was an escape."
While he hasn't changed as a comic, TV provided an image change for him by broadcasting his fictional sitcom identity into millions of living rooms as part of ABC's powerhouse TGIF lineup. And now, much to his consternation, Saget remains the good-natured single father Danny Tanner on Full House to many fans.
"I don't understand how people think that's who the person is. Normally when a person does a sitcom for nine years and they play a really, really nice person, odds are that they are not a nice person," he said. "I'm a nice person who can be a bit grumbly sometimes. I do own a Dustbuster, but I don't walk around the house hugging people in a cardigan sweater. I did a kids show and it is one that will stay forever. It has a Brady feel to it and it's still on Nick at Nite and people love it and kids find it."
In that respect, maybe his bit in the documentary The Aristocrats was a cry for help, allowing him to confront his family-friendly image in a shockingly profane, utterly brilliant, and for those who buy into the Saget-as-Tanner-for-life persona, career-freeing appearance.
Lewis Black, Drew Carey, George Carlin, Lisa Lampanelli, Bill Maher, Kevin Pollak, Robin Williams, Chris Rock, and Don Rickles are among many comics who make appearances, yet the star of the film is Saget's XXX riff.
"That really did take the veil off of the beekeeper's head," he said. "I didn't expect anybody to see it. I watched it in a room with my manager at the time and we were like, 'I don't know if we should sign the release. I mean this is just terrible what I did.' And Penn Jillette and Paul Provenza, the directors, were like egging me on off camera and they cut out them going, 'Come on, Bob, just do it,' because I couldn't have done it without being coached through it. It wasn't sheer delight in being disgusting. Audiences don't ask me to go that dark and it doesn't really work. The whole point of that movie, George Carlin stated very, very clearly, 'We're behind the building right now, nobody's here, it's just us, and this is the grossest thing you can do to make your peers laugh.' It's not meant to be a funny joke as it is everything you're not supposed to say. What are the worst things that happen to mankind, here's a joke about them."
The "art piece about censorship," as Saget describes it, was a critical hit and his success in the film caused publications such as Newsweek and the New York Observer to recast him with "Oh, here's the real Bob" pieces. An extended nearly 12-minute clip of his The Aristocrats performance has more than a million views on YouTube. And now, oddly enough, Saget's dealing with a new form of typecast as a shock comic.
"My do-over is 20 years old already and it's kind of like now I'm trying to go, 'Hey, I'm not as dirty as they think I am.' The audiences know, so they're not expected to be shocked. And even in the set that I'm doing now it has Full House references, but it's not meant to be, 'Oh, my God, I can't believe he said that.' I would say 70 percent of comedians are filthier than me. It's kind of weird."
Bob Saget performs at 8 and 10:30 p.m. Saturday at Connxtions Comedy Club, 5319 Heatherdowns. Tickets are $29.95. For more information, call 419-867-9041 or visit connxtionscomedyclub.com.
Contact Kirk Baird at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6734.