Comedian Bob Saget came off as calm and self-composed on the phone last week, with a slight tendency to ramble. He is the same man who regularly makes pedophile jokes on stage in front of semi-intoxicated, giggling audiences.
When most people say Bob Saget, they mean Danny Tanner. There’s more to Saget, though, than the clean, sensitive — and by self-admittance, somewhat fruity — father he played on “Full House.”
Tonight at the Paramount Theatre, Austin residents will have the opportunity to see Saget perform his notoriously racy stand-up routine. The routine is famous for Saget’s interactions with the audience. He often calls out members who are texting or on dates. These rants can be short or last the entire show, the latter of which occurred to “Shawn,” an audience member at a Denver show Nov. 5.
“You’ve got to figure out what drug your audience is on,” Saget said. “You don’t really plan these sort of things out. I just kind of say what pops into my head at the time and see what happens.”
While Saget’s on-your-feet approach may seem daunting to others, it also helps that he’s been doing comedy for a while.
Saget started filming movies when he was only 9 years old. After graduating high school, he attended Temple University for film and performed with some of his buddies in local comedy clubs there. Then he moved out to Los Angeles with the intention of going to graduate school at the University of Southern California. Instead, Saget dropped after a week to work at The Comedy Store, a comedy club in Hollywood.
“It was a cocky move — cocky mainly because I worked in The Comedy Store for free,” Saget said.
But Saget’s cockiness ended up paying off. He met the big comedians of the time, most notably Richard Pryor and Rodney Dangerfield. Saget’s relationship with Dangerfield helped launch his career with a breakout comedy special, HBO’s “That Ain’t Right.”
Dangerfield also functioned as a mentor to Saget, giving him words of encouragement during the rough stages of Saget’s career.
“The worst show I ever performed I was put in a headlock,” Saget recounted. “The guy was pretty drunk, but I managed to goose him with the mic. I just remember thinking it wasn’t all that funny. In fact, I remember looking at the audience and realizing nobody helped me. That was way back in the early days though.”
After touring for a while, Saget landed a gig as a morning co-host for “The Morning Program,” an early morning television show that competed with “The Today Show.” According to Saget, he was the “young blood” but was let go after the show suffered poor ratings. He was soon approached with offers to do “Full House” and eventually “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”
Saget accepted the offers, and both shows brought mainstream success to Saget’s career. His stand-up comedy took a backseat to his wholesome prime-time television image because he felt it was not plausible to keep up. Time constraints and conflict of image were the main reasons for this choice.
Saget said he is still surprised that the general public expresses shock at the risque nature of his post-“Full House” stand-up routine.
“I guess not many people saw the HBO special,” Saget said. “I’ve been like this for awhile, but as I’ve gotten older, I have learned to turn it on and off.”
By “like this,” Saget is referring to the comedian seen in the 2008 YouTube video “Rollin’ with Saget,” who is shown hanging out in the back of a cab, smoking joints, cussing and surrounded by rappers and women. Or the Saget who guest starred on “Entourage” and “The Aristocrats” in 2005 and 2008 respectively.
Using his good guy reputation from “Full House,” he opened a show at Northeastern University by saying, “I did so much family TV, mainly when you guys were squirts. No, literally — that’s what you were. You were all semen, and don’t forget it.”
Saget writes down notes like any comedian and says most of his stuff is “silly,” but he would probably be doing this if he had a stand-up gig or not. It is just how his mind works, he said.
“I think that a lot of comedians have an agenda or some message they want to get across,” he said. “I went to one of [George] Carlin’s last shows, and it was pretty dark. But me, I just want to make people happy.”