For those who know Bob Saget, the only thing funnier than the surprise that the star of Full House is a relentlessly filthy stand-up comedian is the perception that he was anything like his squeaky-clean sit-com persona in the first place. And, to be sure, Saget's brand of scatological humor — seen in The Aristocrats and his most-recent HBO special, That Ain't Right — is more silly than disturbing, like a large, absurdist child who has strange ideas about interacting with animals. Off stage, he's more introspective. When Saget called before a gig in Mississippi to talk about his upcoming shows at the Wilbur Theatre, the conversation touched on mortality, comedic honesty, and, of course, his testicles. Well, it didn't literally touch on his testicles, but . . . you get the idea.
You seem like a pretty happy guy. Are you just one of those really well-adjusted people who does filthy comedy?
I’ve had a lot of therapy. Here’s what I’ve learned. The ultimate thing is to be able to channel your filthy comedy into something that you do when you’re doing the comedy and not do it when you’re out with your kids at a school function. There is something to be said for channeling in it at the proper moments. When I was younger, especially, I’d just be on all the time. It gets annoying. And, I would meet people that I revered, like Richard Pryor and Rodney Dangerfield, and in between their sets, they were maybe thinking of the joke but they were just quiet, talking, being thoughtful. I’ve split the difference. I’m a functional person with people I care about, but when I’m sitting around with my girlfriend and I’m riffing on a bunch of a stuff, there are times where I realize, “This is not the time to be doing this. This is supposed to be a romantic dinner. Maybe you should shut up for a few minutes, instead of telling your little jokes.” Save them for a non-romantic occasion.
Your first big break was the 9th Annual Young Comedians Special on HBO in 1984, hosted by Rodney Dangerfield. Sam Kinison was on that show too. What do you remember about that?
It was a big life-changing moment in my career. I’d been working for six years trying to get a gig. Sam Kinison was someone about whom I said to Rodney, “You should watch this guy.” I met Sam in Texas, and I introduced him to Mitzi [Shore] at the Comedy Store [in Los Angeles]. That whole night – his irreverence and what he did in that special, he kind of grabbed it by the balls. I was on right before him, and in no way did my stuff grab you as viscerally as Sam Kinison’s. Sam said [about the USA for Africa hunger campaign], “Why is there a starving kid on camera? The camera man can give him a sandwich. You want to eat? Go where the food is. You live in a desert!”
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