Bob Saget is known to millions around the world as the mild-mannered dad from the television show Full House or the benign host of America’s Funniest Home Videos.
But Saget has been a stand-up comic since the late ’70s, and his act is as far from his TV persona as you can get. The 61-year-old’s latest comedy special, Zero To Sixty, includes stories from his own life, and he doesn’t shy away from sexual or profane topics.
“I look at it as a gift to be able to go out and make people laugh. And they get to go home and go, ‘Oh my God. I had so much fun. I didn’t know he was that funny,’ which is always sad,” Saget joked Monday on Morning Shift. “The point is I want to bring happiness to people and give them a good time.”
While in Chicago for a week of shows, Saget joined Morning Shift host Tony Sarabia to talk about Zero To Sixty, his comedy roots, and directing the upcoming movie, Benjamin.
On musical comedy
Bob Saget: I didn’t know I was going to be a comedian until I was 17 and I won a radio contest with some musical comedy. Tom Lehrer and other brilliant guys would craft pure humor to music. I was nominated for a Grammy for my last one. Everyone’s so sad that they need comedians among the nominees.
On avoiding religion and politics during his stand-up
Saget: When I get upset about something, I get so upset that I would turn it into a public forum. And that’s not my job. If I talk about religion or politics or any of it, I get very, very serious and I’m capable of crying in front of people because it’s so terrible.
So many things are being done, so many injustices, and there are so many just ludicrous acts against humanity that are happening, and always have. But because of the media, because of these stupid phones we have, because of Twitter, we’re just not as civilized.
Saget: It’s not for shock value. I have three daughters that are grown up — they’re 30, 28, and 25 — and there’s no problem with an f-bomb here or there. They use language sometimes, and we’re not puritanical. If it’s not a verb, if it’s an exclamatory over something, I’m OK. I don’t put much judgment on anything.
On using his family in his material
Saget: Well, I’ve always asked permission. With my book, Dirty Daddy, there’s a chapter that was very traumatic, where my first daughter almost didn’t survive and her mother — my ex-wife — almost didn’t survive. Thank God they did. I gave them 5,000 words of this chapter, and they both corrected me. So I had to go through rewrites.
Right now, there’s a thing I’ve been talking about because my daughters are all artists, and my middle daughter blows glass — that’s her artform. Now, if I’m telling an audience that my daughter blows glass, I’m not crossing any boundaries, but that’s not what I want. I would rather say that my daughter works with glass and she’s an artist.
On sexual humor
Saget: Puns for me do go with sexual innuendo. It’s so easy and that’s the problem. I really try not to do it. It might not get a laugh, but it takes your mind down that track where the audience is kind of playing the game with you. They know no matter what you’re going to say, it’s going to become lascivious. I really don’t mean to do it, but it’s what happens when you put me in front of a couple hundred or couple thousand people. And that’s why I’m loving touring, more now than ever.
On his hero Don Rickles
Saget: I snuck into the Latin Casino in New Jersey when I was 17 to see him — this was before I knew I’d be going into show business. Then in 1998, I directed the movie Dirty Work. It had a lot of famous comedians in it, was Chris Farley’s last movie, and Don played a theater manager. And in the past 10 years he became like a dad to me.
Don had a way of making fun of someone and then would make sure they were OK with it. Sometimes, he would go through every type of nationality, and it would be pure profiling. But he was so funny. His timing was impeccable.
On who would be Trump’s ‘favorite comedian’
Saget: I would say Don Rickles probably, and this is a guess, would have been Donald Trump’s favorite comedian. I would imagine because it was acerbic, hard-slamming making fun of somebody. But in the wrong hands, it comes off as insulting if someone doesn’t have the inner life of “I love people.”
I don’t think he would’ve talked about Donald Trump in his act. He didn’t during the debates. He was a pretty staunch Republican, but he didn’t like cruelty of any kind. When he would walk through a restaurant, he would give every person $20. It could be a customer; it didn’t matter. He just wanted to spread the wealth and be kind.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. Click the “play” button to hear the entire segment.