The former Full House star tells the biggest inside joke in comedy.
Bob Saget went from goody goody father on Full House to the raunchy stand up comic he's more used to. All the filth comes out in The Aristocrats - it's a documentary film about a small joke in the comedy world that has gotten way out of hand.
Magician/commedian Penn Jillette and stand up comic Paul Provenza gathered some of their friends - the biggest commedians in the industry to tell this joke in their own way.
Bob was one of those chosen and we spoke with him about the film, his career, and just comedy in general.
Here's what he had to say:
How many children do you have?
Bob Saget: I have three kids, the oldest is 18 and her friends are going to see it (The Aristocrats) because they told her they're going to see it, especially her guy friends. Because I was on Entourage last week smoking a bong and making out with hookers and I did show them that before, cause it wasn't a hard ‘r' cause a lot of people are watching that show that they know, not my little one – she's 12, but very sophisticated so it's an unusual case. If she wasn't like she was, I wouldn't have shown it. This one, I cannot let her see it; my mom wants to see it. I told her ‘No, it's just not right. You're my mother. What I did I'm not that proud of.' I find it fascinating that you're interviewing me about The Aristocrats.
What kind of reaction did you get from that episode [of Entourage]?
Bob Saget: It's been great!
Are you going to be featured in any more episodes?
Bob Saget: Well, I just did a play in New York which has been my best experience that I've had for maybe ever. It was Paul Weitz's play called Privilege; he wrote About a Boy and In Good Company and directed those movies too. So he wrote this play Privilege and I was in New York for three months. Right before I did this play, I did Entourage and they had written the part for me. I'm friends with a lot of the guys on that show – Doug Allen, Cliff Dorfman and Rob Weiss; we wrote a movie once together. Now people want what the movie was about, which is violent comedy. And that's really what The Aristocrats is based on – what will a family do out of desperation.
Of course Entourage is fiction; you've never met anyone like that?
Bob Saget: I don't roll like that (laughing) but I've never been with a hooker either. Yeah, that's good to say in an interview cause I feel bad a little because people grew up watching me and that's a little disturbing. But this thing is so interesting, because it's an urban legend joke, it's not even a good joke, it's a terrible joke; the punch line sucks, but the punch line is ‘are we dignified and look what we just did.' But, some people are offended by it, people who have been through heinous acts or traumas in their lives shouldn't see it, unless they're able to joke about those kinds of things. My whole family, we kept having people die all the time – my dad lost four brothers, I lost two sisters. We just started cracking jokes like ‘Oh well, let's just put her into the ground.' We did things differently and other people aren't made that way. They're probably right. It's a defense mechanism.
Did you have any trepidation about doing something like this?
Bob Saget: I had trepidation 100% in doing the whole thing. Paul [Provenza] and Penn [Jillette] are great friends; I've known Paul for 25 years, I auditioned for him at the University of Pennsylvania and I've known Penn for about 15 years and they both know my comedy is not the comedy from Full House. It was a JOB; the video show was a JOB; you don't tell the Aristocrats joke at 8 o'clock at night on network tv, it would be funny though. But those guys know I like dirty stuff, I like clean stuff too. I have a feeling I'm going to wake up one day and say ‘I can't do dirty stuff anymore, I want to go all clean.' I'll do clean stuff too, I like to entertain people. Then they egged me on; we shot it at The Laugh Factory, right here on Sunset [Blvd]. It was the two of them with three DV cameras and you can tell in the result of it.
How long did they spend with you?
Bob Saget: An hour. It takes a little bit of time, you know, the set up. But if they went to people's office; it looked like they went to Paul Riser's office and George Carlin's office, but I don't like to do things around my house, especially not The Aristocrats joke – you know, I've got three kids.
Can you talk about dissecting the joke? Can you dissect it?
Bob Saget: I think when you dissect a joke too much, you have ruined whatever there is in comedy. Yet there are some people - Steve Allen would dissect comedy forever; he's a really funny guy, but he would love talking about comedy. I'm doing it right now and you all seem bored (laughter). But the nature of comedy is ‘just do it.' But I think what's interesting about it is this joke has been around and why. And it's just saying what's wrong and how wrong can you be if you say it. A couple people are absent that I love like Cosby and Seinfeld are not there, for obvious reasons, and Chris Rock doesn't tell the joke. But I tell it, Paul Riser tells it in an interesting way; he dissects it and tells the structure, you know, ‘you don't mention that part here.' But that's what's interesting about it and the people who are absent are interesting too. But that's what it is, it's 103 comedians, or however many it is, and how would everyone tell it. It's enough people of substance that it makes you think of the people who aren't there that are alive.
How's your career going these days?
Bob Saget: It's going pretty bad, I'm promoting The Aristocrats. Actually, right now, it's the beginning of a really good time for me. I'm out doing stand up by choice and I hit House of Blues a few weeks ago, I'm doing 5000 seat theaters and audiences are going nuts, it's fantastic and it makes me very happy. I'm dirty, but not like this; I just do comedy that I find funny. I'm working on a new tv show for cable and it's not set up yet.
It's funny that you're doing a show for cable; do you think network tv is a wasteland?
Bob Saget: No, no, no. I don't think it is, and I don't think it ever will be because something good always comes out. I think Desperate Housewives is a pretty good show, I watch it, I like it and I don't love reality tv that much. I do watch some, I've got three daughters so we'll watch the good stuff, the fun stuff. I don't like the negative of reality tv – the ‘you're no good, so you have to leave, I choose you, but I thought you really loved me.' It's all about how bad people are and I just hate that. I like Pimp my Ride where someone is helping somebody. But as far as network tv, I've had a pilot every single year that didn't sell for the past four years, that'll smack you in the back of the head. I had a really good one last year; I wouldn't have done the play in New York if I had gotten that one. But I really grew as a result, at least I feel; some people I like feel that about me. Damon Wayans wrote a show for me with Don Reo, who wrote My Wife and Kids; the three of us went to Hawaii, we wrote the pilot, ABC wanted it and then they didn't pick it up. And they had their reasons; it was outside the box, not way outside the box. I was a divorced guy with kids, dating inappropriate people for the kids, I was a late-night radio guy. It had some elements of some old shows and some new stuff; it wasn't Full House and it wasn't the last show I did, Raising Dad, it wasn't trying to be homogenous anything. And they didn't want to do it, that's the nature of the business, that's their right. Would I go there again, sure. You're asking people for millions of dollars to make a show; you know, a cheap sit-com is a million bucks just to make a show, forget your talent fees. You know, we're living in a crazy world. Unless you've got Ted Turner living in your back yard, or you're a billionaire, you're not going to spend that kind of money yourself. Good people are hard to find. There are a couple people who want me to direct a movie; that would stop me from being on air in the next six months to a year. What I have now are good problems of trying to decide and what I really want to do is good work next. My phone's ringing a lot more and I've got nine lines so when it doesn't ring, it's very frustrating.
How do you think comedy has changed through the years?
Bob Saget: I think comedy is on an organic upsurge right now because when I started, it was 1978 at The Comedy Store and [David] Letterman had just stopped emceeing his morning show. I just started emceeing with a few other people. And the lineup was incredible – Billy Crystal, Jay Leno, Michael Keaton, [Johnny] Carson would come in prior to me going up. It was Robin [Williams], Richard [Pryor] every night; I got Sam Kinison his first spot at the Store. That was, it hasn't see that again, that was insane; you couldn't get into any of the clubs. The Comedy Store – all three rooms were filled with 800 people in the room. And during that time, all these guys and some women, but mostly guys who weren't funny were doing stand up for a living; they weren't accountants, they were making $30-$50 grand a year on the road, or more. And 25, 30 years ago, that meant something, they were making some money. And they were doing all sorts of comedy, screaming at the audience, basically crowd control. And then there was the whole urban comedy scene. And I would actually go up during those; it was kind of scary for the people at first and then they were happy. Now, there's a couple amazing people out on the road like Pablo Francisco and Dane Cook is out there and they're building a huge audience with the craft of stand up comedy. There was this whole middle time that only Chris Rock came out of, you know, 10 years ago it was Chris and a few other people, but that's about it. Chris is in a class of his own; I don't see another comedian who I put in high regard as him.
Would you want him to host the Oscars again?
Bob Saget: I'd be happy with that; I think he did a good job. I saw him working the set out before. The fact that people can't tell if he killed or bombed is not a bad thing cause he didn't bomb. He could have done a few things different, but the first time hosting the Oscars! Chris Rock hosting the Oscars – that's good, I like that!
How do you know when it's going south; I think about Gilbert Gottfried's scene in this film?
Bob Saget: That's an amazing piece of video. Forgetting how foul it is, forgetting how you perceive filth. It was right after 9/11, and this guy is already feeling like ‘What does it matter, what does anything matter.' And he's a little bit nutty anyway. It turns into this ‘mad as hell and not going to take it anymore' scene from Network and he goes nuts, which I felt was the most compelling part of the movie in a way cause it wasn't airable and he just went into battle attack. He was holding onto the podium for dear life; it was compelling to watch.
If you can take a dirty joke or two, then you'll be laughing so hard you might even miss what comes next. The Aristocrats opens in theaters July 29th; it's not rated for obvious reasons.