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The Untold Truth Of Bob Saget

Beloved comedian, actor, writer, and director Bob Saget died on January 9, 2022, at the age of 65. He is widely known as one of the most beloved TV dads in America thanks to his role as a clean freak widower Danny Tanner on "Full House." Right around the same time, he got a gig hosting the clip show "America's Funniest Home Videos," which mostly consisted of videos of men being hit in the groin. His humor on these shows was gentle and corny, and they lasted for such a long time that he became a memorable figure on TV. 

However, Saget came up with a number of cutting-edge stand-up comics and improvisers in California, and he never lost his edge as a comedian. His first love was as a writer and director, and he had a number of opportunities to do both later in his career. When Saget's time on his famous shows ended, he was more than delighted to shock the world with just how filthy his sense of humor truly was. He also gleefully mocked his persona on his shows, playing versions of himself in various projects that made fun of everything about that family-friendly fare. Let's take a look at just how broad Bob Saget's interests were and how many people loved working with him. 

Bob Saget and professional wrestling

In his long, varied, and strange career, Bob Saget intersected with the world of professional wrestling a couple of times. It wasn't the glitzy WWE with a typical celebrity appearance on a pay-per-view event, however. The first time he appeared was via a video recording in the middle of a CHIKARA show. CHIKARA was a small, independent wrestling federation that trained dozens of wrestlers who would go on to bigger things. In this show, rivals Jigsaw and Icarus were told that the "commissioner of CHIKARA" was going to reveal the stipulation for their upcoming match. It turned out to be Bob Saget, who said that he was both "a commissioner and a gynecologist" and announced a hair versus mask match, much to their consternation. 

In 2010, Saget had a short-lived show on A&E called "Strange Days with Bob Saget," wherein he would examine a different subculture every week. One week, he picked wrestling and the small promotion Dragon Gate USA. He was going to be the ring announcer for a young wrestler named Luke Hawx but was confronted by a young Jon Moxley. Moxley would go on to become a champion in WWE as Dean Ambrose as well as a champion in the new AEW promotion under his original ring name. In this clip, he asks Saget if he's ever been choked out before Moxley gets attacked. Always sticking to his shtick, Saget leaves the ring, claiming he forgot something in his car. 

Raising Dad with future MCU stars

Bob Saget's WB show "Raising Dad" aired for a single season in 2001. The premise was almost a direct lift from "Full House": a father struggles to raise two daughters by himself after the death of his wife. His busybody dad often pops in to give him unwanted advice. The father, Matt, is a teacher who has his teen daughter Sarah in his class, and he frequently embarrasses her. The show is less interesting for what it was than for the future of its cast and writers.

Sarah was played by 15-year-old Kat Dennings, and her sister Emily was played by 12-year-old Brie Larson. Larson would go on to win an Academy Award for her role in "Room" and then gain worldwide fame for playing Carol Danvers in the MCU hit "Captain Marvel," as well as subsequent Avengers films. Dennings was Jane Foster's sidekick in the first two "Thor" films and had an extended role in the Disney+ series "WandaVision." Both of them have starred in numerous films and television shows. Upon his death, Dennings tweeted: "He always went out of his way to make me feel comfortable."

"Raising Dad" was created by veteran comedian Jonathan Katz, best known for creating and voicing the beloved '90s series "Dr. Katz: Professional, Therapist." He gave a young writer named B.J. Novak his first job of any kind in Hollywood, as Novak wrote two episodes. Four years later, Novak would star on and write for "The Office." 

Raunchy versus clean

The greatest paradox in the career of Bob Saget is that most people think of him as incredibly wholesome because of the years he played Danny Tanner and told silly jokes as host of "America's Funniest Home Videos." The truth is that Saget's sense of humor has always been incredibly dark and extremely raunchy. He took those roles because they were a steady paycheck and gained him a great deal of popularity as a result. 

After his stints on those shows ended, Saget delighted in playing against his wholesome image in his stand-up act and in other roles. His foul, seven-minute rendition of the fabled comedian in-joke "the Aristocrats" was perhaps the most shocking version of that joke in the comedy documentary "The Aristocrats." Elsewhere, he had a memorable four-episode run in "Entourage" as the boys' new neighbor. At one point, his character starts discussing having an account at a brothel and sending a plane directly to Colombia to get the best drugs. 

Of course, his comedy specials "That Ain't RIght," "Zero to Sixty," and "That's What I'm Talkin' About" were all R-rated, and he was intentional about this. When speaking with The Daily Northwestern about his tenure on "Full House," he said, "The show changed me. I felt like my voice was tainted because I had to serve that audience. If I cursed, it would have been a big deal in my stand-up back then. Everything I do now is R-rated."

Now you see him ...

One of the fun things about Bob Saget is that he's so recognizable that when he makes a cameo, it's easy to notice. On top of this, his desire to work against his squeaky-clean image often makes these cameos particularly funny. For example, in the 1998 stoner comedy "Half-Baked," Saget pops up in a scene where Dave Chappelle's character is going to a rehab session for smoking pot. This outrages Saget's character, a cocaine addict who indignantly tells Chappelle what he has to resort to in order to get a fix. 

One of his longest-running roles came without a single on-screen appearance. That's because he was the voice of future Ted on "How I Met Your Mother" for all 206 episodes of the popular series. He also had a special bond with Jason Radnor, the actor who played the younger version of the character. "This man that I'd delighted in seeing on TV for years cheering me on, letting me know I had a right to be there and playing that character ... I can't overstate how meaningful his words were," Radnor tweeted after Saget's death.

Most recently, Saget was the "Squiggly Monster" on the popular show "The Masked Singer." He dressed up in a ridiculous costume and sang before he was voted out, surprising his old friend Ken Jeong, who was one of the judges. After Jeong warmly thanked him for supporting him early in his career, Saget joked that Jeong (a doctor) gave him a free exam after the show. 

A powerful fundraiser

Something that was vitally important to Bob Saget was raising funds for a cure for the rare disease scleroderma. It's the disease that killed his sister Gay when she was just 47 years old after years of being misdiagnosed. After he finished up "Full House," he wrote and directed a film for ABC based on his sister's experiences with the disease called "For Hope," which starred Dana Delany. Describing his sister's experiences and the film, he told Ability Magazine, "The doctors put her on cortisones, which make a person nutty. My sister had a psychotic episode, and I put that in 'For Hope.' That was a crazy time." Elsewhere, Delany spoke warmly of Saget's skill as a director and his keen understanding of the line between comedy and tragedy. "We would ride up to the edge of melodrama, and then there would be some joke that would break the tension. It was just a joyous, joyous film shoot, and everybody remained very close from it," she told The Hollywood Reporter.

Oddly, Saget hosted a comedy benefit for scleroderma a couple of years before his sister was even diagnosed. Saget served on the board of the Scleroderma Research Fund until his death and worked tirelessly to raise money. His willingness to help any of his comedian friends with their causes at any time meant that he was able to call in favors and get people like Jerry Seinfeld to perform at his fundraisers. 

A real family

When asked by The Daily Northwestern in 2006 if he still kept in touch with the cast of "Full House," Saget replied, "All the time. We went to dinner in Malibu. There were fourteen of us and people were just looking at us. They were probably thinking, 'What is with these people?'" For a show that ran for eight years and didn't speak to him as an artist, that never seemed to spill over into his personal interactions. 

The cast released a group statement upon Saget's death that said:" "Thirty-five years ago, we came together as a TV family, but we became a real family. And now we grieve as a family. ... He was a brother to us guys, a father to us girls and a friend to all of us. ... We ask in Bob's honor, hug the people you love. No one gave better hugs than Bob." 

Jodie Sweetin, who played the wise-cracking middle child Stephanie Tanner, said on her Instagram, "Bob was a wonderful human being. A human being that could drive you nuts at times, and he knew it, but who was so genuine that you couldn't even get that frustrated. ... He was a genuinely kind spirit who made it through so much in his life, and was most happy when he was helping others. ... I'll make sure and tell an inappropriate joke at your funeral. In your honor. I know you would've wanted that. But you were supposed to be here longer ... How Rude. Thank you all for the love."

Dirty Daddy

Of all of Saget's many and varied projects, perhaps the most personal was his 2014 memoir "Dirty Daddy," which was a New York Times bestseller thanks to his frank and funny explorations of so many topics. It also revealed that Saget's dark comedy was fueled in part as a response to the tragedy he and his family faced, as he had to experience the death of multiple siblings. He said that his biggest comic influence was his dad, whom Saget told The Oklahoman "dealt with death and hardships through humor ... often sick and weird humor."

It's fitting that the first joke he wrote at the age of 17 was, "I have the brain of a German shepherd and the body of a 16-year-old boy ... and they're both in the trunk of my car and I want you to see them." His sense of humor was infectious. In 2014, he said, "I actually did change Mary-Kate's and Ashley's diapers once. And that was four years ago. Ashley came up with the punch line to that joke."

Saget's first onscreen role came in the '80s sitcom "Bosom Buddies," starring Tom Hanks. However, the book revealed that this role was a favor, and his real job was warming up the audience before the show. Though his part was small, Hanks insisted on giving him a name in the credits: "Bob the Comic." 

Saget the director

Bob Saget had a multifaceted career. While he spent years as an actor and stand-up, his career actually began as a director. When he was at film school at Temple University, he directed an 11-minute short film called "Through Adam's Eyes." It was a serious, touching documentary about his nephew, who was undergoing facial reconstruction surgery. He won a Student Academy Award and was flown to Los Angeles to receive it — an event that kick-started his career. Speaking to USA Today, he said of the moment, "When I found out that I was being flown out, that was like winning a beauty contest. I couldn't even believe that it happened. I was on local television in Philadelphia!" 

In 1997, he directed a TV movie called "Jitters" about a woman (Joely Fisher) taken off-guard when she gets a marriage proposal. Another TV movie, "Becoming Dick," was made in 2000 and starred Harland Williams as a struggling actor who achieved success at a high cost. However, Saget's best-known directorial project was the infamous 1998 flop "Dirty Work," starring Norm Macdonald and Artie Lange as brothers who start a revenge business for hire. The film was chopped up to give it a PG-13 rating and released in the middle of the summer popcorn movie season. It's since become a cult classic, and there were even talks for a sequel before Macdonald died. 

Farce of the Penguins

Bob Saget couldn't turn off his inner comedian. When watching the 2005 Oscar-winning documentary "March of the Penguins," Saget's reaction was to crack jokes about what he was seeing with "offensive" voices, per The Seattle Times. He had the idea of going much further with this idea, and after National Geographic rejected his request for footage of penguins, he got some of his own on the cheap and enlisted many, many of his friends to provide voiceovers.

The result was a direct-to-DVD movie called "Farce Of The Penguins," and the cast is beyond an all-star team of comedy; it's more like an entire Hall of Fame. Samuel L. Jackson is the narrator, with his notoriously foul mouth being a perfect comedic counterpoint to the dignity of Morgan Freeman's narration in "March of the Penguins." And the film is so cheaply made that Roger Corman might have told them to spruce things up a little. Describing the process, Saget said, "It's like a porn film, where six minutes later it's the same two-shot. You never know who's talking. You just don't care at a certain point." 

The cast included former TV co-stars Brie Larson, John Stamos, Dave Coulier, and Jodi Sweetin. His stand-up friends showed up in bunches: Gilbert Gottfried, Norm Macdonald, Dane Cook, Lewis Black, and Jon Lovitz. Big names like Whoopi Goldberg, Tracy Morgan, and Damon Wayans also all contributed to the silliness. Of the cast, Saget said, "Someone asked me, 'Why are you using all your favors on this?'"

Stage experience

In 2005, Bob Saget starred in the off-Broadway play "Privilege," directed by Paul Weitz. It's about a stockbroker who goes to prison for insider trading. On why he took the role, Saget told Newsweek, "There's no money. You pay money to do it. I love Paul Weitz's work. They said, 'He wrote a show, and he'd like you to be in it.' I read it, and that was that. It's the kind of work I love. This character is so 180 to whom I am. I love doing it. I guess directing is my favorite thing to do, but I'm loving this. Also, I've always been fascinated by what it is young boys go through in their lives. I always feel they're misrepresented."

In 2007, he played a four-month engagement as Man in Chair in the musical "The Drowsy Chaperone." This musical is a parody of musicals from the 1920s, with the Man in Chair being an antisocial Broadway fanatic who puts on a recording of his favorite (but fictional!) musical called "The Drowsy Chaperone." His apartment suddenly becomes an elaborate stage, and Man in Chair comments on what he's seeing the whole time, cracking jokes and making self-deprecatory comments. Given his history on "America's Funniest Home Videos," this was a remarkably apt bit of stunt casting. 

The legacy of America's Funniest Home Videos

"America's Funniest Home Videos" debuted in 1989 and is still plugging along with current host Alfonso Ribeiro. Based on a Japanese game show that had a celebrity judging panel, creator Vin Di Bona got rid of the celebrities to make room for more videos. People liked the show for the same reason people like viral videos: they like cute animals and guys getting hit in the groin. Bob Saget knew it was getting a response right away, telling The Conway Daily Sun, "When we first aired, I got a call from Tom Hanks, who is a friend, and he said, 'This is the funniest thing I've ever seen!' That was an indication, getting phone calls."

When asked about his favorite clip, Saget said, "My favorite I was never able to air. It's a video of a monkey in the tree, and he scratches his butt, sniffs his hand, shakes, and passes out, falling out of frame. [The network's] standards and practices said, 'You can't run it.' But when Tom [Bergeron[ hosted, he had me on as a guest, and they were finally able to show it."

Oddly enough, ABC News broke into the East Coast broadcast of "America's Funniest Home Videos" to announce Saget's death.