Laugh­ing mat­ter

Co­me­dian Saget buf­fers per­sonal tragedy with foul-mouthed hu­mour

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - BOOKS -

JOUR­NAL­ISM, they say, is the first draft of his­tory. And while Bob Saget’s per­sonal mem­oir rarely mer­its the term “jour­nal­ism,” it does some­times read like a first draft. Part of the rea­son is Saget’s at­tempt to write along with the reader, in­ter­ject­ing short bursts of ADHD-like di­gres­sions — as if stick­ing with the tale were too much to bear. This might be clas­sic comedic sleight of hand, never want­ing life to get too real. And it’s un­der­stand­able. Saget, thet tall and af­fa­ble host of Amer­ica’s Fun­ni­est Home Videos and star of the long-run­ning, sug­arysweet sit­com Full House, has lived a less-than-sunny life. The first two chap­ters of Dirty Daddy, his slim au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, are a litany of death; beloved rel­a­tives, a good num­ber too, are taken too yyoung. Not only did Saget’s par­ents lolose new­born twins to dysen­tery, bbut they would suf­fer the loss of two grown daugh­ters. Saget’s first wife also came within inches of dy­ing while giv­ing birth to their first child. The reader is in­clined to dou­blecheck that Saget was born in the 20th century, not the 19th — such is the Dick­en­sian de­gree of mor­tal­ity. There’s no doubt Saget’s of­ten very dark standup com­edy is a way of deal­ing with the pain and grief, and he says as much. Suf­fer­ing has also given Saget a spir­i­tual side, some­what rare in standup. It has fos­tered a de­sire to see the best in people, to try to find some beauty in each per­son he en­coun­ters, even as he’s con­fined with them for hours in an air­plane. De­spite the potty level of the hu­mor­ous asides (some of them pretty funny), Saget comes off as quite lik­able, but boy, can he be dark, as the first joke Saget wrote at age 17 demon­strates: “I have the brains of a Ger­man shepherd and the body of a 16-year-old boy... and they’re both in the trunk of my car if you want to see them.” Then there’s the hor­ri­fy­ing joke Saget cracked when his daugh­ter was born that can­not be printed here. Thank­fully, the joke that got him kicked off the cast of The Morn­ing Edi­tion on CBS can. When host Ma­ri­ette Hart­ley asked whether Bob was a type-A per­son­al­ity, Saget replied: “Yes, but I’m try­ing to work on my A-ness.” Saget was off CBS and on to ABC and the hit show Full House, al­though Saget claims he wasn’t the first choice to play Danny Tan­ner, jok­ing that that hon­our went to Betty White. Sadly, the Full House chap­ter is barely even PG, chock full of typ­i­cal show­biz tripe about how close the cast mem­bers were and what a good time was had by all. Here some gal­lows hu­mour could have helped.

Still, for eight years in the late ’80s and early ’90s, Saget was on two top-rated TV shows at the same time — a very rare achieve­ment. When the chap­ters on Full House and Amer­ica’s Fun­ni­est Home Videos con­clude, it’s with the re­al­iza­tion Saget hasn’t done much since: a cameo in the doc­u­men­tary The Aris­to­crats, the star of a Com­edy Cen­tral roast, and a gig play­ing him­self in the HBO se­ries En­tourage are stretched out to a full chap­ter. Jeff Ross has the best line in the chap­ter. He is quoted as say­ing at Saget’s roast: “In hon­our of the late Ge­orge Car­lin, here are an­other seven words you can’t say on TV: ‘And the Emmy goes to Bob Saget.’” Af­ter fin­ish­ing Dirty Daddy you could say the same about the like­li­hood of a Pulitzer. Still, if you like Bob Saget — and there’s much to like — there are worse ways to pass a few hours. A Full House marathon comes to mind.

Al Rae is the artis­tic di­rec­tor of the Win­nipeg Com­edy Fes­ti­val.

Dirty Daddy

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