Who is the real Bob Saget?
He's certainly not the squeaky-clean, relentlessly upbeat neat-freak he portrayed for eight years on the family-friendly sitcom "Full House." Nor does he seem to be the bawdy, acerbic-tongued comedian who shocked in the film "The Aristocrats" with his retelling of the most infamous dirty joke in show business.
Instead, Saget sounds polite and passionate about his work, which he is constantly trying to perfect. Saget refers to himself as an entertainer, an all-encompassing term that can apply to all of his endeavors - writing, directing and performing.
“I feel like I haven’t even started my career yet. ... I’m just a work in progress.”
Bob Saget, on his future in show business
"I give 1,000 percent to everything I can," Saget said. "What I really love is making people laugh - you're making life easier for them for awhile, you're entertaining them."
At the Seneca Allegany Casino in Salamanca on April 14, he will perform stand-up, "which I've been working on my whole life," Saget said with a laugh.
"It's a new hour that I've been working on for the last four years, really," he explained. "I'm planning to do a special in June so I'm touring now I just love it."
Saget knew that he would be a comedian at age 9. He was always making comedy films, starting with his Super 8 camera. Throughout his adolescent years, his family moved a lot, living in many different cities - but while the location changed, one thing remained the same.
"I always loved trying to be funny, I guess - or being funny, which is different."
When Saget was 17, he won a radio contest in Philadelphia, performing an irreverent, humorous song on his guitar.
"Most of my (early) stand-up was musical, I didn't take the guitar off," Saget said. "And when I did, I didn't know what I was doing. After a few years I decided to be a man and take the guitar off, not use it as my prop or my safety net, and then did a bunch of stand-up for many, many years. I've always tried to push the envelope and do things that challenged me."
A BIG BREAK - IN BUFFALO
Saget's dream was to become a documentary filmmaker but comedy was not something he could leave behind. He pursued both simultaneously, attending Philadelphia's Temple University for documentary filmmaking and performing in comedy sketch groups in New York.
The first time Saget can remember performing in front of an audience was at a screening of a comical film he had made.
"I made a student movie called 'Beach Blanket Blintzes' - it was a 50-foot blintz that went to the Empire State Building and turned people into sour cream."
Saget said the jokes he told to break the tension and create a rapport with the audience were more amusing than the film.
After film school and a move to Los Angeles to study acting, he began taking his stand-up act on the road. It was at a performance in Buffalo where Saget was signed by two men who are now two of the most powerful producers in Hollywood.
"I was signed by Harvey Weinstein, who's Harvey Weinstein now, and Brad Grey, who's Brad Grey now," Saget said. "I was in a tiny, little room in a club in Buffalo and Harvey said, 'We want to manage you.' And I said, 'OK!'"
"I performed at a place called Stage One, I'd seen Blondie there the night before," he said. "And I performed at Buffalo Memorial Auditorium opening for Gino Vannelli, singing 'I Just Wanna Stop.' It was quite an amazing time. I had no money and no success but these guys thought I was funny."
Currently, Weinstein is chairman of The Weinstein Company, a production company, and Grey is CEO and chairman of Paramount Pictures.
"I saw Harvey recently - it was very fun to see him - out here in LA," Saget said. "Brad was my manager for 25 years and is still one of my dearest friends on earth."
Saget became a star in the late 1980s and early '90s on "Full House" and as host of "America's Funniest Home Videos." Two decades and a multitude of projects later, fans still cling to the character he played so convincingly, many believed it was who he was.
"It's a compliment," Saget said. "I've been told that - I'd like to think it's because I was doing my acting job. It was a silly show to do, it was really made for 12-year-old girls, and so we committed to it. They don't make shows of that nature on network anymore with that tone. They do them on Nickelodeon or ABC Family because otherwise everybody's talking in some heightened, afterschool theater voice, you know?"
There is quite the dichotomy between Danny Tanner and his provocative onstage persona. His stand-up is often referred to as "blue comedy," but Saget begs to differ, describing his sense of humor as "silly and smart." Saget still finds that it can be difficult to explain to fans that on "Full House," he was simply building a character who loved to hug and dust-bust. He took a job on a sitcom, he insists, and it was just a job.
"I mean, it's so funny, I was on 'Law and Order: LA' last year and I played a guy that killed everybody," Saget said. "If I played that every week, then people would go, 'Are you really a murderer?' It was eight years of homespun, Brady-like life that stayed. That will never go away. It's part of the culture."
"It's all a gift. The whole thing, it's funny - it's almost like a dream."
Over the years, Saget has been involved in a wide variety of projects. He's most proud of a made-for-TV film he directed and executive produced called, "For Hope" in 1996, starring Dana Delaney and Harold Gould. The movie helped to spread awareness of scleroderma, an autoimmune disease that claimed the life of his sister.
"It was a privilege, being able to work and make something that meant something to the victims of this disease to try to help them in the future," Saget said. "I'm still very active with the Scleroderma Research Foundation. I'm on the board."
Saget also loved acting onstage. He was in the off-Broadway play "Privilege" in 2005 and starred in the musical comedy "The Drowsy Chaperone" on Broadway in 2007.
"I had the lead role in it called 'Man in Chair.' My mother said, 'You didn't even have a big part? He's called 'Man in Chair?' I'm like, 'No, that's the character name,'" he joked.
"But to play nine shows a week, 1,800 people a night, suddenly be on Broadway and have an amazing experience, it was just one of the coolest things I've ever experienced," Saget said. "It really stayed with me."
In addition to his ongoing gig as the narrator for the popular CBS series "How I Met Your Mother" and touring in preparation for the filming of his stand-up special in June, Saget currently has many things in the works. He will be returning to directing in a film he "really loves."
"I can't really talk about (it) because it's not completely locked and loaded, we're in such beginning stages," Saget said. "In directing, you truly get to collaborate with everyone. It's kind of my favorite job in show business. There's a certain dignity that comes with it. You get to learn so much from so many talented people. And you all are working for the common good, which is to make a great project."
Saget hinted that he may be getting back in front of the camera in a television series. He is hoping for a "really consequential, well-acted" show and is searching for one that will be the right fit. He is also authoring an autobiographical book.
"It's very personal," he said. "No one's writing that with me. It's just me and the laptop and me praying that it doesn't overheat."
Like Leslie Neilsen and Rodney Dangerfield, Saget feels that his best years will come later in life.
"I feel like I haven't even started my career yet," Saget said. "I'm 55 The stuff that I have yet to do will be the stuff that will be more of consequence. Even though the stuff I've done, in other people's perceptions, it is as high as you can go - but definitely not to me.
"I'm just a work in progress."
For tickets to Saget's 7 p.m. performance on April 14, visit www.senecaalleganycasino.com.
April Diodato is the lifestyles editor at the OBSERVER in Dunkirk.