Actor and comedian Bob Saget recently spoke by phone with Boston.com to talk about his new book, “Dirty Daddy,” as well as preview his upcoming show at the Wilbur Saturday night.
Check out what the “Full House” star had to say about the challenges of making his latest book, what fans should expect from his show, and more.
Boston.com: Your new book, in a lot of ways, mirrors your style of stand-up. Was it hard translating that stream of consciousness style to the rigid, narrative format of a book?
Bob Saget: Yeah, it was a challenge at first. Then once I figured it out, it was kind of like, “Oh. So this is free association, that’s what this is, this is what you do anyway.” It was like someone calling me on the phone and going, “Hey Bob, what’s going on?” and then I’d talk for four days.
I really wanted it to be about death and comedy and how they intersect. And then I realized that it’s a bit of a buzzkill. I would go through traumatic spouts [in the book], and it’s not unlike my act, except my act, I don’t get on stage and go, “Hey I just lost two sisters.” That’s not what I’m here to do with my stand-up. Although, it is something I could do, but it isn’t how I work. It feels self-serving for me to do that. But in the book, it felt like it was a best friend, a one-on-one conversation. It felt more appropriate to be able to open some personal stuff that I would have never have told someone unless it was like some intimate interview with somebody.
Boston.com: What was your favorite part about writing the book? Was it the catharsis of getting all your thoughts out there or was it just having fun with the jokes?
Saget: Well the jokes came after. The core of the book, and what it was about, the book really was about this is the kind of comedy that I do, this is what I’ve been criticized for or this is what I’ve been applauded for. Yes it came from this. Why did I get this? I put some blame on my dad because, when somebody would die, he would just go pick like what kind of cornbeef we were going to eat.
The more I wrote the book, the more I looked for ways to not have to write the book. That’s why there’s a running theme of the computer burning into my testicles, because they really do overheat, as you know, and I really did think I was having damage. I really did fantasize one night that it was eating my testicles, and that’s not good for your process. I really didn’t want to lose my testicles writing the book. It’s a maddening process to write a book. It’s very difficult.
Boston.com: How long did it take you to finish writing it?
Saget: A year and a half. There were times when I thought I was going to write every day, and I just didn’t. Then there were times where I would take a break, then the break was a couple days, and then I’d go, “Oh geez, God.” Then I’d have to go back into it in full, hardcore to get it done.
Boston.com: Your family plays a big role in the book. How did they react to it?
Saget: Well, my daughters loved it. My ex-wife loved it. My mother, who was passing away while I was finishing it, she was the first person to read it. It’s a 265 page book, she read about 111 pages, I recall, and she said, “My eyes are going, I can’t read the rest of it.” My response to her was, “I think you’re going to live longer from not reading anymore.” And that’s because there was a chapter coming up called “Things I Shouldn’t Have Done” and then the chapter “Relationships I’d Rather Not Talk About.” I don’t name names in it, I name people who were influenecs on me—Don Rickles, Richard Pryor—people that influenced me and changed my life. But I purposefully don’t name the people that are closest to me, because they didn’t sign up for that. They signed up to get money out of me. [Laughs] No, they signed up just to be in my life and are my loved ones.
The thing that brought me the most pride, especially with a book called “Dirty Daddy,” is that my three daughters said, all seperately, all at different times, that what an accomplishment it was and how proud they were of me. Even prouder that I remembered all of it, which is, when you’re having a blur in the middle of a mid-life crisis, most people don’t even know you’re there.
Boston.com: When it comes to your stand-up, even before your more high profile television gigs, it’s always been labeled as dirty.
Saget: I don’t even understand what that is. I just would say that I’m a comic.
Boston.com: Do you not like having labels attached to your work?
Saget: You now what’s funny, “Full House” and the video shows are the only reason why people say “dirty,” and I’m utilizing it. The book’s called “Dirty Daddy” and I did a movie called “Dirty Work,” and you know, I didn’t write the title, Norm MacDonald wrote it. But if I wasn’t on a family sitcom and had been just a guy who came out of the bullpen of comedy, people wouldn’t call me dirty. I’m not as blue as most people, which is very strange. Maybe they would, I don’t know. I still look like your dentist. Maybe they would go, “This guy doesn’t look like the guy who is talking on stage. Why would this guy who looks like this talk like that?”
It’s just nine-year-old comedy, though. Every time I go and say that I’m not that dirty, then I’ll watch my shows and go, “That was pretty blue.”
Boston.com: I got the chance to talk to Brian Regan a while back, and he said he didn’t like the “clean” label. Do you have similar feelings to being called “dirty?”
Saget: Well, nobody likes to be pigeon-holed, because that term sounds filthy in and of itself. If you’re pigeon-holing, you should probably be arrested, because it sounds terrible. But people need to do something in order to say what kind of thing you are. If you say this is a clean comedian, he’s a great clean comedian, you’re going to blow out your theaters and you can bring ten-year-olds to the show. Ten-year-olds want to come to my show because I was the dad on “Full House,” but they shouldn’t be there. So if there’s a ten-year-old in my audience, it’s going to mess up the show. I’m usually working in places anyway where there’s alcohol, so the kids can’t go.
But I don’t know. I don’t really get mad at anything anymore. I just want people to have a good time. You want them to show up and want them to have a good time. You don’t want anybody to feel like they didn’t get what they came there for. That’s the relationship between a performer and their fans.
Boston.com: Do you have any lines you won’t cross as a comedian?
Saget: Yeah actually! There’s certain words I don’t say, it’s so funny. Don Rickles is my friend and he doesn’t curse on stage, but he’ll say, “Jesus” or something—and I don’t say that on stage! [Laughs] I don’t mention anything religious in nature. Don Rickles is one of the funniest people to have ever lived, and he doesn’t use foul language ever in his work. He uses his generation’s exclamatories, you know? I don’t say that word, the “C-word,” I don’t use that word.
My stuff is more absurd, and it’s just like, “Be careful if you’re walking down the street and you have a very long penis and you can’t fit through the door and it’s hitting the speed bumps, sending off sparks.” That’s not even real! A lot of my silliness is more roadrunner possibilities than going into graphic detail about gynecological stuff. I don’t even listen to that. I’ve been in audiences where they show me their cell phone, and it’s like them having sex on it, I think I put this in the book, and it’s like, “Here look what we did.” I don’t want to see you naked dude! Or like, “Here, look. I made a poop, want to see it?” It’s like, no, I’m not that guy. It’s funny, you talk about stuff and people think you are that way, but I’d rather just talk about it and not own it.
Boston.com: What can fans expect from your show on Saturday?
Saget: It’s like a town meeting for me, I really love Boston. It’s like going on a date with the whole audience, and I don’t try to feel them up or anything. I just come out riffing and talk about whatever’s recent. What I’ve been doing is working on some new stuff, but because of the other work that I’ve been doing which has been keeping me really busy, I’m kind of doing new versions of the best-of jokes that I’m kind of putting back in that I haven’t done for a while. I also have a couple new songs, there’s about a half an hour of music. I wish I could play guitar better, but I really love doing it. It will be fairly entertaining. I don’t know what I’m going to do for the first 20 minutes, so I come out and throw a boogie board down and just surf for 20 minutes. I really don’t know what it’s going to be, I don’t know what I’m going to say. Some of the stories are going to come together like a collage of whatever, of scat material. I mean scat like riffing, not scat like poop. [Laughs] There might be poop too, it’s pretty hard not to talk about diarrhea when people have it.