Growing up in a hockey town like Detroit, Dave Coulier spent his childhood skating on frozen ponds while idolizing legends such as Gordie Howe and Bobby Orr.
During the height of his Full House career, the comedy star actually got to meet—and skate—with the Bruins legend Orr during an NHL All-Star event in Boston.
Coulier, who’s performing at Laugh Boston this weekend, spoke with Boston.com about what it was like to meet his sports idol, why the woodchuck is his spirit animal, and what’s next for the former Uncle Joey.
Boston.com: You’re a Red Wings fan and you’re coming to Boston, which is a big hockey town. I read you once got to skate with Bruins legend Bobby Orr.
Dave Coulier: I did! I just finished reading Bobby Orr’s book, and I’ve always been a fan of him. When I actually met him at the All-Star Game at the old Boston Garden, we got to spend a little bit of time together, and I got to know him more as Bobby Orr the human being. It’s amazing when you meet someone of that stature and then you realize, “My God, what an incredible human being.’’ I think it was more of a thrill for me to be able to sit down and actually talk with Bobby Orr than it was to skate with him.
Boston.com: What do you remember of the experience and what did you guys talk about?
Coulier: I just recall how humble he was and that he was kind of in awe of all the TV and movie guys that were there skating in the game. Just to have a guy like that be in awe of anybody is an amazing scene to behold.
Boston.com: How did you get into hockey?
Coulier: In Detroit, we grew up with Gordie Howe and the Red Wings. Every kid who grows up there wants to be a Red Wing, so we skated on frozen ponds and lakes and rivers and outdoor rinks. That’s all we did as kids. … It was great place to grow up and play the game.
Boston.com: This winter weather we’re having shouldn’t faze you then when you come to town.
Coulier: Nope, doesn’t faze me. In fact, I don’t get much of it anymore living in southern California that it’s actually, I know it sounds silly, but I really enjoy it.
Boston.com: Switching gears a bit, there’s a Facebook page dedicated to posting the same picture of you from the ’90s every single day. Have you seen this before and what do you think about it?
Coulier: Oh yeah, I’ve definitely heard about it. It’s something that kind of pops up quite often in my e-mail or my, of course, correspondence with fans, who are like, “Have you seen this?’’ Yeah, it’s kind of strange that someone would put that kind of effort posting the same picture. It’s been featured on Ellen and a couple of other shows where people just say, “What the F?’’ [Laughs] That’s kind of my reaction too.
Boston.com: Do you find it flattering at all?
Coulier: Believe me, I’m flattered with anything that recalls something I’ve done. It’s an honor and a privilege to have something even as silly as that.
Boston.com: After Full House ended you took a little break from comedy. How long were you gone and what made you want to get back on stage?
Coulier: I took about eight years off and it was during the Full House/America’s Funniest People/Muppet Babies/Ghostbusters time in my life where I was doing those four shows at the same time. I was also doing stand-up and trying to promote Full House and America’s Funniest People, it was really time-consuming and it consumed just about every phase of my life. I didn’t really have much time to think about anything else and I realized that in order to do stand-up, you really have to focus on that stand-up. …
So I took some time off. I took eight years off and another big factor in that was that I was a new dad. I was a new, single dad, and I wanted to spend time with my son. Going on the road, I know how much energy and time and dedication it takes to be a good stand-up, and I wasn’t prepared to trade time with my son for being on the road at that time. I stepped away from stand-up, I stepped away from the limelight. I taught my son how to color with crayons and read and throw a baseball and shoot a hockey puck. It was all of those things that I knew I would never be able to get back. I dedicated myself to being a good father, and the only way you can do that is with time, and being on a plane, in a rental car, or in a hotel room takes a lot of time.
I went to a comedy club eight years later, and I was so impressed at how good the comedians were that I was tagging their jokes in my head and thinking, “Oh man, this bit would be so much funnier if he went this direction,’’ and I really got hooked back into it. I guessed I kind of fell in love with stand-up again and kind of realized how great it can be. But I also realized, “Man, you’re going to suck, you’re going to be at the bottom rung of the ladder again.’’ And that was a really hard choice for me to make.
Boston.com: So then what’s the biggest difference between the pre-hiatus Dave Coulier and the Dave Coulier we’ll see in Boston?
Coulier: Stand-up used to be my bastard stepchild. It was really something that I used to get other things. What I mean by that is that it was a way to showcase myself in front of agents and producers and casting people in Hollywood. It was something I developed to catch the attention to be in a TV series or a movie. And it worked! … So now, I’ve learned to appreciate what stand-up means to me and that it’s an artform where you’re not using it to get anything anymore. I know that sounds selfish, but show business is tough enough and you have to be able to find a way to stick out above the crowd. Going back to it now, I have a new found appreciation. I appreciate the audiences more because it’s more of enjoying the pure artform than it is using it as a tool. I enjoy stand-up so much more now. It’s really a freeing experience for me.
Boston.com: I read on Buzzfeed that you’re really into carpentry. Is the woodchuck your sprit animal then?
Coulier: [Laughs] That’s an interesting way of putting those two thoughts together. I guess I have a certain affinity for the woodchuck because the Full House producers let me design him with a puppet maker named Randy Simper. He’s created a lot of famous television puppets, Alf and a host of others. I got to go to his creature shop with this woodchuck idea for Full House, and we created that image together. I guess I feel like I created Mr. Woodchuck with a lot of me in that character. When me, John Stamos, and Bob Saget, we did Jimmy Fallon’s show in New York last year. We reprised our Full House roles, and when Jimmy asked us to do the sketch, he said, “Can you bring the woodchuck puppet?’’ I said, “Well, my dog ate it, Mr. Woodchuck no longer has a face.’’ He said, “Aww man, that’s a shame.’’ When we got there, Jimmy presented me with this new Mr. Woodchuck puppet and then, at the end of the sketch, he said, “I want you to have this.’’ So I’ve got two of them. One of them has a face and was on Jimmy Fallon, the other has no face and was on Full House.
Boston.com: Other than stand-up, what else do you have coming up on your plate?
Coulier: I just shot a pilot for a show called Winging It, which is me actually flying my airplane around the country. I throw a dart at a giant aviation chart and wherever the dart lands we go and try to find something funny. We just shot the pilot episode and we went to Big Bear, California in search of a big bear. People will see, but it’s got lots of jokes of a guy walking around in a bear costume. We just finished that. I’m actually writing a play right now called Santa’s Shrink. It’s a week before Christmas and Santa has a nervous breakdown. I’m writing that, and we’re hoping to have that up and running on stage, we’re going to premiere it in Pittsburgh before Christmas this year. We hope. But the script’s coming together and it’s really fun and really great. I just met with the producers of Dancing With the Star. We’ll see what happens there, I’m not sure. I’m a horrible dancer, and I admitted that to them in the meeting. I don’t take dancing very seriously, so who knows. We’ll see how that goes. I’m doing a one-hour stand-up special in the next month or two, and it’s going to be called Glorified Birthday Clown and it will be my first hour stand-up special. … This set that I’ve put together is really for the Full House fans and it really plays into that legion of Full House fans out there.