For several decades, Bob Saget has maintained a kind of dual personality in show business. On TV, he’s known as the goofy and family-friendly guy on “America’s Funniest Home Videos” or “Full House” (and more recently, the Netflix sequel series “Fuller House.” )
On stage, however, Saget has developed a reputation as a standup comic who works very blue indeed, specializing in dirty jokes and taboo topics. Actually, Saget’s act these days isn’t really that dirty, as evidenced by his latest special, “Zero to Sixty,” now available online.
In any case, the binary nature of Saget’s popular image tends to obscure his other showbiz credentials. He started out in film school and directed the 1998 comedy “Dirty Work,” with Norm Macdonald and Artie Lange, which has gone on to achieve a certain cult status in comedy circles. Saget also authored the 2014 book “Dirty Daddy” and has appeared on Broadway several times in recent years.
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Saget is currently finishing up production on his latest feature film project, the dark comedy “Benjamin,” an indie ensemble piece in which Saget stars and directs. Meanwhile, he still tours around his standup comedy act and will be appearing Nov. 30 at the Meymandi Concert Hall at Duke Energy Center in Raleigh.
Speaking from his home in Los Angeles, Saget talked to the N&O about Trump, Twitter and the enduring practical value of dirty jokes.
Q: You have this harmless TV persona but also a reputation for working blue in your standup act. Are audiences still surprised by this, or has word gotten out that the standup is different?
A: Well, you know it’s been 20 years since I was on “Full House” and “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” Then in 2007 I did this special, “That Ain’t Right,” and that was for a college audience, so it had a certain tone.
People have pinned me as working really blue, because I used to work really blue. But you know, time has gone by. I’m 61 now, I’ve got three daughters. I’m not in the mood for shock value, and anyway, there’s no shock value left.
I don’t know what the age limit for my show would be these days. If you watch “South Park” or “Family Guy” – maybe it’s around there.
Q: You didn’t even start out aiming for a comedy career, right?
A: No, I never thought I’d get into comedy. It was the furthest thing from my mind. But I loved “The Tonight Show.” I watched Johnny all the time. He was my idol when I was 9 years old. And I ended up on that show 13 times. Not that I’ve counted exactly.
He’s greatly missed. I don’t know how political he would have gotten. That would be an interesting thing to know. But luckily we have some great late-night people getting us through this crazy time. For my fix, I go to John Oliver, I go to Stephen Colbert, Bill Maher, Jimmy Kimmel. The difference is that now I’m friends with these guys.
Q: In your new special “Zero to Sixty” you mention that it’s hard to watch the news these days, with everything that’s going on. Do you get into politics much in your act?
A: I dabble in it sometimes, what’s going on in the world. But I’m trying, as you can tell from the special, to entertain people, to make them feel OK. There’s a lot of things that I’m weaving in and out right now. I’ve got some best-of type material, from my past specials. It’ll be a mixture. And I assume about 400 new things will happen by the time I get to you guys in Raleigh.
Q: Do you personally feel any anxiety over the political situation?
A: Oh, it’s horrible. I’ve felt that anxiety since before the elections. It’s so upsetting, how we’ve become this caustic society.
Right now we’re in a society where the president doesn’t understand why the North Korean leader doesn’t want to be his buddy, when he’s been calling him Rocket Man for the last six months. We’re living with elementary school dialogue.
The internet is not helping things. I wish I got my public addresses the way we used to, on the television. I don’t want to read tweets from our world leaders. I want someone to talk to me. I want someone to look into the camera and be a public servant and be a good leader.
You know, I think about my dad. He got a 4-F deferment, so he couldn’t join (the military). But he would have been drafted, and he would have fought for our country in World War II. We can’t be supporting these things that happened 50 years ago, 100 years ago.
Q: Is your particular audience reacting to the political material?
A: I’ll say something on stage and the audience will react: “Hey, hey, hey – that’s my president.” I understand that. I don’t want to offend anyone; I want to entertain people. But for right now, let’s just all laugh together and have some fun.
And I’m not trying to single out one person here. The world is split, the nation is split. I don’t want to start anything. I have respect for all kinds of people. Except for the people that hurt people.
My comedy, I’m just steam powering through it. It means so much to me. It’s an interesting world that we’re in right now. I really love the exchange that I’m having with the audience. I’ve been doing longer shows, 90-minute shows. I tell my dumb wiener jokes and hope it gets people through the day.
Q: Where are you at with “Benjamin,” your upcoming movie?
A: We’re in post-production; in rough cut for festival entry time. At the end of January we’ll have a completed project. We’re entering every festival that exists.
In the movie, I’m a dad and we think my 15-year-old son is on meth. So it’s a very serious topic and it’s done in a dark comedy kind of way. We’ve got a great cast – Rob Corddry, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Kevin Pollack, Dave Foley, Cheri Oteri. It’s a really eclectic group. We’ve been working on this seven years, trying to get it funded. It’s an ensemble movie, for sure.
Q: In your new special you have some pretty great stories about Rodney Dangerfield. What was your relationship with him?
A: I met him when I was 24, at the Comedy Store in San Diego. He came in, he was doing rehab and cleaning up at this local spa. He came in with a couple ladies on his arm and said, “I don’t know how I’m going to do this, man. No booze, no coke, no pot, no pills.” And I thought – I like this guy.
I just started hanging out with him. I stayed friends with him. I was with him the night before he went into surgery that ended his life, and then I officiated at his funeral. I have a couple of stories about him that I’ll be bringing to Raleigh.
Who: Bob Saget
When: 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 30
Where: Meymandi Concert Hall, Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh
Info: 919-996-8700 or dukeenergycenterraleigh.com