Famed comedian Bob Saget has had his fair share of the limelight. With an incredibly broad career spanning over four decades on television, film and stand-up, he’s finally casting light on his sorrow-stricken personal life littered with multiple family deaths, divorce and one too many close calls in his tell-all book, Dirty Daddy: The Chronicles of a Family Man Turned Filthy Comedian. We caught up with Saget and only brought up Full House once in passing, which means this interview is most likely the only one of its kind. Find out where you can buy your own copy of his memoir and dates of his book tour on bobsaget.com.
Playboy.com: Your memoir, Dirty Daddy, really made me understand what it was like to work as a comedian, doing stand-up in bars and clubs in the ’70s and ’80s, as opposed to the way it’s diffused now, with YouTube, Twitter and what have you.
Bob Saget: It’s interesting because people don’t even perceive comedy properly now because everything has been YouTubed out. Did you ever see the clip on YouTube where Bill Burr is bombing in Camden? I was there! It was the Opie and Anthony Traveling Virus show and I had just closed the first act because I’m a spoiled bitch about where my placement goes. So Bill went up early and I watched it on the monitor and he came back and asked if I had been watching and I said, “It looked good back here!” But he just said it was a nightmare and couldn’t figure out what happened. So I was honest and told him that it sounded like he had took it from zero to 100 and then insulted the hell out of the crowd and beat them. [laughs] But when you go back and watch it, it’s a definable piece of where he came from and what his skills were to be able to come back from that situation. Sometimes people don’t know what greatness is when they see it because it’s being presented to them in this new way.
Playboy.com: Even now, people will tweet about how you or Robin Williams or somebody will show up and do a set at some nowhere bar and within 10 minutes everybody knows about it. But before it would’ve been just this great thing to have witnessed.
Saget: Exactly. I don’t announce when I work a club in L.A. or in New York, but you’ve got to be careful even if you’re unannounced that you don’t say something where you’re trying to explore or push the envelope because as soon as you’re being taped or being tweeted about it’s all judgment. One twit—[laughs] one twit who tweets becomes someone’s review. It doesn’t make any sense. I guess democracy when it reaches viral level is a different world.
Playboy.com: It must be a pretty difficult game to play to work on new material and workshop a new set.
Saget: It is. But for me, because I’m book touring—literally I’ve just gone to a narcissistic place—boy, writing a book is narcissistic and then so is doing the press about it. [laughs] It’s so hard to not write “I” or “me” in anything I do. You know, the book really changed me. I want to hold on to how it changed me.
Playboy.com: Why do you think writing the book has changed you?
Saget: People told me it would, but I didn’t really believe it. I had something affect me like this a long time ago. In 1996 I directed this TV movie for ABC called For Hope. It starred Dana Delany and the story was based on my sister’s experience with scleroderma [a chronic systemic autoimmune disease]. So two years after my sister died, I made this film to portray the life she went through, and I ended up getting divorced a year after the TV movie got made.
I remember going on Oprah to promote the movie and Oprah saying to me, you know, this completely is going to screw your life up because once you hold your mirror up publicly with a biography—side note is that I didn’t write the film, a wonderful woman named Susan Rice wrote it, but I directed and executive produced it—but once you hold up a mirror to yourself like that and you put it out there, it changes. This is kind of the same for me. I really love this book and I wrote it so I’m excited! [laughs] It’s like I have a shiny apple! But also I have to put it all behind and move forward. It’s a true reboot because it is so personal. My three daughters love it—which is the jewel on the crown because it’s called Dirty Daddy [laughs]—because they know me and they know what it is about. I don’t want to relive anything about it. If someone asks me about myself I can just say, “Here, take this. There’s really nothing to know, there’s nothing left.” My brain is a vacuum.
Playboy.com: Writing a memoir like this, touching on a multitude of heavy topics, I could almost feel the hesitation you had typing it all out.
Saget: It was more difficult than I anticipated it would be. People told me it would be. I talked to Mary Karr, who’s a wonderful writer, and she said just to write every day, get it out there and don’t take any prisoners. What was hard for me to write were the obvious stories, like “The Loss of Two Great Women” chapter and the story of when my daughter was born and her mom almost passed away. Thank God everything ended well on that. But just going through these memories was therapeutic because you look back and say, “Wow, all of this happened to me.” Life’s a drama for everybody, mine is mine.
Then my mom passed away about seven weeks ago, so I was going through that right when I was delivering the book. We couldn’t even get back into the book because it was already going to press, but my editor, Mark Chait, let me put in something about my mother in the “about the author” note. I was going through how life was ephemeral, which is exactly what this book is about, loss. It’s a very interesting journey and I’m really happy to be on this side of it. It was really hard. I have to say, it was like the film Adaptation at times. There were those 48-hour days where I just went from the grossness of the laptop [editor’s note: the book is full of dick jokes and Saget keeps a running update of how his balls are doing from the laptop’s heat] and all of those metaphors to the really rough things I just had to write out.
Playboy.com: At least you will always have dick jokes.
Saget: I actually took in my laptop halfway through writing and got a new one that was plasma. It was so light that I took that back because I didn’t like the non-burning sensation. I just said, “I’m not being true to myself!” So I swapped it back and set up in my backyard with a cigar and that picture happened that I slipped into my book. But when I finished, I did get a new computer; that one does not do as much damage as the one that I wrote this book on does.
Playboy.com: I was reading this book on the train and I would get a couple of looks because it’s just a picture of you with the words Dirty Daddy underneath. I found myself wanting to tell everyone that it was a book that was coming out and not some weird Bob Saget fan fiction.
Saget: [Laughs] Yeah, it’s so wrong. It looks like there’s a problem, it does. The only worse title could’ve been Stranger Danger, which would be worse for your ride. I’m going on The View tomorrow. I cohosted it ages ago—I think I actually put this in the book, I had to interview E.L. James. So the night I got to New York I had to finish reading Fifty Shades of Grey. So I’m on the plane and I’ve got the hardback and that’s a damn big book so you know what it is when you’re holding it. So here I am in first class, just leafing through Fifty Shades of Grey and Ed Asner comes in and he sees me and says, “What the fuck are you reading that shit for?” and I said, “I’m doing The View tomorrow and I’m interviewing the author!” and he goes, “So? Ah, whatever. Love you!” [laughs] Mine’s a little bit less intrusive, I think. I guess that’s why people are going to buy audio and digital copies.
Playboy.com: Is this the first time you’re doing a book tour?
Saget: Yeah, I’ve never done anything like it. Well, I did a book for Random House about a billion years ago. It was a picture book and I did it with Tony Hendra. It was called Tales from the Crib. I never talked about it and nor should I have now, actually. I was on the CBS morning program before I was on Full House and they had people send pictures of their kids and we captured them. [laughs] It was kind of funny, but that’s not a book, it’s a coffee table something. This is the real deal. So tonight when we hang up I go to New Jersey and I’m going to go into a bookstore and I’m going to sit there and sign books. I’m like, “Is there security?”
Playboy.com: Do you have to stand behind a podium and read an excerpt sort of deal or are you off the hook?
Saget: I don’t think so, no. But I don’t know! I’ll probably have to welcome everybody, but there’s going to be kids there and they’re not paying so I think they’re not expecting anything. But it’s going to be weird, it’s going to be little kids coming over, taking pictures with me and I’ll be in front of this giant Dirty Daddy plaque! [laughs] It just sounds like Bad Santa, you know? Then tomorrow night I’m doing talk shows and I’m going to 92nd Street Y and that’s a thousand people talk. They’re paying not-for-profit, NPR-ish sort of thing and John Oliver is my moderator, so that’ll be a thousand of us, who want me to sign their book! I don’t know why I included myself into that thousand, but I’ll be there too. Then I have to go to Union Square.
Playboy.com: Oh wow, you’re going to get some characters there.
Saget: It’s going to be a little nutty! Then to D.C. on Thursday for a signing, then Tuesday in Chicago for two days with Roe Conn, the morning host, who is really great.
Playboy.com: I find it weird that after all these years there are still these two polar opposite versions of Bob Saget that come up when people bring you up in conversation. One is The Aristocrats Bob Saget who is extremely vulgar, and the other is the Danny Tanner Bob Saget who is, well, Danny Tanner from Full House.
Saget: I’m not trying to shake anybody or prove anything, but we’re all multifaceted. It’s so funny, you can’t pigeonhole people. This is terrible, this sounds like one of my jokes… But when you try to profile somebody and assume what this person is, it’s just not right. I’ve learned a lot, I’ve done it with people where I’d think, “Well, that person does this or that.” It just doesn’t make sense when you think someone is one thing. You look at Bryan Cranston, for example. Look at the dad on Malcolm in the Middle. Incredibly accomplished actor and did a great job on Malcolm in the Middle. It was that show, and he did that part as well as a human could. I don’t think at that moment in time if you said to people that one day he’s going to do one of the best television shows ever that will exist and play a character that’s so complex and so dark, you’d go, “Yeah, okay.” But maybe his friends would know! Maybe they would’ve seen Bryan in a play and say, “Boy, has he got levels.” So that’s nothing to prove, it’s just something that is. I’m just happy that I was able to put it in this book.
Playboy.com: What do you want these two groups of people to take away from this book?
Saget: That there’s a human being... I love that my kids love it and my mother had a chance to read 111 pages of it before she passed away. I’m glad she didn’t get much further because it’s about the things I shouldn’t have done and the relationships I’d rather not talk about. [laughs]
I guess I would want people to take away from it that they like the book. I want the book to be able to stand on its own. Personally, I made it so it’s like that joke I wrote a billion years ago which goes, “My mom said when I grow up not everyone’s going to like you, and I said, ‘I need names!’” I have them now in the book. The truth is I could have the names that don’t care or like, but I don’t need them. I put this book out into the ethos and I guess personally I would want [people to see] that I’m not either the Full House person or the diabolical, dirty Entourage or Aristocrats version. Those are all three-dimensional things. But I don’t mind playing different areas of the spectrum. That’s what you do when you’re an artist. I guess I’m calling myself one.
Playboy.com: You speak of sexual awakening reading a Playboy at 10 years old—do you remember the first Playboy you bought?
Saget: Oh my god! I think it’s in the book, isn’t it? You have the book beside you! It wasn’t at age 10!
Playboy.com: I have the uncorrected proof, so I might’ve missed it.
Saget: I confiscated them, I stole them and I put them in my pants!
Playboy.com: Yeah, but you never said which one you had in your pants.
Saget: Oh, okay, well later I had the really old ones; someone gave me my birthday copy. I was born in 1956 and someone gave me my month and year of Playboy, so May of 1956, but that was obviously not something I got then. If I could’ve gotten a copy at one year old, I would’ve walked in and gotten it, that’s how fascinated and James Bonded-out I was as a kid. I think my first one I ever saw was at my uncle Sammy’s house—he’s the handsome one that died at 37. He had them in his closet. I can’t remember which ones, but I was mesmerized. I couldn’t believe they existed and I didn’t know why they were there or what the hell they were. I didn’t steal them or hurt them in any way. I must’ve been the kid on the back of that book. I don’t remember who was on the cover, but the Annie Fanny cartoon was in there at that time, it was like three pages of that! The Vargas girls were in there too. I’d look at Playboy Party Jokes but I never really liked them. I looked at a few of them and laughed, but they always seemed to have too much officiousness to them. But I have to say, even when I was in an interview years ago with the magazine, I leafed immediately to the naked girls—I don’t even know if I read the interview I did. It’s just what you have to do.