Just like anyone who had grown up in the 1980s and 1990s, hearing TV dad Bob Saget had passed away at the age of 65 was a gut-punch. As a widowed father having to raise three daughters with the help of his brother-in-law and friend, Full House was a high-concept gimmicky move that worked.
The ABC show which was the anchor of what became TGIF on the network that helped re-define family sitcoms. Three men raising three girls presented a lot of plot devices. As Danny Tanner, Saget played the uptight, stoic, by the book father who occasionally and mostly learned to be lenient with his children. Saget wasn’t the original choice. John Posey, a character actor whose only credit had been the brilliant but awfully named crime thriller Manhunter.
But as most things go, Posey didn’t survive the pilot and Saget took over daddy duties the duration of the show. It was the right call. Nothing bad about Posey who had a very welcoming face and demeanor, but Saget just looked more pleasant. He looked like the type of father who would make sure his daughters were in bed by 9:15 p.m. sharp but would pick them up from school and surprise them with a trip to the ice-cream shop.
All of this is ironic because behind that Best Buddy Bob smile and look was one of the most filthy, vulgar comics of the era. And I’m saying this with a lot of respect. Saget could curse and swear along with some of the greats, Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Redd Foxx, Sam Kinison, Bill Hicks, etc. He even co-starred along with Pryor in the 1987 comedy Critical Condition.
But unfortunately, Full House and the ABC show America’s Funniest Home Videos, with him as host, solidified his notion as a clean-cut who told dad jokes. As a matter of fact, the jokes Saget delivered in between the videos were most the low point of the shows. It’s quite obvious looking back now more than 30 years later, Saget was playing a role as the Host Who Thinks The Shows About Him. It was a genius move. Anyone can tell a bad joke or tell a joke badly, but to tell a bad joke badly over the course of an entire show is something else.
Full House ended in 1995 right around the same time a former child actress, Alanis Morissette released “You Ought to Know” and the Internet was becoming more popular as rumors spread that Morisette, only 21 at the time, wrote the song about her relationships with Saget and Full House co-star Dave Coulier. Saget was now being known more than his clean-cut image.
After he left America’s Funniest Home Videos, he teamed up with fellow comic and friend, Norm MacDonald, to direct Dirty Work. The movie was supposed to be rated R but studio pressure forced it to be trimmed to get a PG-13 rating even though you can see where some of the racier material was cut and where other material was going.
As luck would have it, Dave Chapelle and others were filming the stoner comedy Half-Baked in Toronto the same summer of 1997 and were even staying at the same hotel and hanging out together. Saget would play a cameo in Half-Baked as a cocaine addict who criticizes Chapelle’s character for being a marijuana addict when he used to have to perform oral sex on men for cocaine. Hearing a TV dad saying, “I used to suck dick for coke,” probably made many viewers laugh considering they had grown up watching him.
Saget shed his clean-cut image in the 2000s and took over narration for the hit TV show How I Met Your Mother. As he returned to his dirty roots, fans who couldn’t stand his awful jokes on AFV were now re-discovering him again.
But despite all the F-bombs and the sex jokes, people said Saget was still a nice guy at heart as there are many stories from other celebrities. No one is perfect and most people had real dads similar to Red Foreman than Danny Tanner. But that doesn’t mean either one wasn’t a loving, caring parent. Those producers of Full House knew what they were doing back in 1987.