If someone told you that stand-up comedy was something Bob Saget just kind of fell into after his “King of Family-friendly Television “reign ran its course, you wouldn’t be surprised, correct? Even after watching his HBO special That Ain’t Right (premiering Aug. 25; in stores Aug. 28), it’s actually still pretty easy to believe.
The truth is, the former Full House star was doing stand-up long before Danny Tanner co-hosted Wake up, San Francisco and even longer before Saget hosted America’s Funniest Home Videos for eight years. That it’s hard to believe he’s a veteran stand-up doesn’t mean Saget isn’t funny or that his special isn’t worth an hour of your time; in fact, it’s damn entertaining, if for no other reason than watching the lanky, former kindly TV dad joke about how he pinkie-fucked Kimmy Gibbler in her ass while high on NyQuil.
But you’d have to admit: It’s a cheap joke written — or barely written — to get cheap laughs. And that’s Saget’s specialty: cheap jokes. As a bulk of his material is stories revolving around his being Bob Saget — that is, the celebrity; not the private person — there are very few actual jokes in his repertoire and thus an unenviable amount of true stand-up craftsmanship.
Ultimately, this all sets up a string of easy-out jokes for Saget. Most comics don’t have a career’s worth of highly contrasting highlights that they could just push through the irreverent filter of stand-up comedy. Most comics need to find a voice, write proper jokes, shave and shape them, toil and suffer. Saget’s free to coasty.
If Florence Henderson started touring theaters armed with jokes about how she would go down on Maureen McCormick during Brady Bunch rehearsals, you bet your ass she, too, would get butts in the seats.
But regardless of his resume and of the subject matter he chooses to expound upon, Saget has great control of his audience. He knows when to pick on the crowd, when to laugh at himself and when to call back punch lines. He delivers aggressively but not angrily. He’s got an upbeat cadence, is animated, and conveys a sense of urgency that leaves the crowd hanging on his words, no matter how inconsequential.
One of the great things about his style is that while there may not be much substance to his material, he’s never in danger of falling into the hack trap.
In the end, the most engaging aspect of Saget’s stand-up is his willingness to embrace his name and his history and the fact that he’s got balls big enough to talk shit about the shows America loves while somehow remaining completely likable.