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Hamptons Life

Oct 22, 2019 12:04 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Bob Saget To Perform At Suffolk Theater

Oct 22, 2019 12:20 PM

Can’t get enough of Bob Saget?

Fans are in luck because there’s plenty of Bob Saget to go around.

Earlier this year, Saget’s film “Benjamin” was released on DVD and streaming via Redbox as the first Redbox Original. Next month comes the debut of “Nashville Squares,” a “Hollywood Squares”-style game show on CMT that Saget hosts. Before the end of the year, the final season of the “Full House” follow-up series, “Fuller House,” begins on Netflix, and then early in 2020 comes “Videos After Dark,” ABC’s adult-oriented spinoff of “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”

That’s not all. On Saturday, October 26, Saget takes the stage at Suffolk Theater in Riverhead for a night of stand-up comedy, which, like “Videos After Dark,” is intended for an adult audience. Though many remember Saget as TV dad Danny Tanner on “Full House” and as the first host of “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” Saget didn’t transform from family-friendly to a blue comedian. In fact, he explained during an interview last week calling from his home in Los Angeles, it was quite the opposite.

“People are like, ‘Oh boy! How could Danny Tanner turn so weird?’” he said. “It’s like, ‘I’m sorry I won a radio contest at 17 with a song about bondage.’”

He continues to incorporate comedy songs into his stand-up act, and his appearance at Suffolk Theater will be no exception.

With all that he has going on, Saget said he hasn’t been this busy in 20 years. “And it’s getting busier too.”

He began touring in earnest about three years ago. “I’m on the road because I love stand-up,” he said. “It kind of runs parallel to politics, the climate, how people are feeling about the world. I just felt like I was needed. I just want to be funny. I don’t want to offend anybody, and I don’t want to talk about politics.”

That’s not to say he’s cleaned up his act.

He said he’s always had weird material, but now his act is like ethics class meets Lenny Bruce.

“I’m not comparing myself to Lenny Bruce. He was the pioneer for everything we have, and freedom of speech was the whole point,” Saget said. “So I’m still crossing lines sometimes or saying something that’s inappropriate.”

He explained that he may apologize to the audience as he sets up a joke or premise and then apologize again on the way out of it.

Saget said he admires comedians like his friends Dave Chappelle and Bill Burr, who can say things they aren’t supposed to say by today’s standards in the face of all the censors in the world. And there’s no question that Chappelle’s last Netflix special, “Sticks & Stones,” was anything short of brilliant, he said.

In that hour, Chappelle talks about how sensitive audiences have become, “cancel culture” and what he calls “celebrity hunting season.” And Chappelle goes on to make the exact type of jokes — on topics such as transgender people and alleged victims of Michael Jackson — that get comedians in hot water in 2019.

Saget said it reminds him of being a kid in school and being told by the teacher what not to say and what not to talk about: “Certain people obsess over saying what they’ve been told not to say.”

He noted that he obviously sympathizes with people going through difficulties and being ridiculed. And he has been on the receiving end himself, having had rocks thrown at his head and “being called a Jew,” he added. But people get offended incredibly easily right now and some comedians’ jobs, in their minds, is to talk about the topics that offend, he said. “Some don’t know how to do it, but they’re not the ones that we would sit here and talk about.”

“I loved the special because it was the elephant in the room, as far as I’m concerned, as far as comedy goes and what they expect of him,” Saget said of “Sticks & Stones.”

“All comedians do it in a different way. Sarah Silverman does it in a different way. … It takes a different kind of person to be a comedian and not everything is for everybody,” he said. “And then you find a comedian that is for you.”

Saget called Patton Oswalt one of the most eloquent comedians. “He’ll make a point and it makes you think, and he’ll make you laugh, and I love that,” he said. “I’m more thoughtful than I used to be. I’m changing as I get older, and that’s where the ethics come in.”

The way he sees himself, he’s an entertainer, he said. “I have an old-school mentality about it. I want people to leave and feel like they were completely entertained. And I also try to say some poignant things, and I sneak that stuff in there. And that’s not that easy to do, especially if it’s about racial tension.”

He also talks about things that he has gone through in his own life.

“Usually, it’s personal stuff. So I’m not out there giving speeches of what I believe,” he said. “All I believe in is human decency and kindness. The things that you hear peacemaking-type people say is ‘being able to have a dignified discourse.’”

On why his show is like an “ethics class,” Saget said it comes during his interactions with the audience. Someone in the crowd will say something misogynistic, he’ll criticize that audience member for it, but then he’ll say something misogynistic himself — and quickly take it back.

“People are very sensitive, and understandably, but also, we got to lighten up,” Saget said. “We have to, because everybody’s going to end up with kidney stones and heart problems. We’re all too tense. There’s young people passing away from heart attacks. It ain’t good. We can’t live in fear.”

Among the projects that Saget has in the works is a documentary on Martin Mull, a comedian whose television roles have included Barth Gimble on parody talk show “Fernwood 2 Night,” Leon Carp on “Roseanne” and Vice Principal Willard Kraft “Sabrina the Teenage Witch.”

“He’s brilliant, and he’s a great artist,” Saget said. “That’s really what the movie is going to be about, is his painting.”

Mull also released several albums of comedy songs in the 1970s, and that’s how he became a hero and inspiration to Saget.

“There’s a specific thing that makes a good comedy song so it’s not just, like, here I am telling jokes with a guitar,” Saget said. “That’s not what it is, because I like to write the actual music. Even though I’m not that accomplished a guitar player at all.”

He was 14 when he started songwriting. “I wrote a couple of comedy songs, but I never did anything with them. I didn’t perform,” he said.

He was living in Pennsylvania in his late teens, the same state where he was born.

“When I was 17 I went up and did a radio contest in Philly, and I won the radio contest,” he said. “I sang a song about bondage.”

That led to Saget performing in clubs in downtown Philadelphia. “And then I started doing group comedy with some friends from University of Pennsylvania, even though I went to Temple,” he said. “And then I went to film school. So I was always doing three things at the same time. And then I came out to L.A. because I won the student Oscar for a movie I had made. And then the owner of The Comedy Store, Mitzi Shore, said, ‘You gotta work here.’ So I worked there as an emcee.”

He stayed there for eight years as he tried to find a job, he said. “And so stand-up just kind of happened, and it was just an accident. I was all comedy music.”

He got a job as the warm-up comedian for tapings of “Bosom Buddies,” a sitcom by the same production company that would eventually make “Full House.”

“It’s really interesting where your career goes, because it took me about 10 years to get anything going,” Saget said. “And then I wound up on a CBS show that I got fired from for being too hot for morning TV, and then ‘Full House.’ And then the video show a year later.”

Despite his film and television career being as busy as it ever has been, Saget has no plans of setting aside his live shows: “There is something about performing and being in front of a live audience and not taking them out of their lives, but kind of putting them into them. … No matter what people believe in, no matter who they believe in, no matter where their beliefs are politically, religiously, ethically, I just love bringing the room together. And I try to put on a show. The last half hour is music. So it’s comedy songs, and I’ve got a bunch of new ones. There’s something about it so I’m just gonna keep touring.”

Bob Saget performs Saturday, October 26, at 8 p.m. at Suffolk Theater, 118 East Main Street, Riverhead. Tickets are $65 and $69. Call 631-727-4343 or visit suffolktheater.com.

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