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Laughing matter

Comedian Saget buffers personal tragedy with foul-mouthed humour

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Journalism, they say, is the first draft of history. And while Bob Saget's personal memoir rarely merits the term "journalism," it does sometimes read like a first draft.

Part of the reason is Saget's attempt to write along with the reader, interjecting short bursts of ADHD-like digressions -- as if sticking with the tale were too much to bear. This might be classic comedic sleight of hand, never wanting life to get too real.

And it's understandable. Saget, the tall and affable host of America's Funniest Home Videos and star of the long-running, sugary-sweet sitcom Full House, has lived a less-than-sunny life.

The first two chapters of Dirty Daddy, his slim autobiography, are a litany of death; beloved relatives, a good number too, are taken too young. Not only did Saget's parents lose newborn twins to dysentery, but they would suffer the loss of two grown daughters. Saget's first wife also came within inches of dying while giving birth to their first child.

The reader is inclined to double-check that Saget was born in the 20th century, not the 19th -- such is the Dickensian degree of mortality. There's no doubt Saget's often very dark standup comedy is a way of dealing with the pain and grief, and he says as much.

Suffering has also given Saget a spiritual side, somewhat rare in standup. It has fostered a desire to see the best in people, to try to find some beauty in each person he encounters, even as he's confined with them for hours in an airplane.

Despite the potty level of the humorous asides (some of them pretty funny), Saget comes off as quite likable, but boy, can he be dark, as the first joke Saget wrote at age 17 demonstrates:

"I have the brains of a German shepherd and the body of a 16-year-old boy... and they're both in the trunk of my car if you want to see them."

Then there's the horrifying joke Saget cracked when his daughter was born that cannot be printed here.

Thankfully, the joke that got him kicked off the cast of The Morning Edition on CBS can. When host Mariette Hartley asked whether Bob was a type-A personality, Saget replied: "Yes, but I'm trying to work on my A-ness."

Saget was off CBS and on to ABC and the hit show Full House, although Saget claims he wasn't the first choice to play Danny Tanner, joking that that honour went to Betty White.

Sadly, the Full House chapter is barely even PG, chock full of typical showbiz tripe about how close the cast members were and what a good time was had by all. Here some gallows humour could have helped.

Still, for eight years in the late '80s and early '90s, Saget was on two top-rated TV shows at the same time -- a very rare achievement.

When the chapters on Full House and America's Funniest Home Videos conclude, it's with the realization Saget hasn't done much since: a cameo in the documentary The Aristocrats, the star of a Comedy Central roast, and a gig playing himself in the HBO series Entourage are stretched out to a full chapter.

Jeff Ross has the best line in the chapter. He is quoted as saying at Saget's roast: "In honour of the late George Carlin, here are another seven words you can't say on TV: 'And the Emmy goes to Bob Saget.'"

After finishing Dirty Daddy you could say the same about the likelihood of a Pulitzer.

Still, if you like Bob Saget -- and there's much to like -- there are worse ways to pass a few hours.

A Full House marathon comes to mind.

 

Al Rae is the artistic director of the Winnipeg Comedy Festival.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 3, 2014 G7

History

Updated on Saturday, May 3, 2014 at 7:50 AM CDT: Tweaks formatting.

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