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Bob Saget delivered one of the great postmodern performances as America’s Funniest Home Videos host

  • On America's Funniest Home Videos, Saget was "a raunchy comedian trapped in an endless 'family-friendly' montage of nut shots, begging hack writers to save him," says Miles Klee, in a tribute to the late comedian and actor, who died on Sunday at age 65. "For AFHV, Saget was required, like on Full House, to present a harmless side, guiding the audience from one catastrophe to the next, the smiling, PG-rated emcee for a thousand compilations of testicular injury," says Klee. "The producers added wacky sound effects to each snippet, but none could match Saget’s wry narration and color commentary. And then, between videos, it would be just Saget, standing in the liminal nightmare of a half-finished living room set, doing a Beckett-level postmodern performance of the guy who made a Faustian bargain in Hollywood. On the surface, he became all slick charisma, but underneath, there was a gorgeous strain of sardonic self-loathing, arched-eyebrow smarm and can-you-believe-this-sh*t winking. His attitude ranked among the most subversive stuff on network TV at the time. Where Garry Shandling had sledgehammered the fourth wall with It’s Garry Shandling’s Show and The Larry Sanders Show, Saget secretly embodied the duality of being one person and playing another, or showed that such contradiction is the truth. He’s remembered by his fellow comics as one of the kindest in the business, and this, no doubt, is how he wound up doing Full House and America’s Funniest Home Videos — he realized you could justify your naughtiness by being, actually, nice."


    • An emotional Jimmy Kimmel struggled to hold back the tears in his late-night tribute to Bob Saget: “I’m sorry, I taped this like 14 times,” Kimmel said in his Jimmy Kimmel Live! tribute to Saget that he decided to tape without an audience. Kimmel noted that Saget was special not because of Full House or his standup comedy, but because of who he was as a person. “Bob was the sweetest," said Kimmel. "He was the sweetest man. I have so many wonderfully kind and supportive texts and emails and calls from Bob. He always had a compliment. He’d write sometimes just to tell me he loved me and I know he did that for many people… He had something funny to say about everything and nothing bad to say about anyone. Never.”
    • Danny Tanner's hugs were a key part of Saget's Full House character: "Bob Saget was 30 years old when he gave his first hug as Danny Tanner, the clean-freak, embrace-prone widower raising three daughters with his best friend and brother-in-law in ABC’s Full House," says Yvonne Villareal. "He’d give roughly 10 trillion more from 1987 until the show’s end in 1994: Before 'virtual hugs' became part of the text lexicon, there was Danny Tanner on TV. Though there were plenty of beloved TV dads before him, and plenty since, it’s hard to overestimate how Saget’s displays of affection on Full House, beamed into the living rooms of millions of homes, soothed a generation of young viewers — even the cool ones who mocked the corniness." Ahead of the 2016 premiere of Fuller House, Saget said of Danny Tanner showing affection: “I didn’t know I was being called the biggest geek in the world while it was happening or that I would be revered as the guy who loved hugging. I came up with that. I made him a hugger. That was one of my contributions.”
    • Saget's filthiness as a standup comedy makes his acting work on Full House even more stellar: "The Full House projects added another dimension to what had become Saget’s public persona, but they didn’t erase his association with Danny Tanner, approachable sportscaster and caring father," says Jen Chaney. "If anything, they made it possible to appreciate what he did on Full House more because it was so far afield from his own instincts as a comic. The most important quality that Saget needed to bring to Danny wasn’t quick-wittedness or perfect timing, though Saget had both. It was sincerity. No matter how corny the dialogue or situations he found himself in, it was imperative that the audience believe Danny was a genuinely good man raising his daughters with supreme love and care in a land where the filthiest jokes were 'Oh Mylanta!' and 'You got it, dude.' As goofy as Full House could be, a lot of kids — maybe kids who had negligent dads or no dads at all — watched it and saw, in Saget’s version of fatherhood, a model of parenthood that brought them comfort for a half-hour a week. There was value in that. Saget certainly saw that value, too, as evidenced by his enthusiastic participation in the Fuller House reboot that ran on Netflix from 2016–2020. While Saget was obviously acting when he played Danny, the affection and sincerity he displayed in both series didn’t seem like a stretch. They seemed like an extension of who he was."
    • Saget embodied contradictions with his bawdy standup act: "Yet through them, he was perhaps entertainment’s consummate father figure," says Amanda Wicks. "Many kids grow up understanding their parents from one perspective, only to realize, in time, that moms and dads have desires, needs, and even personalities outside of the expected strictures. Saget was a reminder that humans are so much more than any one script. We do—and can and should—play all sorts of roles."
    • Saget's dirty mouth was a wholesome gift: "There was something wonderful about the shocking way a straight-laced TV sitcom father could turn into the Dostoevsky of filth," says Travis M. Andrews, adding: "All this kindness — both the golly gee television persona and the grace he showed in his private life — only served to sharpen the blade of his comedy. It felt incongruous watching Saget, knowing twinkle in his eye, say the most disgusting things imaginable. It didn’t make sense. It was like watching a cat bark or a dog meow. Even when you expected him to tell a dirty joke, there was always some part of your brain thinking, Oh my God, that’s Danny Tanner!"
    • Entourage creator Doug Ellin recalls enlisting Saget to play a hooker-loving womanizer: “We had lunch and he said, ‘I’ll do anything you say except for play broke. Hookers or drugs? Yeah, that’s fine. But I don’t want to be broke,'" says Ellin, who described Saget as “gracious, sweet and incredibly smart.” “There was no sensitivity to anything else, but being successful was important to him."
    • George Wallace remembers his four-decade-plus friendship with Saget: "Bob was my friend for more than 42 years," says Wallace. "To truly honor him, fight the sadness and come with the laughter. It was his gift to find humor in darkness. Trust me, he’d already have a joke written about you. He always had a smile, the best smile — I recommended my dentist to him, and the rest is history. We got a chance (in August 2020) to reminisce when I did his podcast (Bob Saget’s Here for You), and we shared some of our favorite moments as we were coming up in comedy in the early days. We also talked about the weight of the world. He was always conscious and wanted to bring mankind forward and help make the world better. We both just wanted to put a smile on people’s faces. Only Bob Saget would go die in the Happiest Place on Earth. Good one, you twisted mofo. Hey, Bob, I’m already missing you. Forward your heaven Hmail.com address ASAP. Love you, my friend!"
    • Tom Bergeron says when he hosted America's Funniest Home Videos, Saget was especially supportive: Saget showed up for AMFV's 20th anniversary and for Bergeron's final day. "It meant the world to me," Bergeron told E.T. of Saget's support. "A couple years prior to that, when the video show was having its 20th anniversary, I said to Vin Di Bona, the executive producer, I said, 'We have to get Bob for that.' So we were already friends at that point and I have to admit, I really worked him hard. I went to one of his Scleroderma Foundation benefits and wooed him a lot. He was still somewhat hesitant and he had a sitcom on ABC briefly ... and the network asked if I would do promos with Bob, which I was happy to do but I figured here's my attempt to blackmail him. So I said, 'All right, Bobby, I will do the promos but you've got to do the 20th anniversary special with me,' and he finally relented and it turned out to be just a wonderful episode that the team titled 'The Summit With Saget.' And I told Bob, I said, 'Listen, look. You just do whatever you do. I will get us to the videos, I will get us to the commercial breaks.' If you see that show, you see me just laughing, just spending the hour just enjoying that lovable lunatic that he was."
    • Watch Bob Saget's final interview, from last Wednesday with Orlando radio station Real Radio/WTKS-FM
    • Conan O'Brien posts his 2007 Full House San Francisco Late Night sightseeing tour with Saget: "I’m seeing so many lovely memories of Bob today," Conan tweeted. "He was extraordinarily sweet, genuine, and always generous with his talent. My heartfelt sympathy to Bob’s family and his fans all around the world."

    TOPICS: Bob Saget, ABC, America’s Funniest Home Videos, Entourage, Fuller House, Full House, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Conan O'Brien, Doug Ellin, George Wallace, Jimmy Kimmel, Tom Bergeron, Standup Comedy