TV Article

What about Bob?

The ''Full House'' star and host of ''America's Funniest Home Videos'' wants to escape his sugar-sweet persona

What do you do when you know and your wife knows and your manager knows and all your comedian friends know that you're a wild man! A sharp-tongued riot! The biggest panic who's ever worked a microphone! But most of the world knows you as Danny Tanner, the simp-nice widowed dad on the indefatigably popular family-com Full House? What do you do when Full House is retiring after eight years and you've made a mountain of dough and you're still host of the indefatigably lowbrow America's Funniest Home Videos, from which you continue to make a mountain of dough, but what you really want is to be crazy and foulmouthed and as on-the-edge funny as you know you've got it in you to be?

When you're Bob Saget, you scramble to explain that although the G-rated world has been very, very good to you, you are in fact a freewheeling R-rated guy, and now, dammit, you're finally going to prove it.

''I have a reputation for being the sickest f--- in the comedy world,'' Saget says proudly, like a guy secretly enjoying nipple clamps under his Polo shirt. ''I love the idea — and it's not common in American comedy — of pushing someone antagonistically and being so obnoxious that they break. The idea is, you don't stop. The problem is, it repels a lot of people.'' On this sunny spring morning at a PG-rated Santa Monica cafe, Saget, 39, is looking at a plate of eggs and a dilemma: how to find a format in which to simultaneously repel and attract.

''I'm very conceptual and very quirky and very weird and very Tourette's-like,'' he says — a style that does not often translate well on the small screen. ''On television I can't say that what I think is funny, is that, like, at Disneyland, 'It's a Small World' should be like a shooting gallery.'' He starts to sing: '''It's a world of BAM! It's a world of BAM!''' He smiles his cute, I'm-a-father-of-three-girls grin. ''I want to do a film thing, something really, really funny, kind of combining my stand-up stuff with acting. Otherwise, I think some of my best stuff may end up being behind the camera. You know. Catering.''

Eighteen years ago, when he and buddies Garry Shandling and Dave Coulier, his House costar, were working the L.A. comedy clubs and Saget was making a name for himself as a juggler of free-associative commentary, he was influenced by the unhinged comedy of the late Andy Kaufman. Saget's stand-up routine was pinball-ish. His bank account was low. A 1987 stint as Funny Cohost on CBS' Morning Program fell apart after six months (the show fell apart after 11). When Full House came along, it seemed like a good idea.

''I told him to take the job,'' admits Brad Grey, Saget's friend and longtime manager. ''But in terms of Bob's potential, it wasn't the best forum to show that.''

''He hates being corralled into being G-rated Bob,'' seconds Coulier. ''When he and I get together, it's totally scatological poop talk. No body part is left unturned.'' The liberated Saget recently hosted Saturday Night Live, during which he advertised his freedom from the tyranny of Danny Tanner and the Olsen twins by throwing the word wiener into his opening monologue. He makes occasional stand-up forays at clubs. Bummed after bombing recently, he turned to Sherri, his wife of 13 years, and said, ''Let's go home and look at the bank statement.''

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