He was in living rooms across America dishing out fatherly advice. He had a cheery disposition while watching people bite the dust or get socked in the groin. He was a phenomenal comedian. He was Bob Saget.
The Philadelphia native and comedy icon passed away unexpectedly on January 9 and left the country stunned. Bob was a figure you always thought would be around forever. There were so many nights we spent watching Bob as Danny Tanner navigate the seemingly impossible job of single fatherhood. For nine years, we watched him and his TV family grow up. We grew with them. Memories of Full House are burned into the minds of all who watched and loved him. He was a big part of so many American families’ bonding experiences, which is one reason his death was so devastating to so many.
I don’t believe there was one family, big or small, rich or poor, that didn’t grow up in the early ’90s with Bob. Aside from being America’s dad, he was also the purveyor of hilarious clips on America’s Funniest Videos. He was where you got your crazy cat videos before YouTube. The show was wildly successful because not only was he a gem of a host, but because it was a dream of so many people, myself included, to be on the show to meet him and win real money. So many Americans would gather around the one television in their homes and laugh together as a family with him. His warmth seeped through the screen. There wasn’t anyone on television who was more likable than Bob Saget.
What many people didn’t realize was that prior to his success as the everyman on their TV screens, Bob was revered as a standup comedian. He cut his teeth at the World Famous Comedy Store in Westwood during the late 1970s. He honed his craft around the greatest to ever touch a microphone. He developed an act that was regarded as one of the best in town. Some time after his shows ended, he returned to standup. That was when the world found out that he was one of the darkest and dirtiest there was. This came as a complete shock to everyone who’d thought they’d known who he was.
I found out in college in 2005 when the comedy documentary The Aristocrats came out. The film was a history of comedians telling the “world’s dirtiest joke.” The joke itself was an improvisational secret amongst comedians for the sole purpose of making each other laugh. Every telling was an attempt to beat one another with vileness and absurdity. Bob’s version of this bit was so hilarious, intricate, and dark that it’s unbelievable. I loved it so much, I can recall reciting it at parties to a mix of laughter and sheer discomfort. The more the general public became outraged, the more we loved Bob. The fact that he had such a dynamic range as a human being was another thing we revered about him.
As a comedian myself, I not only got to read the beautiful impact Bob had on the general population in mourning his passing, but by my coworkers, comics who span decades. The sentiment is universal: he was as funny as he was kind. He loved comedy and people. He helped everyone he could. He listened. He loved his family. Often in life, we don’t know how much a person means to us until they’re gone. Bob Saget was a generous and hilarious human being who will live on in our hearts forever. We could all be more like Bob.