Every famous person has one subject he or she is always asked about.
If you are Bob Saget, people ask how a comic who loves to tell dirty jokes dealt with being on a sappy sweet sitcom for so many years.
Saget, of course, is best known for playing Danny Tanner on “Full House” as well as hosting America’s Funniest Home Videos. The success of those family-friendly shows created a squeaky clean image — an image shattered by, among others things, a splendidly raunchy appearance in a cult film, “The Aristocrats,” and by playing a decadent version of himself on the HBO’s series “Entourage.”
The contrast worked. Seeing Saget, 60, as a drug-addled, misogynistic Hollywood dirtbag was a delightful shock for audiences. Yet he now had two distinctly different public personas, neither of which really captures him.
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Saget, for instance, is also a director, who just announced that he will helm and star in a feature film, “Jake,” set to shoot this fall. He’s a stage actor, most recently starring in a nine-week run on Broadway of the Tony-nominated “Hand to God.”
He had his own A&E documentary series, “Strange Days With Bob Saget,” and has written a New York Times best-seller, “Dirty Daddy,” about this intersection of comedy and pain. Another big credit often overlooked is his work as the voice of Ted Mosby on “How I Met Your Mother.”
“That show was really a love letter,” Saget said.
His greatest love, though, is for stand-up comedy. Which is what will bring him to KC. “I’ve been working for a couple of years on a new hour special, wanting to get the material right. And I actually love Kansas City, like, insanely.”
Suspicious of a Hollywood snow job, I asked why. “Jack Stack,” he said, laughing. “And the place in the gas station.” Then, more sincerely, “And Johnny Dare is a friend. He came to see my play (‘Hand to God’) in New York.” (Dare has had a morning show on 98.9 The Rock since 1993).
A lot of celebrities don’t like interviews. At best, they tolerate the press, putting on a slick, happy face for the sake of self-promotion. During our 45-minute phone call, Saget couldn’t have been more different.
As he drove to a taping of “Fuller House,” the Netflix reboot of his famed sitcom, he was relentlessly friendly and seemed not only grateful for the publicity, but genuinely engaged in the conversation. He listened, cracked wise and laughed at my bad jokes. Often he spoke quite tenderly, and seemed unusually interested in being understood.
Maybe Saget has been softened by pain. He has suffered his share of family loss, including a sister, Andi, who died at 34, and another sister, Gay, who suffered from scleroderma, a skin disease that took her life at 47.
Saget says he does a benefit three times a year for the Scleroderma Research Foundation. His group has raised over $35 million for the foundation, and he lovingly describes the talent he’s enlisted, mentioning Jimmy Kimmel, Jim Gaffigan and John Mayer, among others.
“It’s beautiful, it really is,” he says.
The humor on this new tour is more personal, he said. He even deals with the death of his mother in 2014. “I’m trying to be as real as I can.”
A self-described “personality comic,” Saget shies away from political humor.
“I have a couple of jokes that are politically oriented, but it just sickens me to do them,” he explains.
“First, when you are going to make a special, you want it to be evergreen.” Moreover, he said, politics divides an audience. “It’s been so painful to watch the evil and anger (of the current election), and I just don’t want to talk about it. People want to relax. They want to be entertained. And I’ve just never been a person that was political or religiously savvy. Except for the fact that I was born Jewish. That gives me 10 circumcision jokes.”
You could almost hear him waiting for the rimshot.
“I just love it,” he says of stand-up touring. “I love performing. I love the people. I sound like Liza Minnelli right now, don’t I?”
He didn’t. He sounded abundantly human.
For those who like their comedy down and dirty — very dirty. 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 18. Arvest Bank Theatre at The Midland. MidlandKC.com. $39.50-$55.