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Bob Saget on why working for the Man ain’t so bad

Bob Saget

ANTHONY JENKINS/The Globe and Mail

Bob Saget is equally famous as a foul-mouthed comic and the world's best father on the hit family television series Full House. It's a wide gap, but the author of the new memoir Dirty Daddy says the explanation is simple – he's an actor. Here, Saget – who will appear at Bluesfest in Ottawa on July 12 – shares some of the secrets to his success, including why working for the Man ain't so bad.

It's okay to be funny at a funeral

When I was nine years old everything in my family started to fall apart. My dad lost one of his brothers to a heart attack [he would lose another two brothers in the next couple of years]. He would make jokes because even with all of this sadness, he wanted to keep us happy. It wasn't irreverent humour or anything, just simple stuff. I remember we were driving to my uncle's funeral and my dad was making up songs about whatever he saw on the street. Later we were sitting shiva and my dad would take a tiny piece of whatever food it was we were eating, like he would put one pea on your plate and say, "This is all you get." My dad was a child of the Depression, so I think he realized that things could always be worse. He would pretend that we were eating rations. It worked. We would laugh.

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Comedy is a marathon

Rodney Dangerfield was a huge part of my life and my career. I actually officiated at his funeral. I remember a piece of advice he gave to me and it's the same advice I give to any young comic – just go like a tank. Those are Rodney's words. Everybody's going to try to stop you, nobody wants you to make it – they want to make it. That's how this business works, so just think about your own stuff and work as hard and you can and then just keep doing that. The amount of years that it takes is longer than people understand or expect. People know these famous comedians and yes, there is a lot of natural talent, but none of them would have made it if they hadn't had the work ethic. Louis CK took 20 years to get started and look at where he is now.

Don't knock the Man – you may need him

In the eighties I was trying to make it as a comic. I did a certain type of material. People are curious about why I took the role on Full House and the answer is simple – I had no job. I had a new baby and I wasn't getting calls to be in edgy movie projects. I'm an actor and I was thrilled to play a character who was earnest and who loved his kids. I added some of my own touches to Danny Tanner's personality – I made him a neat freak and a hugger. It was a great job, what was I going to say? 'I'm an edgy comic, I'm going to be like Lenny Bruce?' No way! Work for the man – you bet I will. It's strange to me that people are confused that I can have these different aspects to my career and my personality. I guess it's a giant compliment because Full House was such a staple of people's youth that they can't believe that I'm not that guy.

Bang the drum you've got

My comedy is really about relationships – dating, getting hurt by women, your mother, your father, your kid. I'm like an R-rated Cosby. I have never really done politics or current events. It's just not what I do. People could ask Jerry Seinfeld – why don't you do politics? The answer is, you bang the drum that you've got. You wouldn't expect Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert to do jokes about dating. I really had no schematic for anything, this is just what I fell into and it worked for me. Why question it?

How to handle hot material, Saget style

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I know comics who do those jokes that cross the line – too soon, too offensive, whatever. I think that's an important part of comedy, it's just not for me. Maybe I might get a little bit topical, but I'll do it in my own sort of goofy way. Like I'm going to Australia next week, actually to Perth, which is about 2,000 miles from where they think Malaysian plane wreckage might be. [My joke is], what if I find it? What if I get into a boat and I paddle out there and I find it? Can you imagine! That would be one hell of a tweet. I think that's a pretty innocent treatment. It's still not totally innocent I guess because it's a tragedy and you're using it to get laughs, but that's sort of where I fall.

This interview has been edited and condensed by Courtney Shea.

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