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Bob Saget Doesn’t Just Want to Make You Laugh

The ‘Full House’ star and ‘America’s Funniest Home Videos’ host has a podcast now, and he’s trying to have both light and serious conversations with peers and his listeners

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It seems impossible that we’d discover a new side of Bob Saget at this point. After all, the man has been almost omnipresent in pop culture and comedy for more than 30 years. He played the consummate, caring family man in Full House and then reprised that role in the recent reboot Fuller House. He had an eight-year run as host of America’s Funniest Home Videos, voicing over blooper reels and inviting viewers everywhere to laugh along in their living rooms. On the opposite end of the humor spectrum, he’s done fearless and profane stand-up for decades, and played a depraved, over-the-top version of himself on Entourage that served as a counterweight to the sanitized, everyone’s-dad role he played as Danny Tanner.

Surely, we know Saget by now. But then came his new podcast: Bob Saget’s Here for You. Since the podcast launched in April, a slew of celebrity guests have appeared on the show, including Judd Apatow, Jay Pharoah, Jeff Garlin, and Jon Hamm. But while there are plenty of laughs on Saget’s show, the conversations are frequently heavy. Recently, he and Regina Hall chatted for more than an hour about the importance of compassion and the failure of American political leadership during the pandemic. There’s also a phone number listed for the pod—562-600-0343—that Saget encourages people to call and leave messages that he regularly includes in the program. That approach yielded an episode when he had conversations with people whose lives have been deeply impacted by COVID-19.

For our conversation, I had a range of topics I wanted to run by him. Alas, I never got to ask what Saget made of Lori Loughlin and Varsity Blues, or about his recurring bit on Twitter where he’ll just post random John Stamos stuff. Nor did I get to tell him that I had a dream about him the night before the interview. Well, it wasn’t about him, exactly. It was about the movie Stripes, but for some reason Saget played the Harold Ramis role. (Bob, if you’re reading this, you killed the performance and your hair looked fabulous.)

Instead, we talked a lot about what Saget talks a lot about these days: how he’s tired of all the anger and negativity in the world, and how maybe his pod can function as a coping mechanism, not just for him but for his listeners. (And Philly. We discussed Philly, too, because we’re both from there and it had to happen.)

Thanks for doing this.

Are you in Philly?

No. I’m from Philly. But I live in L.A.

Ah. I was going by the 215 area code. That’s a good, reliable area code.

That warms my heart. Congratulations on the pod.

Yeah it’s doing well. I came at doing this podcast from the most noble place I’ve done anything, except for stand-up ... But this was something that came right before the pandemic. I was only able to do two episodes in studio. It was simply done because I was out doing stand-up, traveling North America, and feeling all the dissension and pain and hatred and rhetoric that had been coming out for the last three years, or four, or more. But it really came to a boiling point. I just wanted to make people laugh and make them feel better. My fan base, or whatever you would call it—my base, I’m running for office—they feel soothed by me. It’s nice. That was the purpose of it.

I can feel people’s pain. One part of the show is people call and they leave a message and I’ll call them back. But I love talking to people. Their stories are amazing. And then I have friends. I didn’t realize I have so many friends. I’m very fortunate. So I’m getting wonderful guests. I’m not that smart or versed in many things, but I have interests and I’m earnest in my 64-year-old age and I care about people a lot. I’m trying to put more comedy into it because it gets kind of heavy. Sometimes it’s hard to punch out of the paper bag and go, “Hey, here’s a funny joke.” It’s 10 minutes of COVID material—that will be my next special.

A tight 10 on COVID. About the seriousness, the Lawrence O’Donnell episode comes to mind. You sometimes tweet about politics and voting. The conversation with Lawrence about how to avoid news fatigue was especially germane. People should go listen, but can you give us a little distilled advice on that? Because I am super suffering from news fatigue, as I suspect many people are.

It’s really true. The thing everyone is talking about today is Axios and the interview with the president. With Lawrence, I had to turn off watching the president because I couldn’t take it anymore. It’s too damaging. It’s like watching a horror movie all day long. It doesn’t mean you don’t have empathy for victims and empathy for people and [want] justice. With Lawrence … we’re friends. He does the news for a living. It’s on MSNBC. I admit I skip around all the news because I want to know how the world feels. So I watch everything—when I do it. I don’t know if you’ve ever watched A Clockwork Orange …

Eyelids pinned back

… strapped to a chair and we’re watching these images is how we’re getting fed our news. All this stuff, mostly poison, is being put into our heads. But we have to know what’s going on because we want to be educated when we go to vote, which I encourage everyone to do. The two hours is really ... we talk about the news some, but it’s just a conversation [with O’Donnell]. It’s not some big Trump-bashing festival. It’s just him as a person and us laughing. And that’s what I’m trying to do. And I get to listen.

That part is interesting, the listening. When I was going through your episodes, I read it too quickly. I thought one show was “Bob has moving conversations” and I initially thought it was about people physically moving in a pandemic, which is something I recently did, and I thought wow, “Bob really is here for me.” But you were actually having moving conversations with people impacted by COVID. Which was frankly better.

And you’re in their lives. They know you and they watched you growing up or whatever I’ve done. My stand-up, some people say, “Your stand-up keeps me going.” Or other people say, “You’re my dad growing up.” But when you call somebody—one guy said “I can’t work. My buddies were out without masks and they were partying. And one of them is in the hospital now, and they didn’t believe it, and two of them have COVID.” He was telling me his father is an amputee and he and his brother take care of their father. And it was so tragic. And he was so kind. He just wanted someone to talk to. Some people literally don’t have anyone to talk to. So here I am, some guy they know from over the TV, and they just—bam—they just open up.

When I’m done, I just go into the kitchen and my wife, Kelly, is there. And I just start crying. There’s no way not to feel it, to feel the pain people are going through. Everyone is hurting in some way. I’m a big believer in trying to be compassionate and have empathy, which is something that’s been lacking these last three years, almost four years. People have been hurting for years. But this is unprecedented.

Even with topics like that, you find a way to laugh through the tears.

I’m always trying. I get so emotional. I get told, “Bob, don’t be such a sap. You gotta do the thing.” There’s something to be said for that. Bill Burr is so great at it. He’ll talk about stuff and he’ll yell about masks. It’s a wonderful thing to be doing right now. I’m trying to have a real conversation with people I care about. Like talking to Regina Hall, whose mother has scleroderma ... I was able to refer a doctor for her and her mother is doing well now. We have a connection. She’s just a sweetheart. And talking to other people. It’s just been very, very interesting. The way the world is changing, there were episodes that happened before George Floyd’s death, and they have a whole different context. And people understand. But I threw out like nine episodes because they didn’t feel appropriate after the world changed that day. I make so many mistakes but other people do too. I walk around and have full ownership of my mistakes.

That’s something you’ve also discussed on the show, not just mistakes and the bad times, but getting through it.

[Spotify] had me featured under “laugh out loud,” I was like third down, my Whoopi Goldberg episode. Ironically, it was more of the serious episodes I ever did. That episode was Whoopi and I talking about being positive and we’re gonna get through this, even though of course it doesn’t feel like it ... I don’t know why they call it a perfect storm, but that’s where we’re at. Basically, an alien attack or locust is the next thing that could happen right now.

It’s a fascinating listen because it’s a different side of you. I’m 43 …

… you sound 25 …

… oh. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. But I’ll take it. But I feel like you’ve been an omnipresent part of American pop culture since I was a kid. Seeing this part of you is different than Full House, is different than America’s Funniest Home Videos, is different than the Entourage version.

If I had to do it all over again, I would have done all my stand-up differently. But you arrive to where you arrive. But I can’t wait to do stand-up again. I’m dying to do it. I’ve got bookings that start in November, but I don’t know if I’ll do those. I’ll have to see with the social distancing. They’re close to home in the L.A. area. But I’m dying to do it and make people laugh. But you don’t want someone to laugh and a piece of phlegm fly out and hit you in the nose. Then you’re done.

No one wants that. Like I said, I feel like you’ve been part of our cultural lives for a very long time. And as a Philadelphian, I want good things for fellow Philadelphians …

I think Jim’s Steaks. I’m just saying.

This interview was edited and condensed.