Bob Saget was no Sidney Poitier. He didn’t win an Oscar and was no Civil rights icon. As an actor and as a human rights advocate, he was not in the same league as Mr. “To Sir with Love.”
He was just a dad on TV and in real life, a Funniest Home Video host and a voice-over presence on How I Met Your Mother. He endured over the decades, however, popping up everywhere like Zelig, even unmasking on The Masked Singer. He made it to 65 and then died on the road after a long career on TV and in comedy clubs.
Why then, the big chill after his death, on a weekend that also saw the passing of movie star Poitier and sitcom pioneer and former network executive Dwayne Hickman (The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis)?
Saget just always seemed to connect with viewers in a relatable, approachable way. Maybe it was the lop-sided grin, or the fact that he looked like your dentist.
And not just in North America. Podcast guest Hamza Haq, star of Transplant, tells a story in last week’s Brioux.tv episode about bumping into Saget at an airport. Haq was a young teen, newly arrived in Canada, who grew up in Saudi Arabia. That’s where Full House had been in full rotation on Middle East television. Haq summoned up the nerve to ask for a photo. Saget was happy to oblige.
I was working at TV Guide Canada back in the late-‘80s, early ‘90s when Saget was appearing on two ABC shows at once. He played a character on the San Francisco-set Full House opposite John Stamos and Dave Coulier and the Olsen twins. Then he was his flip self on America’s Funniest Home Videos, where he took lines written by Alan Thicke’s half-brother Todd and sold each one with a smirk.
Saget, we later learned, was far from his PG TV persona when working the comedy clubs. That’s where he shocked audiences with his blue material. Some of that could be witnessed in the 2001 movie “The Aristocrats,” where Saget and fellow comics such as Don Rickles, George Carlin, Gilbert Gottfried, Chris Rock, Howie Mandel, Drew Carey, Sarah Silverman and others tried to top each other by telling what many consider the world’s dirtiest joke.
Saget cleaned things up for his many late-night appearances. He was on speed dial as a guest for Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Jay Leno and Craig Ferguson. Comedians loved him, including Norm Macdonald, who asked Saget to direct his cult effort “Dirty Work.” Saget could take a joke, too, especially at the Comedy Central Roast of Bob Saget. Macdonald stole that show, and then ended with a heartfelt salute to his comedy peer.
Saget hosted his own podcast and was a welcome guest on others, memorably with Marc Maron and Joe Rogan. He seemed equally at home sitting in with Howard Stern.
One of his most memorable appearances for me was in Judd Apatow’s 2018 documentary “The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling.” Apatow tweeted that “when you left Bob you were always happy.” Saget was very emotional in that documentary, saddened by the bitter, litigious division between two close friends, Shandling and former manager Brad Grey.
“He spoke about how life was short and how we need to love each other while we can,” tweeted Apatow. “We all loved Bob so much.”
Thank you for being such a joy in this world.— The Masked Singer (@MaskedSingerFOX) January 10, 2022
RIP Bob 🤍 pic.twitter.com/8fwIbBWcjs