Talking ‘Zero to Sixty’ and the Importance of Kindness with Bob Saget

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Whether he’s playing an iconically nerdy sitcom dad, surprising and/or delighting audiences with his onstage vulgarity, or directing films, Bob Saget has one goal in mind: he just wants to entertain. In terms of entertainment, he’s closing out 2017 strong. His new standup special Zero to Sixty just dropped today, nine new episodes of Fuller House will be released on December 22nd, and Benjamin – the dark intervention comedy directed by Saget and starring Mary Lynn Rajskub, Rob Corddry, and Max Burkholder – is nearly complete. Saget took a break from editing the film to chat with me about the unintentional timeliness of his new special, why he thinks it’s one of his cleanest to date (which is debatable), and how he’s following his father’s good example.

Whether he’s playing an iconically nerdy sitcom dad, surprising and/or delighting audiences with his onstage vulgarity, or directing films, Bob Saget has one goal in mind: he just wants to entertain. In terms of entertainment, he’s closing out 2017 strong. His new standup special Zero to Sixty just dropped today, nine new episodes of Fuller House will be released on December 22nd, and Benjamin – the dark intervention comedy directed by Saget and starring Mary Lynn Rajskub, Rob Corddry, and Max Burkholder – is nearly complete. Saget took a break from editing the film to chat with me about the unintentional timeliness of his new special, why he thinks it’s one of his cleanest to date (which is debatable), and how he’s following his father’s good example.

You mentioned that you just took a break from editing to do this interview. Are you working on Benjamin?

Yeah, right now we’re editing. We’re having a screening tomorrow night to figure out if there’s anything else we want to change about it before we put it to bed.

I know that you directed Dirty Work. Is this your second feature film as director or was there anything in between?

I did Farce of the Penguins, my dirty penguin movie with Tracy Morgan, Mo’Nique, Christina Applegate, Lewis Black, and 50 other comedians. The others were TV movies. One was called For Hope about my sister who passed away from scleroderma. But this is my third feature if you include The Penguins. It was very hard. We did a lot of night shoots. It was weird to go from my standup character to this movie, which is a completely different character, probably more like Danny Tanner on some kind of drug. It’s a real trainwreck of my multifaceted bipolarness. The closest thing I’ve done to this is a play called Hand to God on Broadway where I played a Lutheran pastor trying to exorcise the devil which was incarnate on the hand of a boy with a puppet in a Sunday school puppet camp.

Your new special is about to drop. Are you excited?

I’m really happy about this special. It happened quickly and accidentally. I was in New York doing some gigs and Brian Volk-Weiss from Comedy Dynamics contacted me and said, “Do you want to do a new special?” I said, “Sure, I’ll do that,” and he said, “Well, it turns out we’re doing it Tuesday.” I’ve been working on this hour for three years since my last special. I talked to my manager, my agent, and my publicist and they said, “You should do it. Are you ready?” I was over-ready, overripe. I did four new songs in it, which I’m happy about. It has a verbalized history, from being a little kid learning the facts of life to getting in your twenties and seeing what some guys think good relationships are with women. I was kind of ahead of the curve on it considering all of the heinous things, like the Cosby stuff, that have been happening in our culture with how we treat women. The special touches on those things. There’s a section, a story that was really prophetic, even though I didn’t realize it. One time in Cleveland I was given ‘ludes to give to a girl and the guy said I could do what I wanted with her. I said, “What are you talking about? I would never do that. You should never drug anyone, unless it’s yourself.” I don’t even think you should violate a potted plant. We haven’t even heard about the Venus fly traps who objected to what these monster producers in Hollywood did to them. I didn’t really want to deal with current events or news, but it’s impossible not to when it comes to morality. But the special isn’t just about that. It’s about me being a comedian, my mother passing away, everything. It’s an interesting special for me because it’s probably one of my cleaner ones.

It’s funny that you call this a cleaner special because I just watched it and would definitely give it a hard R.

You think so? Is it because of the thing about how they made fun of my name as a kid?

There’s that, plenty of dick jokes, some anal prison stuff, the graphic hemorrhoids story…

See, to me, that hemorrhoid story is really just about how a squirrel will eat anything. But yeah, I’m the guy who talks about a hemorrhoid being eaten by a squirrel, so you make a good point. But I know That Ain’t Right was a harder R. There are a lot of F-bombs in that one. But it’s all done to entertain, not in a malicious way. It was received pretty well. And the last one (That’s What I’m Talkin’ About) was nominated for a Grammy, which was very cool.

Where will this special be released?

It’s coming out on multiple platforms, which I’ve never done before because we’ve never been in this world before. It’s either Netflix or very few other places. This will be on Amazon, iTunes, and all the cable on-demand services, which is a new model for me. We’ll see how it does. I just want people to laugh.

You were one of the first comedians I ever interviewed. I think it was about six years ago. Back then you were talking about your interest in releasing a special direct to your website or a streaming setup where you can have more ownership over your material.

This is kind of the same idea where are you are selling individual units to iTunes or Amazon. In a way you are using them as your outlet. It’s not the same as the Netflix model where they buy it and that’s that. Comedy Dynamics let me have more control over the special — editing, producing, all of that. But you were entertained by it, right? You weren’t offended?

No, no, but to be fair, it takes a lot to offend me. I would rather see you push boundaries than play it too safe.

I definitely didn’t play it too safe.

You had a lot of raunchy sex jokes as usual, but I think they were balanced by the fact that you did address the Cosby situation, even though you didn’t plan to. It showed that you can be kind of a pervert and still aware and respectful of what’s going on in the world.

There are a lot of comedians I look up to like Colbert, Bill Maher, John Oliver, Seth Meyers. There are people who are really calling it out, really doing something special. That’s not suitable for me with the style that I do. I almost had a job where I would have been on The Daily Show. I was offered it in a roundabout way before Jon Stewart. I was a kid. I had a video show on the air and Full House. I would have had to have moved to New York with two children, work with 12 writers, I would have had to know what’s going on in the world at all times. I probably would have stopped doing all my dick jokes.

I noticed that you’ve been tweeting a lot of positive messages lately about looking out for one another and not putting up with hate.

It’s really all I care about. It’s all I was taught by my dad. One time I was hosting America’s Funniest Home Videos and my dad came on the set. I said, “Dad, what would you like to say to people?” and he took two minutes of ABC network time at 7:20 at night to say, “You’ve got to be kind to each other.” He gave this speech and said that people need to treat people the way they would like to be treated. Kindness was something that was incredibly important to him. He was 100% right. We haven’t lost kindness, but we’ve lost the people in power stressing it. We need to be kind and we need the people at the top to start being kind. I think there are people in our government, including the top guy, who are capable of being kind, but they just don’t know who they are. There are also questions of stability. Instability doesn’t create anything but chaos.

Photo by Brian Friedman.

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