In case you weren’t aware of who Bob Saget is, he made his identity known within the opening minutes of his stand-up show Saturday at the UC Theatre, immediately diving into jokes about his past career. What followed was multiple reminders from Saget that his claim to fame is because of his eight years spent playing the tame, relentlessly clean and all-around PG-rated dad, Danny Tanner, on the hit family sitcom, “Full House.”
In stark contrast, Saget’s stand up set was fully R-rated, holding nothing back in the realm of vulgar topics. His hour-and-a-half set included jokes revolving around death, drugs and a copious amount of sex, all delivered through expletive-driven speech.
He acknowledged his overly crude manner, claiming he is only this noticeably lewd in contrast to the mild character he is known for. Saget actively tried to get away from his TV persona. Yet, he reminded the audience of it repeatedly, in a conflicting dynamic that got in the way of itself.
Much of his vulgarity came off as crude for the sake of being crude, as many jokes lacked any sort of deeper substance. He acknowledged this arbitrariness, stating, “There was no reason for that” throughout the night. And, while some of these jokes contained enough inherent humor to achieve audience acclamation, most of them missed the mark and fell flat in earning any reaction.
If this excessive crudity was not indication enough of his desire to separate himself from his past work, his frequent addressing of his time on “Full House” certainly was. In this clash of opposing aims, Saget undermined both tactics. It was never clear whether he wanted you to know he was Danny Tanner for eight years or whether he wanted you to forget it. Yet, his inability to get away from “Full House” was likely for the best, considering some of his best jokes were a direct result of his connection to the popular show.
Despite the messy groundwork, Saget’s show did not go without its memorable and successful moments. Saget thrived the most with jokes about his family and his place within Hollywood. His constant name dropping of Hollywood figures made for successfully comedic insights into the world of show business.
Meanwhile, the bits about Saget and his family were even more effective. In what was the most noteworthy moment of the night, Saget told the story of his mother’s recent death. In what he referred to as the “show’s moment for sadness,” he was able to posit death as an extremely humorous situation. Here, Saget walked the line between going too far and just far enough, and it was his restraint that made this moment so successful.
Saget also showed strength through audience interaction. Some of the funniest jokes came from calling out people in the audience — for instance, mocking specific individuals’ reactions — and returning to these interactions throughout the show. This improvisation based upon the specificity of the show’s audience was highly effective and resulted in the most collectively successful reactions.
The last 30 minutes of the set were dedicated for Saget’s musical segment. Saget brought out his guitar and proceeded to launch into a string of parodies — well-known songs such as “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond and “Blister In the Sun” by Violent Femmes, but with his own jokes as the lyrics. While this could have been an interesting addition to the comedic set, it instead made for a drawn-out lull of an ending. Instead of playing one or two hilarious songs, he played five or six, all of which were only about half as humorous as intended.
Saget’s inability to find consistency in his own set resulted in a significant disparity amongst the audience, as those who found humor in his arbitrary crudeness did not connect with his jokes rooted in significance, and vice versa. His lack of footing is disappointing, as some of the show’s moments lived up to the expectations of an iconic actor, but they only served to emphasize the night’s lost potential.