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The Real Bob Saget: Life Beyond 'Videos'

July 29, 1990|IRV LETOFSKY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Bob Saget is bright and gangly, with a quick smile and easy jokes. He loves his wife (whom he met in high school) and their two little girls (ages 3 and 8 months) and probably loves kitties and puppies and all living things, and they probably love him back.

On "Full House" he plays a beloved dad who anguishes over doing just every little thing right for his kids. On "America's Funniest Home Videos," he joshes our silly other sides.

By cynical Hollywood's competitive standards, by which happiness often is measured by somebody else's failure, Bob Saget might well be one of the most hated, despised and loathed men in town. And, as if two big-hit series weren't enough, he now has "HBO Comedy Hour: Bob Saget-In the Dream State," which premieres Saturday at 10:30 p.m.

And despite this incredible run of success, he really really really wants to direct. Saget orchestrated the special-half standup comedy and half a surrealistic dream sequence very closely based on his home life; only the names were slightly changed.

He played the tape for daughter Anna. "She said all the stuff that Audrey (on the show) says. She watched it and she said, 'That Audrey, she talks just like me.' I said, 'You wrote that part, honey."'

Wife Sherri ("my Yoko Ono"), a probate and estate planning attorney now semi-retired to homemaking and joke writing, came up with a concept for the special and helped edit. "She writes memos and sticks them all over the walls," Saget said.

He has always wanted to direct. He studied it at Temple University and won a student Oscar in 1979 for "Through Adam's Eyes," a documentary he wrote, directed and edited.

When he co-hosted "The Morning Program," on CBS with Mariette Hartley, he produced 40 2-minute videotaped comedies, 30 of which got on the air.

The day before the interview, he had spent about a dozen hours, until 2 in the morning, watching over the editing of his special at Pacific Video. Over the communal chicken lunch that the video company lays out every noon for the staff and visiting crews, he talked on and on and on about who is the real Bob Saget.

The standup is not me, said the veteran of 15 years in the standup comedy halls. "Well, it is me, but it's not my whole persona. By the time you watched the whole hour you'll probably have an idea of what I'm like. 'Cause I am a quiet guy on 'Full House' when I'm home-kisses and hugs and overly nice. I call him Richie Cunningham with an edge, but then on 'Home Videos' I'm also this fast-talking, freewheeling character like the Music Man, you know, with a lot of innuendo."

Saget acknowledges that his routines tend to be "fast-food comedy," and although he feels that it strikes chords in audiences, he aspires to stronger comments: "I want to talk about humanity more and the world more. I don't know enough in some ways. I have a problem hearing myself pontificate about the state of things that really deeply affect me, because I always wonder, who the hell am I to discuss the problems of the world.

"I think I can only do it through the characters that I write in film. I don't think I can do it as a person because you see it happen in so many standups. They become pompous and they take themselves so serious."

Next season "Full House" goes from a five-day to four-day production schedule. On that fifth day Saget will work on the "Home Video" scripts between his acting calls (he has a fax machine in his dressing room).

He gets acting offers, too, but he's looking for the right roles: "Every comedian wants to have that Dudley Moore type of role in 'Foul Play.' You know, that seven-minute breakaway part in a big movie. That, I would try to clear time for, no matter what my schedule."

He acknowledged comfortably that because of his success, "I'm getting more press than I've ever had." But what about the future?

He suggested a scenario: "Oh, yah, Saget, he's opening an Alpha Beta supermarket this week in Studio City."

He corrected that image: "No," he said, "I would only do a supermarket opening if I could direct it . . . 'No, you put the ribbon over here.'

Then he and Sherri had to break away from lunch. They had a meeting set up with their accountant and he had just arrived.

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