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Bob Saget talks new comedy special ‘Zero to Sixty’

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Comedian Bob Saget says his focus in this era of divisiveness is to simply entertain people without contributing to the division. 

The 61-year old does just that in his first comedy special in three years. “Zero to Sixty” is available now on digital platforms including Amazon, Dish and DirecTV. According to Saget, he didn’t have time to fret over the special.

“I was on a plane on a Thursday when I got a call from Brian Volk-Weiss at [comedy production company] Comedy Dynamics. He said ‘Hey, do you want to shoot a special in Brooklyn next Tuesday?’”

Saget explained that another comedian scheduled for the shoot had a falling out with the company.

“They completely redressed the set for me,” he said. “We shot it at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. It’s an intimate theater, but it’s still a theatre. It’s kind of a rock and roll hipster place where everybody looks like they’re in a Lenscrafters commercial.”

“Zero to Sixty” has a different tone compared with the raw edgy comedy found in most of Saget’s previously documented standup work. The dirtiness is dialed back in favor of heart.

“I tell stories about being a kid and finding out how babies are born,” Saget said. “I talk about my mom passing away, and how we lost her but we found her behind the shed. The special has funny stories and jokes, but I also talk about losing Rodney Dangerfield and Don Rickles. Don was like a father to me. I have four new comedy songs in the special and I’m just really proud of it.”

For 30 years, since the premiere of the long-running ABC sitcom “Full House” (and today in the follow-up series “Fuller House,” seen now on Netflix) and as the host of “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” the world has known two Bob Sagets. One is a self-effacing, obsessively clean TV dad named Danny Tanner. The other tells dirty jokes.

“I’m a ‘soft R-rated comedian,’ whatever you want to call it,” said Saget. “But because of “Full House” and “Fuller House,” some people still think I’m really that guy on TV. They don’t know that acting comes into play. I guess that means I’m successful.”

In his new special “Zero to Sixty,” those disparate characters come a little closer to meeting in the middle. I asked Saget if that is a reaction to current times.

“Very much so. It comes from being tired of talking fast and trying to do a lot of ‘in my pants’ jokes,” he said. “Rodney Dangerfield used to tell me ‘Do as many jokes as you can in 50 minutes.’ Then Don Rickles would say ‘Take your time, talk to the people, give them a hard time but love them.’ I’m a combination of a lot of people I got to know, but I still have a weirdness to me. I chose that style because nobody could steal it and who would want it?”

Saget says he simply aims to make people feel better by making them laugh.

“I want to be Liza Minnelli,” he said. “I want to go home and say ‘I did something pretty good today.’ I do a 90-minute set and everybody goes home happy. I make a connection with people and it has just the right amount of edge without being too much. It’s like a town meeting in a way.”

My interview with Saget came between his trips to the studio where the sixth film to bear his direction credit is in the final stages of post-production.

“It’s called ‘Benjamin’ and it’s an indie comedy-drama that I’m very proud of,” Saget said.

Saget plays a father whose son (Max Burkholder from “Parenthood”) is suspected of being addicted to crystal meth. Saget’s best friend in the film is played by Rob Corddry (“The Daily Show,” “Ballers”); he’s a gynecologist who leads an intervention.

“I direct myself in a very manic stage,” Saget explained. “Kind of like if Danny Tanner went off the rails, which I think I actually did a couple of times during that show. Mary Lynn Rajskub plays my girlfriend who posts on Facebook to call an intervention. That brings in people from everywhere. It’s a serious subject but it’s a dark comedy written by Joshua Turek. It’s a very strange interesting movie with many levels to it – both serious and funny. That’s the kind of movie I like.”

“Benjamin” is due in 2018, which is already shaping up to be another fast-paced year for Saget. The next batch of “Fuller House” episodes are set to debut on Netflix just before Christmas and Saget’s touring calendar will take him across the country several times in the next year.

“All I want to do now is make people laugh and forget about things for a little while,” he said. “There’s so much division in the world now and I don’t want my kids to think I contributed to it. I just want to entertain people.”


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