When my children watched little snippets of Bob and read some quotes, they couldn’t know that Bob Saget didn’t do transgressive comedy to be mean. He didn’t even do it to shock. He did it to make people laugh, NY Times
He did it to make people laugh? Penn Jillette cleverly distracts you from the fact that Saget’s humour was tediously reliant on bodily function humour: yes, pure shock value, as if anyone could really be shocked by a poop joke nowadays. Shit! Piss! Fuck! And the audience roars with laughter: he’s saying stuff that mom always told me was rude! Out loud!
What Jillette also doesn’t tell you is that the best humour is usually mean to somebody. “Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” is caustic, cynical, brutal in it’s satire of U.S. politics and military culture. It’s mean as hell and it’s brilliant. And not a single poop joke in the 90 minutes.
But Saget and Jillette know that it’s very, very hard to write “Dr. Strangelove”. It takes a lot of talent, and a lot of work. “Poop!” There. That was faster, cheaper, and got more laughs from the average audience.
The cheapest joke in the world–and the most adolescent– is the dirty joke. Jillette would have you believe that there was something transcendently beautiful about Saget’s dirty jokes. That’s the only way you can make it sound less infantile: it was beautiful in this wonderful mysterious way that you don’t get because you’re offended. The rest of us are part of this exclusive private club that appreciates the “transcendent” hilarity of the “transgressive” poop joke.
Saget was, allegedly, a very nice person to know as a friend. What is meant is that he was nice, in this instance, to the eulogist, who counts anyone who was nice to him or her as nice in general even if they weren’t really. You can’t tell if someone who was nice to Penn Jillette was nice in general. Maybe.
What Bob Saget practiced was emotional stage diving. He would fall face-first into the audience’s arms. If the audience didn’t trust him enough to catch him with their laughs, it would be worse than smashing onto a concrete floor.
No– what happened was the audience was enormously relieved to “get” the joke and prove they had taste and culture and a sense of humour. But Jillette thinks there is something Christ-like in a poop joke and Saget is wearing a thorny crown.
Saget was a fucking bore. His regime at “America’s Funniest Home Videos” was a depressing and disgusting party of leering sneering bourgeois titillation (which I endured at times because I really do like watching the videos, and still do). His sitcom, “Full House”, was the very essence of why sitcoms are generally garbage: the familiarity of contemptible mediocrity epitomized by the Lucille Ball sequels desperately trying to cling to viewers by offering the reassuring pabulum of excretable formulae leavened with a smothering dose of smarmy moral turpitude. The idea is to reassure the average smarmy American audience member that he or she really is a good person with good taste even if he or she really does find poop jokes funny and incest hilarious.
The defense of scabrous humour is this:
“Whether we are talking about Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor or George Carlin, the comedian’s role in society has long been to push boundaries and dare to say what people are thinking but are too afraid to say,” Mr. Sammy said. From Here.
But that does not relieve the comedian from the burden of imagining something new or fresh or original. Saget simply repeats the same pee and poop jokes you heard when you were 11 and gets his laughs from stupid audience members who still think it’s funny to say “shit” aloud.
But, no one should be so crass as to try put Saget in the category of Carlin, Bruce, and Pryor.
The rest of us got over it a long time ago, before, even George Carlin. And now we seek something smart or original or creative.