RIP Bob Saget: Stand-up Comic Turned TV Star

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RIP Bob Saget: Stand-up Comic Turned TV Star

Bob Saget, the raunchy stand-up comic best known for family-friendly TV shows in the ‘80s and ‘90s like Full House and America’s Funniest Home Videos, has died. He was 65.

As first reported by TMZ, Saget was found dead Sunday afternoon at the Ritz-Carlton in Orlando. He was in the middle of a tour of Florida, performing in Orlando on Friday night, and in Jacksonville on Saturday, the night before his death. His last social media post went up on Twitter at 3:42 a.m. Sunday morning, and was about how much he enjoyed his show in Jacksonville the night before. No cause of death has been announced yet, but police have ruled out foul play and drug use.

The late ‘70s through the early ‘90s were the glory days of stand-up comedians making the jump to mainstream TV superstardom. Saget was just one of many to move from comedy clubs to the TV screen, but few comics saw a bigger gap between their family-friendly TV persona and their stand-up material than he did. Saget was gleefully filthy, a master at disarming audiences with his clean-cut charm before leveling them with unexpected raunch. (He had the absolute filthiest joke in The Aristocrats, which is really saying something.) What made it work so well was that, despite the filth, his actual personality wasn’t that dissimilar to his Full House role of Danny Tanner. Saget always gave off the vibe of a very nice, very professional, very “square” fatherly figure, which made his raunchy comedy land with greater force, and also made him an ideal pick to play a father on an ‘80s network sitcom for kids. While starring on Full House he was also the original host of America’s Funniest Home Videos, prefiguring the world of viral videos and content creators that we’ve found ourselves in. After leaving Home Videos in 1997, his most prominent TV credit was as the narrator on the long-lasting sitcom How I Met Your Mother.

Based on how the entertainment world is mourning him today, Saget wasn’t acting when he projected that image of being an exceedingly polite, clean-cut, fatherly type. A number of stand-up comedians have shared their memories of Saget, praising him as a peer, a mentor, and one of the most decent and easy-to-like people in the business. In an Esquire profile from 2015 former Paste contributor Ryan Bort captured Saget’s fundamental decency and profound influence within the stand-up world; the same can be seen in all the eulogies shared by friends and colleagues on social media over the last day.

Given how thoroughly the entertainment world has fractured since the ‘80s, with a dozen streaming services, hundreds of TV channels, and countless online content creators all jockeying for our attention, it’s unlikely any comedian will ever become as ubiquitous and recognizable as Saget was during his Full House and Home Videos heyday. He wasn’t just a husband and a father, a comedian and an actor, but a link back to a kind of mass market TV stardom that’s increasingly impossible to replicate today. Basically, if you owned a TV set in the ‘80s and ‘90s you probably know who Bob Saget is, no matter your age at the time, and that can’t be said about most TV stars of the 21st century. May he rest in peace.