Multi-Faceted Performer Bob Saget Leaves Us With A Rich Legacy

When a celebrity dies, especially a beloved one, there’s a tendency to overstate their popularity or cultural importance. As my fellow ’90s kids can attest, though, that’s impossible with Bob Saget, who has passed away at the age of 65. Full House‘s Danny Tanner and host of America’s Funniest Home Videos was a major and meaningful part of our childhoods. A position he deserved not just because of who he played on screen, but for who he was off of it.

Bob Saget in a black suit and shirt on Netflix's Fuller House
Michael Yarish/Netflix

When primetime TV still ruled supreme over the cultural landscape, Bob Saget was always on it. And for the best reasons. Every Friday night, he was the sweetest, most loving father in the world during a block of television made specifically for kids. And on Sundays, he showed us the most hilarious videos. On a series that ultimately served as the spiritual forerunner of YouTube. There was never any question about how popular both shows were either. We didn’t know what Nielsen ratings were, but we didn’t need them. Even if someone did not watch either series, they still knew about them and about him. Bob Saget mattered whether you were a fan or not.

If those two iconic ’90s series—and they surely are iconic artifacts of that decade—-had been the entire extent of his career, his passing would hit hard for those who grew up watching him. But he saved his funniest joke for a time when we could actually appreciate it. As we got older, he let us in on a secret that seemed impossible given his role as TV’s dorkiest dad: he was actually a foul-mouthed, filthy comedian. A comic so vulgar that, in retrospect, it’s amazing ABC ever let him around children at all.

Even now, it seems impossible that nerdy guy, the one who ended every episode of America’s Funniest Home Videos with a message to his wife, made Andrew Dice Clay look like Ned Flanders. If you go back in time and play one of his sets during a 1992 TGIF block, you’ll make millions of eight-year-olds’ heads explode. But that’s a testament to his talent. As children, we assumed the person we saw on camera was the same person behind it. Meanwhile, Danny Tanner was the complete opposite of Bob Saget. Which we only learned when we could appreciate why that was so funny. Talk about a great bit. It was like discovering Mother Teresa secretly worked blue at The Comedy Store every Sunday before Mass.

He wasn’t done with us just yet, though. He was still playing dad when we entered adulthood. When How I Met Your Mother needed someone to voice a father we’d willingly listen to week after week, they chose one we already loved. For those of us who knew every episode of Full House by heart (and I surely did, as my two sisters basically watched reruns 24 hours a day every day), it was like reconnecting with an old family member.

He was also perfect for the role. Older Ted was dorky enough to think his kids would enjoy hearing a long meandering story. Danny Tanner would have done the same. But just like Danny, he was funny enough to keep us interested in hearing it ourselves.

One thing has become clear in the immediate wake of his passing, though. Despite his own crass comedy stylings, we actually did know the real Bob Saget from watching him on TV. The universal outpouring of love and admiration from his friends and colleagues is unequivocal. Those who knew him personally say he was as warm and loving as the characters he played.

Full House, even at its most popular, was never one of TV’s best shows. Neither was America‘s Funniest Home Videos. They were among TV’s most important, though. Which is exactly what Bob Saget was to an entire generation. He was a talented performer who could just as easily play a dorky sitcom dad as he could sing about unnatural acts on stage. And by all accounts, just as every kid “knew” growing up, he was an even better person.

After a lifetime of entertaining us, Bon Saget has left us. Far too soon. He’s survived by his wife and three children. As well as countless fans that will always love him. We don’t have to exaggerate why he mattered to so many.

Mikey Walsh is a staff writer at Nerdist. You can follow him on Twitter at  @burgermike. And also anywhere someone is ranking the Targaryen kings.

Top Stories
Trending Topics