I knew that seeing Bob Saget for the first time was going to be eye-opening, to say the least. I thought I had a good handle on what his style was going to be like. I had seen his show-stopping scenes in “Half Baked” and “The Aristocrats.” I know that the good name of “Bob Saget” as a dirty comic was tarnished long ago by some sitcom and trampoline accident show. I read many interviews like John’s “Why So Serious” column with the man. Last night at the Boulder Theater I learned why Saget has been a force in stand-up comedy for 30 years.
Saget doesn’t have a set. He probably took notes and prepared real punchlines at some point in his career, but any hint of that type of premeditation is absent from his show. He rocketed on stage amid a roar of cheers and a couple of seconds of “Rollin’ With Saget.” He cut off the very warm welcome immediately and went to work.
Within the first minute of rapid-fire winks and euphemisms, he had already picked out at least three audience members that would be a part of the rest of his show (if Saget were writing this review, he wouldn’t move beyond the word “members” without taking note). We got to know Saget’s version of Gladys, D (yes, the letter “D”), and Josh (whose name we learned later from his friends when Josh was away from his front row seat getting drinks). They were his partners and he derived at least half of his material from them.
His show is incredibly interactive. Saget’s apparent sixth sense allows him to simultaneously hear everything that the audience utters and log it in his memory. His seemingly completely random stream-of-consciousness style leaps around so much that its only structure comes from little punctuated facts and jokes about the people in the crowd that we had just met. The only other wonderful consistency was his encyclopedic knowledge of the movie “Titanic.” He would hum the theme after a particularly strange non-sequiter, and proceed to crack himself up.
Saget’s favorite target was Shawn, the poor soul that had to get up a quarter of the way into the show. Shawn sealed his fate when he resisted Saget’s initial gentle prods with a polite middle finger. Saget pounced on his prey faster than his previous round of comic delivery had prepared me for. When Saget asked, “Where are you going, Shawn? To drink, pee, or smoke?” Shawn loudly and benevolently replied, “To pee and drink.” It was too perfect for even Saget to believe at first. By the end of the show, he had taken Shawn and molded him into a legend. Saget interrupted his closing acoustic guitar bit to see what Shawn was texting in the fifth or sixth row. Shortly, in what I would consider the climax of the show, Saget was leaving a lovely message for Shawn’s mother Jennifer on her voicemail.
While the vast majority of the show was Saget rolling along, gleefully playing puppet master to our more than willing audience, there was a small speed bump towards the end. When he had sung three or four of his recent signature songs, including crowd favorites “My Dog Licked My Balls” and “An Old English Folk Song” (where he deftly doesn’t rhyme any words with rock, wricks, yore, duck, knit, hunt, and walls), our friend in the third row, Gladys, stood up to confront Saget. He finished a song and asked her what she wanted. She asked if he was going to play any music that wasn’t misogynistic. He took offense and actually spent a fair amount of time talking about how he loves his daughters and all women and dedicated the next song to Gladys. It was a song about fellatio, but it was their moment to share and break up the sincerity of the previous awkward exchange.
He finished his songs with the “I Want It That Way” parody, “Danny Tanner Was Not Gay,” said his goodbyes and promptly got a standing ovation. He never made it off stage before coming back to the mic and giving a one-song encore. He genuinely thanked everyone for coming out and said, “I’ll never forget this show as long as I live.” He once again expressed his love for Boulder and ended one of the best nights of comedy I’ve ever seen.
Marc Hobelman lives in Denver and is a new contributor to Reverb.