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Dirty Daddy: The Bob Saget Tribute Is a Messy But Loving Remembrance: Review

The new special, now streaming on Netflix, was recorded earlier this year after Saget's death

Bob Saget Tribute Dirty Daddy
Dirty Daddy: The Bob Saget Tribute (Netflix, photo by Mathieu Bitton)
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    Bob Saget pulled off a remarkable trick over his long and busy career in comedy: He spent the late ’80s and much of the ’90s as one of America’s favorite professional genial dorks, playing a square dad on the cornball and often unbearably saccharine ABC sitcom Full House and ringmaster to America’s less professionally genial dorks — those suffering home-recorded mishaps on the same network’s America’s Funniest Home Videos.

    After those gigs ended, though, he directed one very funny and decidedly less clean comedy, Dirty Work, and word about his non-ABC comedy career spread: That Bob Saget fellow really works pretty blue!

    This was probably always true outside of his time on ABC — how many comedians can’t hit a blue streak sometimes? — but Saget seemed to particularly delight in puncturing his network-friendly image later in his career. It never came off as malicious, regardless of the actual quality of the jokes: He told dirty jokes with the same sweetness that he dispensed fatherly advice and low-level slapstick on Full House, and that itself was awfully endearing. The same qualities that made him a beloved sitcom dad for a generation of kids made him a beloved jack-of-all-trades comic (stand-up, memoir, hosting, game shows) for years afterward.

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    Maybe Netflix sensed the symmetry in his career, and picked up Dirty Daddy: The Bob Saget Tribute, a live event recorded a few weeks after his January 2022 death, as a bookend to its Full House sequel series, which reintroduced Saget’s dorky-dad shtick to a new generation of younger viewers. Full House figures into this tribute, of course — John Stamos is one of the main figures speaking of Saget with love and good humor — but the special focuses more on how his bawdy sense of humor dovetailed with his warmth and kindness as a person.

    Or maybe Netflix is just finding a strange, new, but compelling niche to conquer: the comedy-special wake. Just a couple of weeks ago, the platform premiered Nothing Special, a home-recorded parting shot from comic Norm Macdonald, followed by a half-hour discussion and appreciation from some of his friends and colleagues. Saget’s career was unexpectedly entwined with Macdonald’s: It was Macdonald who co-wrote and starred in Dirty Work; it was Saget who was the subject of Macdonald’s famously squeaky-clean roast (wherein he essentially performed a reverse Saget, going corny when everyone expected shock); and the two died just months apart.

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