By Marianne Garvey
John Stamos and Bob Saget were an unlikely duo.
When they worked together on the beloved family sitcom “Full House” from 1987 to 1995, they had different working styles — a disparity that could cause tension at times. Saget could be, according to Stamos, “annoying” and “goof off.”
“The truth is — and, you know, I have to say it’s so funny — that we weren’t the best friends (when we were) on that show,” Stamos tells CNN. “I came in wanting to approach the sitcom with structure, whereas Bob and Dave (Coulier) just wanted to make everyone laugh all the time.”
He recalls this during a Zoom call about a new special and ode to Saget called “Dirty Daddy: The Bob Saget Tribute,” which premieres Friday on Netflix, roughly six months after the beloved TV dad died at age 65.
“No one would’ve guessed that the two of us would end up being best friends,” he says.
So close, in fact, that Stamos acted as a pallbearer at Saget’s funeral — a day, he confessed on Twitter, that was “the hardest day of my life.”
At the funeral, Saget’s first wife, Sherri Kramer, gifted Stamos exactly what he needed to hear — a tribute to their unique friendship that makes Stamos laugh as he recalls her words: “Bob loved you so much,” she told him, according to Stamos, “but he also hated you for a long time.”
Best friends, then brothers
After the show ended, Saget and Stamos bonded over trying to shake their wholesome “Full House” characters, Danny Tanner and Jesse Katsopolis, respectively.
“We both knew his true ‘dirty daddy’ self,” Stamos says, as did anyone who was around when the cameras would stop rolling and the jokes would begin.
The more they spent time together — including, eventually, on a reboot called “Fuller House” — the more they grew to love one another. Stamos says the two even began seeing the same therapist.
“He started popping into my life when I needed him the most, when I needed somebody. And then vice versa,” Stamos says. “And then we just got closer and closer and closer, and we ended up just being there for each other during the happiest and the saddest moments of our lives.”
He shares this while playing snippets of the Netflix special, growing emotional as he watches his best friend appear on screen, vacillating between crying and laughing.
He is still so sad, he says.
He plays a clip of comedian Jeff Ross, Jim Carrey, Chris Rock, John Mayer and himself riffing on stage about their mutual pal. The stage is scattered with plush chairs and Ross is hosting. Ross makes a joke: “John Mayer is here, and John very, very, very generously hired a private jet to fly Bob’s body home. He also hired a Goodyear Blimp to fly in Louis Anderson’s body.”
Stamos laughs, saying, “it was a light roast Bob would have loved.”
‘It was such a gut punch’
Saget was found dead in a hotel room on Jan. 9 at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes, Florida. An autopsy report released by the Orange County Medical Examiner’s Office later disclosed that the comedian died as a result of “head trauma.”
Stamos had been driving around with his 4-year-old son, Billy, trying to get him to nap, shortly before he found out the news. He was in a parking lot not far from his home when his publicist called.
“He asked if I had spoken to Bob yet that day … that people are saying he’s dead,” he recalls. “I go, ‘What? He’s in Florida to do a show.'”
He hung up and called and texted Saget multiple times, then started calling Saget’s wife, Kelly Rizzo. When he reached her; she was screaming and crying. The news was true.
“I hit the ground in the parking lot. And it was downhill from there,” he says. “It was just ‘I’m so sorry.’ It was such a gut punch.”
He returned home with Billy still asleep and went out on a balcony in his house, where he saw a hummingbird hovering nearby. In the Stamos family tradition, this means a person who has died is visiting.
“I don’t know why I did it, but I videotaped it,” Stamos says. “And I got video of the little hummingbird that I think was Bob.”
Rock ‘n’ roll shiva
Since in the Jewish tradition the funeral should occur within 24 hours of the time of death, Stamos says he and friends “whipped a funeral together,” got Saget’s body home and had a ceremony less than a week after his death.
Stamos was there alongside “Full House” co-stars Dave Coulier, Candace Cameron Bure, Jodie Sweetin, Lori Loughlin and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.
Then on Jan. 30, friends and family threw a touching and sad “impromptu rock ‘n’ roll shiva” for Saget in a small room above The Comedy Store in Hollywood, where he had started his career as a standup.
Stamos plays footage of himself giving an emotional speech about Saget, where he tells the audience about the “honor of being his best friend … one of his best friends, for 35 years.” The audience was filled with a mixture of friends, family and fans. Stamos played them a tribute video he made of Saget, but revisiting it was difficult.
“This is hard to watch,” he says, tearing up.
Producer Mike Binder, a friend of Saget and Coulier, came up with the idea for the tribute, with Ross and Stamos set to host. They didn’t have much prepared, but Stamos and Mayer were able to get a band together. Binder set up cameras “just in case” and famous faces started rolling in, Stamos recalled.
“I hear these two voices that sound so familiar by the door, I think, ‘That sounds like Chris Rock. That sounds like Jim Carrey.’ I had no idea they were gonna be there,” he says. “And everybody just walked on stage, and it just took off from there.”
The result is raw and intimate, and Stamos would not have a celebration of Saget’s life presented in any other way.
All proceeds from the live show went to the Scleroderma Research Foundation.
He hopes everyone sees how loved — and loving — his friend was.
“He would always tell you how much he loved you, why he loved you. He never got off the phone,” Stamos says. “I could show you; it’s ‘I love you. I love you.’ Fifty times, a million times.”
He says that because Saget suffered a lot of loss in his life, he was acutely aware of getting his message of love across.
“That’s our lesson and that’s for sure. I mean, a lot of people that were around him, they sure do say, ‘I love you’ a lot,” he says, laughing.
Stamos, picking up and strumming a guitar of Saget’s, recalls the last time he saw his friend in person.
It was a double date at Nobu in Malibu, where he left with a full heart thinking about their friendship.
“That night Bob was everything that I wanted him to be,” he says. “All the best parts of him were at that dinner… I swear to God, he was just, like, at peace somehow.”
He listened, intently interested in what was going on in other people’s lives, Stamos says.
“You know, sometimes you could tell, ‘He’s just asking questions because he’s supposed to because our shrink told him to,'” he laughs, “But that night was different.”
He says his favorite lines from the special come from Jim Carrey.
In the moment, which he plays over Zoom, Carrey addresses the crowd as a blues song plays in the background.
“Bob wasn’t someone who was taken away from us; he was something that was given to us,” Carrey says. “And one day, when the laughs had hit a certain amount, he just unzipped his human suit and went for a ride.”
He’s probably “floating above us” at this very moment, Carrey adds, “flanked by angels.”
“And they’re sayin’, ‘You made people laugh,’ ‘You made people feel loved,’ ‘You made people money,’ ‘You created a cathedral of f***ing love in this world.’ And that was your life, Bob Saget, a cathedral of love, a cathedral of laughter.”
“Dirty Daddy: The Bob Saget Tribute” premieres June 10 on Netflix.
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