For me, it was personal: Bob Saget literally changed the whole arc of my life.
On April 1, 2011, I was a partner in a small Chicago litigation firm. The combative world of judges and lawyers exhausts me mentally and physically. I ran out of time for my personal passions, especially playing guitar and managing musicians. In search of a creative outlet, I had started taking weekly improvisation classes at the legendary Second City theater with a friend. I thought maybe this could help me become a better litigator.
This friend also performed on stand-up, and that April day he was opening act for a sold-out Bob Saget show in nearby Hammond, Indiana. He invited me to accompany him to keep him calm and “manage” him, given my experience in talent management.
Noticing my Cubs gear, he disarmed me with a discussion of baseball and guitars, the latter of which he played as part of his stand-up set. I remember how kind and sincere he was, asking follow-up questions as we walked around the room looking for the green room. Which celebrity is cordial for a manager, let alone a pseudo-manager? That’s the kind of person Saget was. When we passed each other backstage before the show, he even invited me to hang out in his green room while he tuned his guitar, letting me try my hand at playing it.
As I began to scratch, I filled the empty space with a comedic but self-deprecating anecdote about my music days, telling him how I performed in multiple bands and got fired from multiple bands, even though I was the one who put the groups together. My head was lowered, focused on the guitar, but I heard a distinct, familiar sound: a heartfelt laugh. I had made someone famous laugh! And not just anyone; Danny Tanner! Bob Saget from “Les Aristocrates!” He’s laughing. Out loud. To something I said. What happened next was even more surreal.
“You should do that tonight on stage,” he told me. I thought maybe he mistook me for my friend, so I informed him that I wasn’t playing and it wasn’t a rehearsal – I had never done a stand-up before, I said, and in fact I argued for a source of income. Saget was unfazed and actually seemed more convinced to bring me up. (In retrospect, that makes sense; he shocked people for a living when he worked blue on stage, especially those who knew him as the righteous single dad of “Full House.” What could be more shocking than? a funny lawyer?)
Even though he kept pushing me to continue, I was able to stop while I was in front. I made Bob Saget laugh. It was enough for the night.
But her encouragement stayed on my mind as I watched her show. It was like an endorsement that I had sought all my life. I can’t tell you what judges or juries have said about me from my years as a lawyer, but even as I write this 11 years later I distinctly remember Bob Saget’s laugh. in this green room. While I was a fan of stand-up comedy, acting it was never on my radar.
I don’t know what he was thinking, or why he seemed determined to see me play. And maybe my interpretation was clouded by the drinks I had drunk at that Cubs game. But because of my newly discovered confidence in my acting skills, I played my first open mic the next day.
When it was my turn, I repeated the story that had tickled Saget, and it was once again a success. I was addicted. The immediate adrenaline rush of the public response far exceeded the victories I had experienced in even high-profile cases. The power of those laughs has propelled me to heights I’ve never had in a courtroom. And it was an open mic with 20 people in the room, for zero pay.
For a while, I became a better – and funnier – lawyer. But after a few years of parallel acting, I left my law firm to pursue what I believe to be my natural calling. Today, I am a full-time comedian.
I often think about what would have happened if I hadn’t done this show and never met Bob Saget. Would I eventually find my way to comedy? Or would I still be miserably attending court calls during the week and chasing a creative goal on the weekends, playing in a Dave Matthews cover band in suburban Chicago?
As he recalled in his book, when the comedians came to ask him for advice, Saget shared what Don Rickles had told him one day about the audience: “They want to stop you. Nobody wants to help you. Just go ahead … like a tank. ”
Off the stage, Bob Saget did the opposite. All he did was support and help. For better or for worse, Bob Saget is the reason I am a comedian. He’s the reason I know I’m funny. He’s the reason I’m happy. I might have eventually found another way to stand up, but my journey started with Bob’s kindness and encouragement. Along with our fellow comedians and fans, I am forever grateful for the positive influence he spread during his lifetime.