If you have 15 minutes, and who doesn’t, it’s worth your time to watch an impromptu Instagram video by comic Jeff Ross and musician John Mayer driving their friend Bob Saget’s car home from LAX.
Saget, 65, a nineties lore staple as the star of Full House and Americas Funniest Home Videos, as well as a perennial comedian/actor, died quite unexpectedly this week in a Florida hotel room the morning after doing one of his standup shows.
There was no foul play, no drugs and no scandal. Though autopsy results are pending, right now it looks like he had either a sudden heart attack or a massive stroke.
As the Omicron version of COVID continues to decimate the U.S. and the planet, and we all continue to lose our minds over fascism, voting rights, masks and the people who refuse to wear them or get the g-d damned vaccine (Note: F-ck U Novak Djokovic, you’ll break that Grand Slam record over ALL of our dead bodies!) it might seem relevant to ask the question:
Why are you writing about Bob Saget?
I mean, other than the fact that he died?
Well, I’ll tell you.
In a two-month period where we’ve lost revered show business legends like Sidney Poitier, Betty White and Stephen Sondheim, seeing the amount of show business love and heartbreak in reaction to the death of Mr. Saget feels…unparalleled?
Funny as he was (Note: I’ll always remember him for his hilariously filthy monologue in The Artistocrats), and as good of an actor as he could also be (Note: Check out his Law and Order: SVU season 8 episode, Choreographed), this isn’t an industry that comes together to laud people for anything other than superhuman success or super duper amounts of accrued money.
Not that Bob Saget wasn’t known among his peers for generous helpings of both.
But it seems what he was mostly known for was his unbridled and unrelenting love and generosity.
Apparently following his death there was a three-day pajama party/shiva (Note: Jewish tradition for paying respect to a family who have lost loved ones where people bring LOTS of food) at his home with his family; his entire Full House family, which he kept together for decades as their own second family, (Note: Yes, BOTH grown up Olsen twins/moguls were there); as well as a diversity of comics, actors, musicians and other show business luminaries.
But as both the public and the personal tweets mounted there were only three words that united the many dozens, nee many hundreds of them:
KIND. CARING. LOVE.
Google his name and type in any of those words and see what comes up.
I guess the fourth word would be funny and it’s likely that would be the first word any comedian would want to have as their epitaph.
But it’s not as if we don’t know and expect comics to be funny.
What you rarely see leading the list in show business tributes is the constant and incessant use of the word kind.
It’s not that everyone is mean. It’s more that in the competitive and sometimes cutthroat world we humans have created, few individuals lead with kind and continue to do so that continually, dependably and personally over decades.
People can be kind on the set and a pleasure to work with but they likely won’t be your lasting good friend. Someone can be a close buddy but it’s rare so many close buddies will be people you worked with and who you still might be competing with for a job.
Which also doesn’t account for those many non-pros who you have made sure to keep in your inner circle or to reach out to in times of trouble no matter how busy or rich you became, simply because you were kind. Or, more likely, merely because you wanted to.
Jimmy Kimmel, who has cried before on his television show but contrary to so many mean tweets doesn’t do often, tells it much more specifically and emotionally:
We don’t talk a lot about real love and kindness in such direct ways any more for fear of appearing melodramatic or, to use one of my students’ favorite terms/fears, too cheesy.
But that’s what got Jeff Ross and John Mayer to do something any L.A. resident would herculariously (Note: It’s a word now!) try almost anything to avoid — driving through freeway traffic to Los Angeles International Airport to find their friend’s car somewhere in a dreaded, unmarked multi-level parking structure, pay the overdue penalty and then turn right back around and drive themselves together again through rush hour traffic simply because someone had to do it and it was a way to help.
I mean, it’s not like you couldn’t get a lineup of p.a.’s to complete that task for you, with or without pay.
That might not seem like the ultimate display of kindness for those who don’t live here but you’ll just have to trust The Chair on this one. Out here on the left coast, upper echelon of show business, this simply DOES. NOT. HAPPEN. EVER.
Though love and kindness, those now seldom discussed qualities too often relegated to the cultural death heap of the sixties, never fail to surprise. And occasionally, to inspire.