“AFV,” the family TV institution that Bob Saget helped launch in 1989, will pay tribute to its original host for the rest of the season with a regular segment showcasing memorable moments from his time on the ABC series.
“America’s Funniest Home Videos” honored its original emcee in its Jan. 16 episode, a week after Saget’s death at the age of 65. But executive producer Vin Di Bona decided earlier this week that there was too much prime PG-rated Saget material in the vault from his eight-year run not to share more on the air.
“I’d forgotten how whimsical and crazy his host bits were — very physical and very visual,” Di Bona told Variety. “In one show he walks on stage in front of the audience and says ‘Did I tell you it’s my birthday?’ And the audience all raises their hands with wrapped gifts for him. It’s that kind of gentle crazy humor that I want younger generations to see from him.”
Saget helped “AFV” take root as a Sunday evening mainstay for ABC with his performance as host, serving up a mix of pratfalls, on-the-edge of snarky comments and a repertoire of crazy cartoon-like voices that he added to heighten the comedy of the homemade video clips.
At the time Saget was a seasoned standup comic and star of ABC’s hit “TGIF” Friday night comedy “Full House.” He was a natural choice to host “AFV,” which began its storied run as a one-off special. It was a flier for ABC, a special adapted from a Japanese TV series format to capitalize on the home video recording revolution as it hit critical mass in the late 1980s. Saget became a household name in the late 1980s as a family-friendly TV star but at the same time he had a long-established reputation for working extremely blue and edgy in his prolific standup comedy work.
Di Bona said the call to keep a tribute segment running throughout the show’s 32nd season was also influenced by the extraordinary outpouring of testimonials to Saget over the past two weeks. The comedian, who died on the road, has been widely hailed as a generous friend and tireless supporter of fellow comedians, actors, writers and many others. As “AFV” producers perused clips from Saget’s 1989 to 1997 tenure on the show, they saw flashes of the qualities that Saget’s friends and co-workers cited most, Di Bona said.
During his 1989-1997 tenure on “AFV,” “Bob was most proud of his voiceover work,” Di Bona said, adding that none of the subsequent “AFV” hosts have attempted to add that touch to clips. “We spend endless hours in voiceover sessions perfecting how Bob would do that. Oftentimes he would be three to four characters in a clip. That meant tracking three to four channels of voiceover to mix together. It was hysterical and it was exhausting. And in the end, it was funny.”
The “AFV” segment will run at different times in the 12 hourlong episodes that remain for the 2021-2022 season. The segment opens with a quick-cut montage of Saget “AFV” moments and the chyron “AFV Remembers the Saget Years.” Di Bona feels it’s a fitting tribute for the first face of the show.
“As the rabbi said at the opening of Bob’s (memorial) ceremony, ‘He could be a handful, and he was delightful, and he was a wonderful human being,” Di Bona said.
(Pictured: Bob Saget in a January 1990 promotional photo for ABC’s “America’s Funniest Home Videos”)