Come on, admit it, we've all done it. While watching the hoity-toity March of the Penguins (a French documentary that was actually Americanized with Morgan Freeman as narrator), you have to wonder what's actually going on in the flightless fellas' heads. What must they be thinking making this endless, beyond-frigid trek, all in the name of mating, making and then guarding an egg, and then, after much waiting, getting some lousy fish for their effort? God bless Bob Saget, he of the seemingly bipolar "family friendly/potty-mouthed" on-stage persona, for addressing such questions with the R-rated, made-for-DVD Farce of the Penguins, featuring the voices of himself, Lewis Black, Christina Applegate, Tracy Morgan and Abe Vigoda (!), and narrated by Samuel L. Jackson. How did this caustic spoof come to life? During a Tuesday roundtable, TVGuide.com asked Saget that and more.
TVGuide.com: So you're watching the original March of the Penguins in a theater....
Bob Saget: Yeah, right? I was at a friend's house, actually — [Sarcastically] real high-end screening — and I'm an idiot, so I just started doing what I did on the [America's Funniest Home] Video show. But it was more adult, my god. My kids were there, but I just started singing the theme from Exodus as they march in line, the "Oompa Loompa" song — a lot of stuff you couldn't clear for this movie — and then just a lot of Yiddish voices: "If I want a piece of fish, I gotta get laid." I just couldn't help myself. The next day, I call my friend David Permit, who had been shooting Rodney Dangerfield and his friends for a documentary he's making. David and I are in each other's heads comedically, and I just said, "You know, I would love to just take March of the Penguins and just be an idiot and make a stoner movie out of it." Just sit there like Mystery Science Theater 3000 and do a low-end, R-rated — PG-13 if I had to — [spoof]. We met with the head of National Geographic Films, and Warner Independent, and they were like, "This is kind of a great idea." At least that's what we always say their thought was. So David goes, "Let's make it anyway!" Make it anyway? What are we going to make it with? He had an idea: "Were going to get stock footage! It can be done!" I'm like, "People want sophistication, moving mouths, CGI.... They spent $200 million on Happy Feet. How are we going to do this?" He goes, "Doesn't matter, we're going to do it." So we called THINKFilm, which distributed The Aristocrats, and made a guerrilla stoner movie. It just is what it is. I would have loved to have another six months on it, and have more animals, a lot more animals doing horrible things, but... THINKFilm was very, very supportive.
TVGuide.com: Was the "Not Suitable for Children" DVD box label purely a creative choice, or is that a bit of lawyering, since it looks just like those "other" penguin films?
Saget: No, I have this weird thing — because I'm nuts — where I believe that I can do a game show or a movie for family, and then I can do this other [raunchier] stuff. I grew up being mentored by Richard Pryor and Rodney Dangerfield, or even Robin Williams, who would do One Hour Photo, and then go do Flubber. This is my TV version of that. I'm not going back to a Full House, and on 1 vs 100 [Fridays at 8 pm/ET, on NBC] I get some edge in it once in a while, but it's a game show, and I have to serve what that is. But no, I'm really happy with this. The joke is that it got made. The joke is the movie is made out of air! Myself and these two actresses, Vanessa Evigan and Abbey McBride, we recorded [a rough track for] the entire movie, doing a few takes on each thing. But there was no film, so [Farce editor] Michael Miller says, "Go away, and give me a month," and they started attaching [stock] footage, cut to the first draft. We would then change the dialogue where the footage wasn't right, or something would happen in the footage where I would go, "That's hilarious." During the first song, there's a penguin in the background going absolutely nuts, but there's no reference to it.
TVGuide.com: I like how a white owl, your penguin Carl's "shrink," flutters in from what is obviously a wooded area, but no attempt is made to match the arctic setting.
Saget: Thank you, that's my favorite thing in the movie. It says on IMDB that James Woods did [the voice], but it's not true. It's Jonathan Katz, who is a very interesting guy. He's, like, a protégé of [David] Mamet, he's a great comedian, he exec-produced a show I did called Raising Dad.... He's just a brilliant guy, and he has sick humor, like me. So I sent him a QuickTime file of the owl footage, with me doing both voices, to show him the amount of time he had to record. And he comes back with, "What is it you want, Carl?" I'm gone. If you cut to a glacier, with a penguin, and then you cut to an owl in a tree with snow? [Laughs] That's enough for me. We're in a world where mouths are moving, and this is like if Milo and Otis were cursing. This is going back, like, 20 years!
TVGuide.com: I take it there will be no commercials for this during 1 vs 100?
Saget: That's too expensive. [Laughs] No, we have commercials, but I don't think it belongs during 1 vs 100, obviously. Because I do have a fear, a legitimate fear: My youngest daughter, who's 14, she's seen the movie and she loves it because she loves the music. I mean, Green Day and Goo-Goo Dolls gave me music for this thing. That's not small. They did it because I know them and they're great people who love subversive stuff.
TVGuide.com: What's next for you? Are you on a break from the game show?
Saget: No, actually we just did five new ones. The one coming this week is all 7- to 17-year-old kids in the "mob." Spelling-bee champs, a kid who's an 11-year-old entrepreneur.... It's really funny. It has an element of Kids Say the Darnedest Things all of a sudden. They boo [the contestant] like they're in Oliver! and he's Fagan, you know? And after the kids, we have a "mob that everybody wants to hate" — IRS employees, DMV and postal workers.... I'm getting to play, that's why I did it. We had a bunch of cross-dressers, and the question was, "Do you want paper or plastic, or paper and plastic?" And I said, "You guys know a lot about bags," and they left it in! I think we got some letters, I'm not sure.... We're now waiting for our next pickup. We beat everything on TV for all of Friday, so they're excited about that. And I'm doing my stand-up, which is a complete 180 from that. I haven't signed the deal yet, but I'm planning to do an HBO special right now. I'm determined to outdo YouTube, because you could actually cut a special together from the cell phones that have captured me.
TVGuide.com: What are you talking about in your act these days?
Saget: This special will be a good nail in the coffin, for me to do enough Full House jokes so that they are hopefully done. I talk too much about it, but people enjoy that stuff.
TVGuide.com: You're already on NBC, how about showing up as a patient of "Uncle Jesse's" (John Stamos) on ER?
Saget: I told John I want to be a cadaver. No, I did the Law & Order: SVU, and I got to work with my old friend Mariska [Hargitay], and I got to put a computer chip in Catherine Bell's arm.... That was a win-win!
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