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Our Interview With Dave Coulier, Uncle Joey From “Full House”

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We got a chance to speak to former “Full House” star and standup comic, Dave Coulier, about his life, the past, the future, and getting kicked out of Vegas stage shows with John Stamos. Coulier is currently on tour and you can find information about his upcoming shows on his website. He’s also got an awesome collection of T-shirts and memorabilia on there, too.

Brian: You were a huge star in the ’80s and ’90s on “Full House,” but what have you been doing lately?

Dave Coulier: Well, I’ve returned to standup comedy, which has been a blast. I’m playing all over the country. A lot of theater gigs, performing arts centers, comedy clubs, casinos. I think I’m having more fun with my standup now than I’ve ever had. I don’t have a way to explain that, it just is. It’s just really a blast connecting with all those “Full House” fans who I guess are hanging out and getting hammered in night clubs now.

Brian: You’re a huge hockey fan. You grew up in Michigan. Now you’re in L.A., so I’ve gotta get your thoughts on the Stanley Cup.

DC: You know, it’s been incredible living here in Los Angeles and watching what the Kings have done. Because for so many years, they weren’t even contenders. They got close in the Gretzky years, but it’s been amazing watching them evolve into this Stanley Cup contender. What they did with Chicago–and Chicago’s a great team, and I thought they’d give them a harsher run for their money–but they got it done. I think the Rangers are gonna have a tough time beating the Kings.

Brian: Everyone knows you by the signature Red Wings jersey in the opening credits. Which producer did you have to bribe to get that into the show?

DC: When you grow up in Detroit, you’re a big Red Wings fan. When “Full House” started, I just wanted to work that into the show, and back then, you didn’t have to pay all these royalty fees to the NHL or the owners and you could just wear what you wanted. So, I just worked that in and I knew if I wore it in the opening titles it would run for every show if the show got picked up.

Brian: Somebody’s gotta owe you some sort of royalties for how many jerseys you helped sell.

DC: Yeah, I know. Believe me, the owners of the Red Wings, Mr. and Mrs. Illitch, have thanked me many times for that.

Brian: Who’s your favorite Red Wing of all time?

DC: Gordie Howe. Mr. Hockey. I went to his hockey school as a kid at Gordie Howe Hockeyland in my hometown.

Brian: Do you have a favorite moment from “Full House”?

DC: I’ve never really watched the show. I know that sounds strange. I’ve only seen a couple episodes in their entirety. I have lots of memories, but I’m sure one day I’ll sit down and have my own “Full House” marathon. When I have seen the show, it was when we were watching dailies back in the day. I’m a very harsh critic of myself. It was hard to watch. I’m the last person I ever want to watch. So, the favorite moments I have were on set. There were a lot of them. In the early years, I tried to convince Mary Kate and Ashley [Olsen] that if they ran really fast, flapped their arms and said, “tweet, tweet,” that they could get airborne. So we were running around the stage, and they were probably four or five, running around flapping their arms just saying, “tweet, tweet, tweet,” over and over again. Tweeting has evolved into something different now.

Brian: Do you embrace the Uncle Joey character recognition? Does it get old?

DC: I totally embrace it, because we’ve got really awesome fans and when you’re a comedian just starting out, you prayed for a “Full House” every day of your life, and it happened. So I would never turn around and bad mouth a show that gave me not only such a great career moment, but some really incredible friends.

Brian: You can tell you’re cool with being known for it. It wasn’t more apparent than when you did that sketch with John Stamos, Bob Saget, and Jimmy Fallon. How did that happen?

DC: John had been a spokesman for Dannon Oikos yogurt for years and they wanted to do something big for the Super Bowl, so John pitched them the idea of the three of us being together in their Super Bowl commercial. They tested it for three months and it was through the roof. So, we booked the deal together to appear in the ad for Dannon and, of course, we had to do the dog and pony show with the press. We went to New York and Jimmy Fallon said he’d love for us to be guests and that he was such a huge fan. He pitched us an idea to do a cold opening for the show, so we said yeah and they sent it to us and it was really funny. Jimmy, of course, ended up being in the sketch and we thought that it was either gonna be really funny or really bad. At least that was my thought, and it turned out to be this classic sketch and we had no idea when we got to New York that we’d be met with such enthusiasm by Jimmy and his entire staff and crew. We did “The View” and they were big fans. We did “Good Morning America” and Rihanna photobombed us. It was a pretty amazing ride. It was really great to have all this attention and it kind of took me by surprise after all these years, but the best part of it is that John and Bob are kind of like my brothers. It was really fun to be able to just kind of kick back and have a great time with those two guys.

Brian: Do you prefer sketch comedy to standup?

DC: I started as a standup comedian. The beauty of standup is that I get to make my own words funny. I get to write the script and I get to perform it and I get to feel that immediate adrenaline rush of when you write something funny and audiences respond to the way you’re performing it. Sketch comedy is a little bit different. You work with other actors on stage. It’s the same thing with sitcoms and television. You have to make the writer’s words funny. With standup, it’s just a total freedom to be out there. Like I said, the “Full House” fans are really great and they come out for the shows to see me and I tell people my standup isn’t an episode “Full House.” It’s my standup. It’s much different from my buddy Bob Saget’s, who I affectionately call my silky Jewish sister.

Brian: One of the things that made “Full House” so great was that it came in a great era for hair. Where do you think your mullet ranks in the all-time hierarchy of mullets?

DC: Oh man, there were some pretty impressive mullets. I don’t know where mine ranks. I didn’t have a super mullet. You see the guys with the shaved sides and the silky long hair. I don’t know. I’m probably somewhere in the middle of the pack, because I was on a widely known television series. There are some hockey mullets that I’m not even on the same level as.

Brian: Everyone has a signature that makes him or her a great TV character. Where did “cut it out” come from?

DC: I stole it from one of my best friends in the world, Mark Cendrowski. That name might not be familiar to you, but he directs “The Big Bang Theory.” Mark and I have known each other since we were eight years old. When we were kids, we were always writing comedy bits. We were big “Three Stooges” fans and “Monty Python” fans. After we graduated from high school, we had written and produced shows. I used to do the announcements at school and I used to impersonate my principal and he got wind of it. He said, “Well, why don’t you do the announcements in my voice and get that crazy Cendrowski fella of yours and you guys write it?” When I started doing standup comedy, Mark said why not do a duo for awhile? So we were a comedy duo called C and Ski. He used to do this character where he unbuttoned his shirt and exposed his nipples then look down at a lady in the front row and say, “I know what you’re thinking. You better cut it out.” I told him, you know what? I’m gonna steal that and use it someday. I hosted a show on Nickelodeon called “Out of Control” and it became a catchphrase on the show. When “Full House” came along, I ad libbed it in a taping one night and the producer said you gotta do that “cut it out” thing. The audience laughed so hard at it. To this day, Mark still tells me, “You so owe me for stealing ‘cut it out.’ ”

Brian: You’re really well known for your voiceover work. You did “Muppet Babies” and “Ghostbusters” and a bunch of Saturday morning cartoons. When did you realize you had a special talent for that?

DC: My brother was a great mimic. He would do voices. So he and I used to sit on our front porch and we used to call it “narrating the neighborhood.” He would take someone across the street and I would take someone driving by. He could do my uncles’ voices and everybody loved it. It was so on the money and made me laugh so hard. We would lay in our bunk beds and he’d make me laugh so hard. Our dad would have to come into our room to tell us to knock it off. I took all those experiences, and being a jock and a hockey player in the locker room, I had a captive audience. We’d be putting our gear on and I would do impressions of players or our coach or different guys in the league. That’s when I realized I could make people laugh with my voice.

Brian: There’s gotta be an incredible untold story about you, John Stamos, and Bob Saget. It was the ’80s and you were in California.

DC: Well, Bob was married for a lot of that time, so mostly it was me and John. We became thick as thieves right out of the gate. We had so much fun hanging out. We became instant friends. We’d go to Hawaii or Vegas. The first trip we took, we decided to go to Vegas–we laughed so hard. We went to the Wayne Newton show and I was blowing hand farts in the back of the room. We invented this thing called the “power laugh,” and during the show, when Wayne cracked a joke, I’d laugh really loud. I’m surprised we didn’t get booted out of there because we were acting like idiots. We actually got thrown out of the Liberace Museum because we were laughing too hard.

Brian: Do you watch much TV now?

DC: There are some shows I really love. I love “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” I thought it was so brilliantly done. Larry David was so funny in it. I don’t watch a whole lot of sitcoms–I tend to watch a lot of sports. I watch NatGeo and Discovery, and “Cosmos” is my new favorite show. I do have some favorite shows. I love “The Newsroom,” with Jeff Daniels. I love “Game of Thrones” and a lot of those HBO series like “Boardwalk Empire.” I don’t watch a whole lot of sitcoms, just because I think it’s kind of ruined me because I know the process so well. I’ll be sitting there just critiquing, not enjoying. I’ll say, “that’s a writer’s joke” or “they should’ve had a better punchline there.” My inner dialogue ruins the actual performance.

Brian: Is there any chance we can get a Jackalope reboot in the future?

DC: I always thought the Jackalope would’ve been a great spinoff.

Brian: It would’ve been a viral YouTube hit.

DC: Yeah, it would’ve been interesting to project “Full House” and “America’s Funniest People” into the social media world of today. Just to see. It would be interesting to see the world that would be created virally around those shows. I don’t own the rights to the Jackalope. When we finished “Full House,” they gave me the Mr. Woodchuck puppet and my dog, Ranger, ate the face off. Jimmy Fallon wanted me to bring it to New York when we did the show and I had to tell him that my dog ate it. His props department made me a new Mr. Woodchuck, which was just unbelievably awesome. When we were finished, Jimmy said he’d love for me to have this woodchuck, and that was really cool.

Brian: Is there anything you wish you would’ve done back then? It sounds like your plate was pretty full.

DC: It was. I was a new dad, too. My son was born in 1990. That was right in the heart of “Full House,” “America’s Funniest People,” “Muppet Babies,” and “Ghostbusters,” and trying to be a standup comic and a dad. There wasn’t a whole lot of time. When all of those shows ended in 1995, I took a breather and turned down a lot of offers. I had completely burned out. I was doing a standup gig with Dennis Miller in a 9,000-seat venue in Detroit and I went on stage, opened the show and did my 45 minutes. Halfway in, I just left my body and started talking to myself while I was doing standup. I had this whole inner dialogue going, “You know what? You’re burned out, buddy. You are burned out. I can’t believe you’re up here right now telling these jokes and the audience has no idea that you’re sitting here having a conversation with yourself.” This went on for about 10 minutes and I just said, “Oh, man. I’m starting to hear my own conscience while I’m doing standup. This is not good. I’m burned out.” I got off stage and that was it. I stopped doing standup for a number of years after that night. I had to give myself a break. I had to stop. I told too many jokes.

To see where Dave is performing next, check out his website for ticket and venue info.

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Brian McGannon

What do I love? I love happy hour, a good golf tan, and getting moderately drunk during dinner.

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