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Jodie Sweetin channels 'Full House' dad Bob Saget with her 'inappropriate and dark' comedy

HOLLYWOOD-CA-MARCH 19, 2024: Actress-turned-comedian Jodie Sweetin is photographed at the Bourbon Room in Hollywood, where she performs a monthly show, on March 19, 2024. (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)
Actress-turned-comedian Jodie Sweetin is photographed at the Bourbon Room in Hollywood, where she performs a monthly show. (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

The lounge at Hollywood Boulevard’s storied Bourbon Room brimmed with pre-holiday spirit the Thursday before Thanksgiving. Actor Jodie Sweetin’s “Family Dinner” table welcomed comedians Justin Martindale, Paige Wesley and Jeff May onstage, each accepting a cocktail of choice.

The live comedy show highlights both inclusivity and tradition. There are, for example, games. “This year marks the 99th anniversary of the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade,” Sweetin noted. “We’re gonna take on some of the old, historical balloons and guess what the hell they were supposed to be. And I promise you, most of these monstrosities are super disappointing.” Black and white slides of a droopy Nantucket Sea Monster and racist brand mascots followed. An oversize clown filling the skyline sent an audience member shrieking for the door.

A woman looks at the camera.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

“I’m sorry, one of my really good friends here is absolutely terrified of clowns, and I forgot to warn her there’s a lot of clown slides,” Sweetin apologized. “We can’t drive by Circus Liquor without her freaking out.”

Food was brought to share. Sweetin unveiled mac ’n’ cheese. May contributed a Mrs. Fields cookie cake. Originally from Texas, Martindale came bearing homemade pico plus tamales like the ones his step-grandma made for holidays. She also introduced him to telenovelas and their “hot dudes who looked like centaurs.” The evening's tamales, Martindale boasted, he “actually got from a beautiful restaurant in Los Angeles called Pavillíons.”

Among Wesley’s family recipes are a garlic-artichoke dip called the Mancatcher and two kinds of “Great-Aunt Boots and her sister Hootie’s tinned candy: mini marshmallows, peanuts, Rice Krispies, peanut butter and either milk or white chocolate.”

Read more: The 60 best places to see stand-up comedy in L.A.

Tupperware makes the rounds. Martindale discusses his boyfriend. The chocolate-covered audience, known in “Family Dinner” parlance as the Kids Table, scribbles things they’re thankful for (drag queens, oversize bath towels). By show’s end, the room is a few drinks deep and hollering about bacon. Just like family.

Developed over the last year with producers Gil Baron, Ben Kuerschner and Sabrina Cognata, “Family Dinner” boasts an interactive community vibe and repeat audience members.

“The intent is fun camaraderie,” Sweetin says. “Sometimes we have real lovely conversations, and sometimes it goes completely off the rails. I tell the comics anything goes. It’s getting together and sharing stories about their family, about food, about the things that bring us together, and then making fun of each other about it. But always out of love.”

In the L.A. native’s 2009 memoir “UnSweetined,” she wrote about how her mother struggled with addiction. Her father was killed in prison. She was adopted by an uncle when she was 9 months old, took dance classes at age 3 and appeared on 1987’s “Full House” at age 5. Cycles of alcohol and drug abuse began at age 14, following the 1995 series' end.

Finally sober after years, Sweetin was featured on the 2015 reprise of “Fuller House,” then 2016’s “Dancing With the Stars” and a spate of gigs in holiday flicks. In 2022 alone, Sweetin appeared on “The Masked Singer” and “Name That Tune,” became runner-up on the ’90s celebrity edition of “Worst Cooks in America” and sobbed in the Panamanian jungle on reality competition “Beyond the Edge.”

“The last few years have been an exploration of another side of me that gets to be more in creative control of what I do and what I put out and what I think is funny,” Sweetin says. “So it’s been a nice change to be able to be more me and a little less just Stephanie.”

Along with her monthly show “Family Dinner” at the Bourbon Room, she’s appeared on the California Room stage at the Ice House, Jimmy Pardo’s “Pop Cultured” at UCB, “Stand-Up on the Spot” at the Comedy Store, Westside Comedy Theater’s “Pretty Pretty Pony,” “Untitled Improv Project,” “Funny AF” and Zach Sherwin’s “Crossword Show” at Dynasty Typewriter, even at Toluca Lake’s Mrs. Robinson’s Irish Pub.

The cast of Full House.
Jodie Sweetin, center, on Bob Saget's lap, along with the rest of the "Full House" cast in 1987. (Bob D'Amico / Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images)

“Comedy is the pressure release,” Sweetin says of her “inappropriate and dark” style. “We’ve got to let that pressure out or we’re all going to snap and explode. And a lot of times the world doesn’t really feel very funny but it’s important we don’t lose our sense of humor.”

After five seasons of parenting podcast “Never Thought I’d Say This” with mental health counselor Celia Behar, Sweetin co-hosts the new rewatch podcast “How Rude, Tanneritos!” with Andrea Barber, who played her TV neighbor Kimmy Gibbler.

“Jodie is so good at that improvisational quick wit,” Barber says. “I’ve been enjoying her humor for 37 years and it never gets old. There’s just no filter. It very much reminds me of Bob Saget and his type of humor, which was also just very unhinged at times, very inappropriate at times, but hysterical. He says the thing that everyone was thinking but not saying out loud, and now that’s Jodie. She says what everyone is thinking out loud and then elevates it.”

The two guested on Nov. 18’s “Pod Meets World Live” show at the Orpheum Theatre. They weren’t familiar with the beloved “Boy Meets World” sitcom characters and vice versa. During a game with Danielle Fishel, Rider Strong and Will Friedle, characters were projected onscreen and the opposing cast guessed their identity. Barber recalls, “Jodie and I were making up stuff like, 'Oh, this guy hates all the kids,' just spit-balling."

Afterward, in the green room, Barber wanted a picture. Sweetin picked up a flower vase resembling an urn, insisting they include it, addressing it as Bob.

“First you want to cringe, like, ‘Oh, my gosh. Did anyone hear that?’ Then she’s laughing: ‘Bob would be so proud of me for cracking this joke.’ ‘You know what? You’re right. Let’s take the picture with the urn and title it Andrea, Jodie and Bob.’”

Adds Barber, “That’s how Bob Saget got through a lot of tragedies in his life. After losing two sisters at a young age, he was still the guy cracking inappropriate jokes about his dead sisters.”

Sweetin credits Saget and castmate Dave Coulier for being supportive role models. “As an adult, Bob and I were always going back and forth joking, and I just absorbed so much. When we lost him, I realized how deeply comedy and stand-up comedians impacted my life. I learned no matter what the horrific situation, you can always make it funny.”

“She has a lot to draw upon,” Barber confirms. “She’s been through a lot of s— in her life, so the best way to deal with it is to be honest about it and make people laugh.”

On Thursday, a new “Family Dinner” at the Bourbon Room doubles as a celebration of Sweetin’s 42nd birthday. Beyond that, “I’ve gotten other offers to do stand-up sets. I just need to get back and start writing,” she says. “We need to have those brief moments where we can connect with other people and the world isn’t a complete garbage fire. Just like 98% .”

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.