Whether you know it or not, you’ve heard of Dave Coulier.
More than likely, you’ve HEARD Dave Coulier. The veteran voice actor has won awards lending his talents to the “Muppet Babies,” “The Real Ghostbusters,” and even “Scooby Doo.” He’s now the voice you hear when listening to Kellogg’s Raisin Bran commercials. Oh, and he was a on a little TV show back in the late 1980s-early 1990s called “Full House.” Cut. It. Out. Got it.
The man who would give life to the character Joey Gladstone will bring his stand up to Jammin’ Java at 8 p.m. on Aug. 11. A&E spoke with Coulier about his choice not to swear in his shows, what it was like working on “Full House,” and even his time dating Alanis Morissette and that jagged little song she wrote.
A&E: Growing up, did you know you wanted to be a performer?
Coulier: I was always very enamored with comedians. I come from a very large family – I mean, seven uncles on just my dad’s side and then two uncles on my mom’s side. I always tell people I’ve pulled more fingers than an orthopedic surgeon growing up. But I had a very funny family. What we did was we watched “The Tonight Show” ... if it was one of those nights where it wasn’t a school night, we could stay up and watch Johnny Carson and we always wanted to see the comedian. So I remember with family gatherings, all the adults would sit at one table and would rehash the jokes from the night before and tell jokes and I always wanted to be at that adult table. So what I started doing was, I started doing impressions of my aunts and my uncles and my grandparents and cousins and that’s how I got noticed – with my comedy. So that’s kind of where I started.
A&E: Where your parents supportive? When you were in high school doing impressions, did you get in trouble a lot and did they have to sit you down and talk with you about it?
Coulier: Yeah, there were some occasions where my parents got called, but by the time I got to high school … I wasn’t doing it like I was mocking someone. I kind of figured out a way where I could endear them to their own impression. For instance, when I was in high school, I could do a dead-on impression of our principal. And he liked it. So he said why don’t you just do the announcements in the morning doing an impression of me. I said, “Seriously?” He said, “Yeah, that way I don’t have to do it and you can have some fun.” There was another guy I grew up with named Mark Cendrowski who now directs a TV show called “The Big Bang Theory.” Mark and I have known each other since we were 9 years old. We used to write funny sketches and we would do them over the PA system in high school.
A&E: What can you tell me about the Clean Guys of Comedy?
Coulier: I’ve heard from so many people over the years, “You didn’t swear, thanks for not swearing. I’m here with my parents or my boss or I was here with my kids. We noticed that you didn’t swear once.” You hear that enough times and you realize that people, I think, appreciate that because you can see filthy stuff anywhere now. So I think clean has kind of become a novelty for people. I’m not a prude. I love Richard Pryor and George Carlin, Sam Kinison and Chris Rock. I love that kind of humor. It makes me laugh very hard. I love a lot of the comedians that are around right now, but I think people want to laugh without that F-bomb aftertaste sometimes. So my style from coming up the ranks of “The Tonight Show” when Johnny Carson was hosting … if you wanted to be on “The Tonight Show,” you had to work clean. I always thought, well, if I just work clean, I’ll never have to edit myself. That’s just kind of been my style over all these years. So “Clean Guys” was really that idea and expanding it to “What if we had a national forum for comedians to come on and do — instead of six minutes on ‘The Tonight Show,’ — they could 20 minutes and stretch it out and do a longer set?” That was the idea and we brought it Fathom and Fathom said we absolutely love that because we can play that in theaters nationwide. So we partnered with them. I have two other business partners – one in Park City and one in Denver – and it took us three years to put this deal together. But now Sept. 19 is our first “Clean Guys” date and I think people are excited about it that anybody can come to the show and they’re not going to hear a lot of swearing.
A&E: So, more times than not, when you’re doing tours and out on stage, it’s going to be clean? It’s going to be a family-friendly experience?
Coulier: I would say “family friendly” for, like, a 5 year old. [Laughs] I wouldn’t be bringing little kids to a night club. My standup is definitely not an episode of “Full House.” It’s not dumbed down. I’m not going to be doing jokes for 5 year olds. It’s my style of humor and anybody can come and watch it. They’re not going to hear swearing, but it is my point of view of being an adult. I’m not saying that everything is politically, super politically correct. I’m not saying there’s not suggestive humor, but it is, I think, a lot cleaner than what you can see on HBO, Showtime, Comedy Central or a lot of stuff that’s out there.
A&E: You mention “Full House” … it’s been off the air now for almost 20 years, yet people all over the world still love the show. Did you ever think in the beginning that the show would be as successful as it was?
Coulier: We had no idea. No one can calculate that kind of success. Shows like “Seinfeld,” were ranked in the 60s, you know? They just stuck with that show. We were a struggling show that had to find its audience, but once we did our audience latched on to us to 25 million viewers every week. There’s something in the Kool-Aid with “Full House,” we can’t really define it and we don’t really know what it is but there’s a certain chemistry that young people really respond to. I think it’s a safe haven – I think a lot of people know that it’s a safe haven for television viewing. It’s kind of like, for people who grew up watching “Full House,” and they watch it again with some nostalgia now. Almost like television comfort food for them. You know, you have no idea when you’re starting out this thing is going to be this gigantic hit. It took us some time, but we became this iconic sitcom and I think we’re all very proud of that.
A&E: Does it ever bother you when people come up and see you as Joey Gladstone before seeing you as Dave Coulier?
Coulier: No. When you’re a comedian just starting out, you pray every day for a “Full House.” So I never get bothered. We have great fans and I embrace them. I’ve heard actors say, “Oh, that’s in the past and I’m no longer that character and this and that.” For me, I’ve always thought why would I take all of these loyal fans who love the show and love what we did and pretend that they’re not there and that I had moved on from them? That, to me, seems counterproductive to everything you strive for in this business.
A&E: You’ve done a lot of work voice acting. How did that come about?
Coulier: I’ve always done voices. I’ve always done caricatures, mimicking and impressions. When I first got to Los Angeles, someone said “You should make up a demo tape and send it to Hanna-Barbera. You’re pretty good at mimicking and cartoon voices …” So I dropped my tape off on a Friday and on Monday, I got a call to work on “Scooby Doo.” That was the first show that I worked on. Back then, cartoons were a real specialty. So there were a handful of people who did a lot of different voices. Now, they just cast … “Oh, we want Patton Oswalt to do the voice,” so they just get Patton Oswalt. Back then, it was different. When I was 20 years old working on “Scooby Doo,” word got out quickly that there was this young guy who could do voices. So I went from show to show and I became kind of a professional copycat for awhile. I’ve copycatted Tom Hanks’ voice, I’ve copycatted Robin Williams’ voice, Bill Murray, Rick Moranis – just a lot of copycat jobs along the way. Richard Pryor. I looped Richard Pryor’s voice in a movie called “Another You,” where I had to dub over all the swear words so they could release it to television. So I’ve had a very interesting voice-over life. It’s been extremely rewarding – winning a couple of Emmys with Jim Henson for “Muppet Babies.” I’ve been really fortunate to work with some amazing people … Mel Blanc and Daws Butler. That’s something that a lot of people don’t know that I do it because they don’t see me doing it. But people have heard me more times than they probably want to.
A&E: If you had to pick one – voice acting or being in front of the camera or on stage – which would you prefer?
Coulier: When I was younger, in front of the camera because there’s nothing like that feeling of either live performing or working to an audience. To me, I was always intrigued by that. Now that I’m older, voice overs are great because I wake up, put some shorts and sandals on, a T-shirt, and go to work and no one cares what you look like.
A&E: You’ve got a guest spot coming up on “How I Met Your Mother.” Could you tell me a little about that?
Coulier: One of the producers was a producer on “Full House.” So he called me up and said, “Hey, we’re doing this Canadian thing on ‘How I Met Your Mother’ and it’s kind of an Alanis Morissette parody. You dated her a long time ago and would you come on and kind of spoof yourself?” I said, “Heck, yeah, it sounds funny.” And it was that simple. I called my manager and said, “Hey, what do you think?” He said, “Yeah, absolutely do it.” So that was it. We shot it and it took about 20 minutes to shoot and it was a really big episode for them.
A&E: Just to bring it up and get it out of the way, do you ever get tired of people bringing up the Alanis thing to you?
Coulier: Well, it was a part of my life. It doesn’t bother me at all. It was actually a really nice part of my life. She was — and is — an incredible person. We dated for a year and a half, almost two years and then this record comes out called “Jagged Little Pill” and a lot of people assumed it was me because I guess I was the nearest boyfriend to that time. But no, I don’t … it’s a part of my life and I’m not sick of my own part in my life. [Laughs] It was and it is what it is. I mean, it’s really old information now. But people are ... curious about it so I’ll answer their questions about it. I’m very open that way.
A&E: Being the big hockey fan that you are, how bummed out were you about the playoffs this year?
Coulier: I was bummed out about the season not starting with the lockout. So I was kinda bummed out about that. I almost think the NHL should shorten their season. It was kind of a better season the way it panned out. I’m a big Red Wings fan and for as banged up as the Red Wings were this year, they went a heck of a long way with what they had. I think Chicago had an amazing year, just an amazing year. I love hockey, so anytime you can see that kind of a story unfold, I think it’s great for hockey and great for the fans.
A&E: We talked about the “Clean Guys of Comedy” coming out in theaters and you’re on tour now, what’s down the road for you?
Coulier: I just finished writing a movie called “Santa’s Shrink” so I’ll be shopping that around, as they say. I’ve got an animated series that I’m developing with my old friend Mark Cendrowski once again. I’m the voice of Kellogg’s Raisin Bran, so I keep busy with Kellogg’s. I have a little documentary that I’m shooting called “Glorified Birthday Clown.” So I’m probably going to release that probably a little before “Clean Guys” comes out. There’s lots of projects in the works. I also have a new hour of standup that I’m working on – I want to do an hour special. And I’ll probably have a tour next year that will be pretty extensive, coming off of the “Clean Guys” stuff. So there’s lots of stuff in the works that keeps me busy. A lot of stuff people don’t know about, but I’m busy.
A&E: What do you hope people take away from your shows?
Coulier: I hope they just laugh. That’s all a comedian can hope for is that they laugh. Whatever reason they’re coming to laugh, whether it’s just because they love to laugh or they’re coming to forget about their troubles for a couple of hours. My job is to put them in that place for an hour, hour and 15 minutes I’m on stage. If I can do that, then that’s my hope. It’s a really simple formula.