The evening after Bob Saget was found dead in his Florida hotel room, comedian Moses Storm tweeted, “in a non-promo-this-is-about-me-way, anyone that has seen the show I have been touring the last year, knows that Bob Saget sincerely meant a great deal to me and my family. Our hearts go out to his family. He will be missed and my mom still thinks he owes her 10k.”
He was talking about what is essentially the centerpiece of his excellent new stand-up special Trash White, which premieres on HBO Max today, Jan. 20, less than two weeks after Saget’s tragic death.
“I get why people, when a celebrity dies, post a Getty image of them and be like, ‘This person meant a lot to me,’” Storm told me on this week’s episode of The Last Laugh podcast. “You found a way to make this about you and how sad you are.” But still, given the role that Saget plays in his new hour, he felt he had to say something.
In the special, which was filmed months earlier in Los Angeles, Storm reveals that the stage he’s been performing on is also a giant screen. The moment comes during an extended bit about his mother’s quest to get her desperately poor family on America’s Funniest Home Videos—when they weren’t proselytizing on street corners as part of a religious doomsday cult. Over the next several minutes, we watch the many outtakes from just one of their attempts to stage a prank in which a bag of flour “falls” off the counter and onto one of his sibling’s heads.
Storm’s family—spoiler alert!—never won the big prize on AFHV, but they did receive a $200 appearance fee for being part of the cold open segment. We then see the clip as it appeared on the show, with Saget’s rather banal narration: “These kids cook just like my grandmother used to. A pinch of this, a bag of that.”
So when I talked to Storm last week, I asked him about the strange confluence of events and what Saget really meant to him as both a comedian and the man who represented a “way out” for his family. And while he acknowledged that it’s “tacky” to share how much he made for his HBO Max special, Storm said that all these years later, he was finally able to get his mother her $10,000.
Below is an edited excerpt from our conversation. You can listen to the whole thing—including how he went from his family’s doomsday cult to stand-up comedy success—right now by subscribing to ‘The Last Laugh’ on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, Stitcher, Amazon Music, or wherever you get your podcasts, and be the first to hear new episodes when they are released every Tuesday.
Can you explain how Bob Saget ended up playing this unexpected role in your special?
Bob legitimately meant a lot to us growing up. Essentially, Bob Saget, in our heads, was picking the videos at his house and giving us his 10 grand. So my mom, as a job, aggressively tried to get us on America’s Funniest Home Videos. So we’d rent a camera and two six-hour tapes every single week and she would just brainstorm, try to come up with bits with the kids. And it wasn’t this fun thing. We were submitting them and she would get angry. And rightfully so, it’s hard to do bits. And she would try to get us on the show and keep submitting tapes because it was a cash cow. It was a way out. So growing up, in my head, Bob Saget was the richest person alive. I was like, he probably has a million dollars! Could you imagine such an amount? I’ve always had this very warm feeling towards him. So if I could make it about me, it hit me really hard. And there was a part of me that was hoping to meet him after this.
I was wondering if you ever got a chance to meet him or tell him what he meant to your family.
No. For the past year, I’ve been do-si-doing with him at different comedy clubs. It’d be like, ‘Next week, Bob Saget!’ And then I was in West Nyack, New York, in a mall, and there’s an improv above an indoor go-kart, so you know things are going all right. And someone had told Bob Saget that I had played the video and was talking about him the week before, and then he sent me a very nice message. Because I don’t say anything mean about him. There’s some light ribbing. And I even ran it in my head, like, could this come off as mean in any way? Because I did want to meet him. There was even an idea to have him at the end, in the credits, present a check, one of those big Publishers Clearing House checks.
That would have been pretty funny.
Yeah, it would’ve been a nice, sweet moment, but I didn’t have enough money for Bob Saget at the time. Now I wish I would’ve put more into that, of course. He was someone that meant a lot to us growing up. He represented a way out and represented a show that we were allowed to watch. We weren’t allowed to watch a lot of TV—essentially no TV—growing up. But we were allowed to watch that one show because it was research. Like, OK, what works? If you do a hit-in-the-nuts video, you just get put in a montage. You don’t want to be in a montage, you want your own video. So you need dialogue. It needs to be a big stunt. So that was an escape for us, outside of all the cult religion stuff and just poverty. We were allowed to watch that show under the guidelines of research. So in my head, he was the most famous person and someone that informed what I do now.
How do you think the way you grew up affected the way you think about things like money and fame and success now?
I’m terrified to spend the money. I’m afraid every day that I’m going to end up back there. So what I did is I paid for a good portion of things in the special, because that I could justify. So the one thing I do spend money on is putting it back into the show as an investment for the future. But the whole special itself is a grift. It’s exactly what my mom did. What I learned from my mom is that you say exactly what the thing is that you’re not going to do, and then you do it. So that was a more interesting way to show forgiveness for me. Say ‘I forgive her,’ but then also look at what you taught me. Look at this big old grift. We turned trash into something beautiful, into something that works for us. We turned these outtakes that never made it on America’s Funniest Home Videos into a funnier video. It’s taking all these scraps, taking all these pieces of trash and grifting it into a show. And if it works, it’s like, “Well, that’s the special!”
Next week on ‘The Last Laugh’ podcast: breakout star of ‘The Sex Lives of College Girls,’ Amrit Kaur.