You can’t quite be sure who you’re going to get when Dave Coulier takes the stage.
Matthew McConaughey, Popeye, Shaquille O’Neal, Rocky and Bullwinkle.
The stand-up comic, probably best known as Joey Gladstone on the popular ABC sitcom “Full House” from 1987 until its cancellation in 1995, is now known on stage for his many impressions of celebrities and cartoon characters.
He also plays the harmonica, offering his “harmoni-thoughts,” random comedy bits punctuated by some harmonica playing.
“When breakfast was done, my dad would start playing his harmonica,” Coulier said of his first introduction to the instrument years ago. “That’s when we knew to get up. ‘Oh breakfast is ready.’ ”
Growing up impersonating his neighbors, school coaches and principal, Coulier was a stand-up comic before landing his big break on “Full House.” He went on to host ABC’s “World’s Funnies Home Videos” and “America’s Funniest People,” and appear on various other television shows.
His most extensive body of work can be found in voice-overs for countless animated shows, such as “Extreme Ghostbusters,” “Muppet Babies” and “Robot Chicken.”
What Coulier is after these days is whatever it takes to make people laugh.
“Stand-up has such freedom. There’s no script. It’s what I script for myself. I can just kind of go many different directions up there if I want,” he said. “Being able to talk directly to the audience is a blast. ... You’re in the moment and anything can happen. I’m really going back to my roots.”
Coulier will perform his solo act 8 p.m. Jan. 18 at the Raue Center for the Arts, 26 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake.
Performing both solo and through Dave’s Clean Guys of Comedy touring group, now available on DVD at Redbox nationwide, Coulier’s comedy is described as family-friendly.
“It’s laughing without the F-bomb aftertaste,” Coulier said. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years. It’s just kind of a labor of love...
“So many people say to me when I walk off the stage, ‘Thanks for doing a clean show. It’s nice to not have to cringe after every joke.’ ”
Because of this and his “Full House” fan base, he draws a wide range of young and old fans to his shows. Parents who grew up watching the show bring children who’ve been introduced to it through syndication.
“I think women are more apt to come out and say, ‘I’m a huge ‘Full House’ fan,’ ” he said. “Guys are kind of like, ‘Oh, that’s a family show.’ ”
Though, he said, based on the statistics of those drawn to his website, men are just as apt to show interest as women.
Still, Coulier stressed, his stand-up routine is not a re-creation of an episode of “Full House.”
“This is just my brand of humor,” said Coulier, who’s constantly writing his routine. “I’ll hear something, and I know right away it’s going to go in. It’s just kind of a trial and error process.”
It’s a humor that grew out of childhood nights spent listening to his brother do impressions of family members.
“I would lay there and think, ‘He’s so much better than me,’ ” Coulier remembered. “My brother was really good at it. When I was 9 years old, I had this lightbulb moment of, ‘I’m going to be better than my brother.’ That was the impetus of my comedy career. I wanted to be better than my brother.”
His stand-up act has developed its own Dave Coulier following, but he’ll always be Joey Gladstone. And he’s OK with that.
The television show has its “Full House loyalists,” he said, living on through new generations.
“There’s something in the Kool-Aid with Full House, and we have no idea what it is,” Coulier said.
For the rare television viewer who hasn’t seen the show – Coulier once found it airing 14 times in one day on various channels – Coulier’s character was the best friend of Bob Saget’s character, Danny Tanner. He moved in to help raise Tanner’s daughters after the death of Tanner’s wife.
Buzz of a reunion show has surfaced, especially in the past year.
“I’m never going to say never. It would be really tough to get us all back together again,” Coulier said. “There’s been some serious talks about it ...
“We did 192 episodes, and it’s kind of hard to recreate this iconic picture people have in their minds about the show. It’s kind of frozen in time, and it’s become something different to each viewer. For us to come back, it almost kind of ruins that iconic image.”
As for Coulier returning to television, perhaps on a sitcom, he offered up the following: “That stuff is always kind of looming in the background. I have a couple projects coming up that I can’t talk about. I can’t say yes. I can’t say no at this point.”