Conspiracy theorists are incessantly sharing a joke Bob Saget made about his balls in a vain attempt to prove that the comedian died of complications from a COVID-19 vaccine.Saget, the notoriously raunchy funnyman and beloved star of wholesome 90s TV shows like Full House and America’s Funniest Home Videos, was found dead in an Orlando, Florida, hotel room on Jan. 9. The cause of death for the 65-year-old father of three has not been announced, other than to say it was sudden and unexpected, and that drugs or foul play were not involved. Saget was on tour during the time of his death and had performed the night before.
“Though we ask for privacy at this time, we invite you to join us in remembering the love and laughter that Bob brought to the world,” his family said in a statement.Unsurprisingly, popular figures in the COVID conspiracy community decided to ignore the family's request and instead make hay out of his death. COVID conspiracy websites are running headlines like: “SHOCK As Legendary Actor Bob Saget ‘Dies Suddenly’ 1 Month After Receiving COVID Booster Shot.” Others, so certain it was a vaccine-related death, mocked the comedian: “Bob Saget Died Shortly After Bragging He Loved Taking Covid Shots” reads an Infowars headline.Dozens upon dozens of videos tying Saget’s death to the vaccine have been uploaded to video sites with lax moderation rules, including Rumble and Bitchute. On Telegram, posts using his death to scare people from getting a booster have been shared countless times. More mainstream right-wing personalities have also chimed in. For example, Candace Owens, who has repeatedly peddled anti-COVID vaccine misinformation, tweeted shortly after Saget’s death, "Too many people are dying ‘suddenly and unexpectedly’ and the media is gaslighting the public by pretending it’s some sort of a conspiracy to point this out.”
Frankly, at this point, conspiracy influencers cynically using a person’s death to spin misinformation isn’t surprising. What is surprising is the role Saget's joke about his testicles plays in this.
Almost all of these posts, vlogs, and tweets use a video segment pulled from a December episode of Saget’s podcast, in which he discusses getting a booster. “Be careful out there, do what you have to do to be safe,” he says in the video, “I try not to preach, but I got my booster. I’m 65, so I got it and I was hurting.” At this point, some of the conspiracy theorists cut the video or, in the case of Infowars, stopped quoting the comedian, despite the remainder of his quote revealing how Saget is actually making a joke about his balls.“I’ve been telling people I got it in my ass, but I got it right below my balls because I wanted them to get bigger,” he continues, a mischievous grin appearing on his face. “That’s a real booster, raises you an inch off your chair.”The video is being shared widely online by anti-vaxxers—as is a similar video in which Saget jokes about getting a booster shot in his ass. Both videos were taken from a December 13 podcast episode where fans called in. Another post from the summer in which Saget tweeted, “I get vaccinated five to six times a day and I feel great!!” is also being shared as well by conspiracy theorists. COVID-19 has killed over 830,000 Americans, and serious side effects from the various vaccines are very rare. Saget's death is just the most recent celebrity death being exploited for misinformation. In the past few months similar incidents have occurred surrounding the death of Saget’s close friend Norm MacDonald, and Betty White. MacDonald died after a lengthy but private battle with leukemia, and Betty White was 99 when she passed away a few days after suffering a stroke. At this point, the shameless exploitation of a famous person’s death to push anti-vaccine rhetoric should be expected for the duration of the pandemic, if not longer.It’s a small consolation, but considering Saget’s love of a dirty joke, he probably would smile knowing some of the worst folks on the internet are obsessively discussing his balls. Follow Mack Lamoureux on Twitter.