The Paint Roller AskMe's shared memory hits 2019 television March 23, 2019 3:24 PM   Subscribe

So you remember the askme from 5 years ago where we all tried to figure out what 80's tv show/intro had a character stepping through a door and getting slathered with paint as they did? Well, this recent 1980's themed Progressive insurance commercial has been airing during the current NCAA tournament, and at 18 seconds in, guess what happens. A character opens a door and gets a paint roller across their chest. This doesn't resolve the question, but perhaps the answer is out there, somewhere. We can't all be making this up, right?
posted by cashman to MetaFilter-Related at 3:24 PM (69 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

Yes, we collectively made this up. It was mass hysteria. Now please stop making me crazy with this.

Stop making me crazy.

Do you see how crazy I am?
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 3:33 PM on March 23 [16 favorites]


I honestly thought it was something from the Monkee's, but Mickey Dolenz only gets his head in a cake, or maybe Three's Company, which is popular, but no one has proved right.

I also have this in my psyche, and have hunted high and low to find it, but no luck. It's almost back to Soupy Sales and Lucy era.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 3:35 PM on March 23 [2 favorites]


God dammit.
posted by duffell at 3:42 PM on March 23 [26 favorites]


I think it was an old Three Stooges thing. Look at this. Not quite the right episode, but close. If someone like I grew up watching old Three Stooges on TV, they might have seen something like that.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 3:54 PM on March 23 [1 favorite]


I think it might have been the TV show "Arnie" with Herschel Bernardi.
posted by KazamaSmokers at 4:03 PM on March 23 [1 favorite]


I’ve never been confused about the spelling of Berenstain, the death of Nelson Mandela, or Sinbad movies, but this remains my evidence for the alternate universe theory.

Also, Progressive owes some royalties to the creators of Too Many Cooks. Because it takes a lot to make a stew.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:08 PM on March 23 [9 favorites]


1968: "In the first episode of Black Journal, before the opening credits [about 1:30 to 2:00 or so], comedian Godfrey Cambridge appears dressed in overalls and a painter’s cap with a paint roller in hand and methodically paints the television frame." (Clearly not it, but it is an early TV joke involving coveralls and a paint roller.)

The 11-y.-o. asked me what I was reading and I told her. She said "I KNOW THIS! I KNOW THIS SHOW!" and I was like no, honey, you just think you do, and now she is off to Google, fruitlessly, so there's her Saturday night sorted.
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:09 PM on March 23 [38 favorites]


This AV Club article reviews an oral history about the Adult Swim faux sitcom Too Many Cooks, noting that "[a]t one point, the early “draft” of Too Many Cooks was just 40 or 50 TV show intros combined, with [creator Casper] Kelly then storyboarding in clichéd sitcom gags like running the paint roller over somebody’s face and the dad screwing up the timer on a photo.

30 seconds into the accompanying video, it happens.
posted by carmicha at 4:15 PM on March 23 [6 favorites]


And again at 9:20 with different characters.
posted by carmicha at 4:26 PM on March 23 [1 favorite]


I think they saw the hubbub here (and elsewhere) and seized upon it, perhaps in a fit of inspired 21st century marketing. Thus making the collective memory née hallucinations into reality.

Clever, really.
posted by SaltySalticid at 4:29 PM on March 23 [3 favorites]


Thus making the collective memory née hallucinations into reality.

The TV intro on the tips of our tongues was the color of an accidental paint roller, tuned to a consensual hallucination.
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:37 PM on March 23 [17 favorites]


> This AV Club article reviews an oral history about the Adult Swim faux sitcom Too Many Cooks,

And here's bondcliff's MeFi post about about the Too Many Cooks oral history (and the paintroller thing).
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 4:53 PM on March 23 [1 favorite]


I swear the house in the commercial in the OP is the same layout from the house in"Everybody Loves Raymond".
posted by sundrop at 6:53 PM on March 23


And here's bondcliff's MeFi post about about the Too Many Cooks oral history (and the paintroller thing.

Whoops! I should've known...
posted by carmicha at 7:39 PM on March 23


Horace Rumpole: "Because it takes a lot to make a stew."

A pinch of salt and laughter, too.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:37 PM on March 23 [1 favorite]




Oops... I meant season 3, episode 16. And

HERE IT IS: Time stamp ~24:12
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:01 PM on March 23 [20 favorites]


Wait...was I looking for the wrong thing?

This is the second night in a row I'm going to bed to avoid saying more stuff that makes me look dumb on Metafilter.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:04 PM on March 23


That shot is certainly the closest thing we've seen yet, I think.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:18 PM on March 23 [1 favorite]


This thread led me to see Too Many Cooks for the first time. So there’s that.

I still think it was Ted Knight and JM Bullock in this scene. Maybe in a recut intro for syndication? Of course, now I am doubting ALL my memories. Fellow mefites if a certain age, that was a thing in the early 80’s, right? Intros recut for syndication?
posted by Nancy_LockIsLit_Palmer at 6:22 AM on March 24 [6 favorites]


The interior paint colors in that commercial don't look right for the 1980s, at least in my memory.

The best paint roller scene is of course the one in the film Delicatessen. (No nudity, but still just a tad NSFW.)
posted by Dip Flash at 6:49 AM on March 24 [3 favorites]


I think it was an old Three Stooges thing....If someone like I grew up watching old Three Stooges on TV, they might have seen something like that.

MMD--from 1952, the Three Stoooges in "Gents in a Jam," which has painters in coveralls, a doorway meeting, and an accidental painting turning into a paintbrush fight (1:35-1:50 or so).

ETA: "[ Moe walks over to a side of a wall and begins painting from the top. Larry comes from the other side of the same wall, painting from the bottom. He unknowingly paints over Moe’s shoe. Moe stops painting and makes an angry expression. Larry paints up the wall quickly, and raises his brush too high and slaps Moe right in the face. ]" Source
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:21 AM on March 24 [1 favorite]


If you look closely in the background, you can also see that picture of a thunderbird nailed to the side of a barn. Its wingspan is the size of all six cowboys posing in front of it!
posted by yhbc at 7:33 AM on March 24 [3 favorites]


They definitely did the paint roller gag once on Candle Cove, but I think it was with blood rather than paint.
posted by dephlogisticated at 3:12 PM on March 24 [13 favorites]


I just saw this commercial and was going to comment on it in this thread featuring a little paint roller derail, but found this instead. I have faith that if the internet keeps plugging away there will be a definitive answer (or perhaps even answers). I was inspired by this story about a long-lost Sesame Street cartoon that was eventually found by persistent internet sleuthing.
posted by TedW at 5:56 PM on March 24


It is absolutely, definitely not The Monkees, or The Three Stooges. It was later than that, and also, I have never seen an episode of either of those shows, and this wasd something I watched often. I remember seeing it more than once. (We also never watched The Facts of Life.) It was a woman, and it was in color -- that rules out the Stooges.
posted by sarcasticah at 7:15 PM on March 24


(Also, this question is going to haunt me until I die. My deathbed words will be "No, it wasn't Three's Company or The Facts of Life...")
posted by sarcasticah at 7:16 PM on March 24 [5 favorites]


I can't believe the original question was posted almost 5 years ago.
posted by Fig at 4:24 AM on March 25 [10 favorites]


If we ever truly resolve this question, there had better be a fucking challenge coin
posted by duffell at 6:48 AM on March 25 [17 favorites]


It was a woman,

I don't remember it being a woman, FWIW.
posted by cooker girl at 7:00 AM on March 25 [4 favorites]


I definitely do.
posted by sarcasticah at 8:06 AM on March 25


the Facts of Life clip If only I had a penguin... posted is definitely the paint roller scene that I remember, so I'm going to go ahead and close this ticket on my end.
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:16 AM on March 25 [10 favorites]


I was 100% sure it wasn't FoL or 3C but the second I saw the clip, yeah, that's it.

--except it should be blue paint--

I'm kidding! That's the clip for me.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 11:40 AM on March 25 [7 favorites]


I feel like this could have been a gag in a Disney Chip and Dale cartoon. I can almost see it. I also have the false memory of the live-action opening credits shot, but damned if I can think of any shows.

There are a *lot* of sitcoms out there. Maybe we should start a google doc of ones that definitely don't have it in their normal intros and start there. If it's from a special recut intro, or a commercial, or something else... we might well be doomed forever... Hey, does anybody know the people from Too Many Cooks? Like, someone email 'em for darn sakes. Can someone pitch this story to like, idk, Vox? Let's maximize the crowdsource on this!
posted by wires at 11:45 AM on March 25 [2 favorites]


Turns out I was also thinking of the Facts of Life. As soon as Natalie sat down on the couch, I knew. Good luck to the rest of you! yes I said yes I will Yes and I will be over here with If I only had a penguin...
posted by Ruki at 3:37 PM on March 25 [2 favorites]


If any of us gains access to time travel, we're going to have to spend hours binge-watching 90s sitcoms as they originally aired.

I believe we can safely limit to Fridays on ABC, but probably best to just watch them all. Simultaneously, because time travel.
posted by asperity at 3:59 PM on March 25


I will forever imagine this as from Laverne and Shirley, though I know that has been officially debunked. To my GRAVE, I say!
posted by clseace at 4:02 PM on March 25 [1 favorite]


In my mind, it was definitely Too Close For Comfort, probably involving Monroe.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 5:44 PM on March 25 [5 favorites]


As soon as Natalie sat down on the couch, I knew.

That's the moment that cemented it for me too. That was definitely the clip I was remembering. I'm wondering if they used the same clip reel for a bunch of episodes in syndication or re-ran that episode a lot because every bit of that clip was familiar like something I've watched much more than a time or two.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 7:03 PM on March 25 [4 favorites]


I'm not 100% convinced by the clip from The Facts of Life - I specifically don't remember the baseball cap - but I'm willing to close this one up as well. Great job, penguin.

I am currently downloading that video before Dailymotion deletes it for some weird reason.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:50 AM on March 26


Dutch door or bust!
posted by asperity at 10:54 AM on March 26 [2 favorites]


Oh god it was totally that Facts of Life episode I am SO RELIEVED.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:41 PM on March 26 [3 favorites]


WELL THEN WHERE IS THE CHALLENGE COIN
posted by duffell at 3:56 PM on March 26 [2 favorites]


what's really weird is I remember dismissing the Facts of Life theory in the original thread for some reason

watching the clip now, months later, I have an immediate and unequivocal "oh, that was it" reaction

anyway I will scratch "took part in a collective delusion" off the ol' bucket list
posted by prize bull octorok at 4:08 PM on March 26 [5 favorites]


Doesn’t the solution to the paint roller question deserve a besirened pop-up on the front page?
posted by Kattullus at 1:08 AM on March 27 [2 favorites]


We should celebrate If only I had a penguin... Day every year on March 23, is what we should goddamn do
posted by duffell at 5:47 AM on March 27 [7 favorites]


anyway I will scratch "took part in a collective delusion" off the ol' bucket list

same and so much less expensive than dianetics

also we had better make some swag about this---"It was Jo's face all along" tshirts
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 6:32 AM on March 27 [2 favorites]


There must be two such clips, then, because I have literally never in my entire life seen an episode of The Facts of Life! So I can say, with absolute certainty, that that clip is not the clip I am thinking of. (I realize that I'm probably coming across as defensive about it, but I posted the original question! And I know it isn't that show, and aaaaaargh. This is deeply frustrating to me. I sort of wish I had never asked at all.)
posted by sarcasticah at 8:14 AM on March 27 [5 favorites]


Metafilter: I sort of wish I had never asked at all.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:08 AM on March 27 [6 favorites]


I've got a theory it was 60 Minutes.
posted by Wolfdog at 9:33 AM on March 27 [7 favorites]


I missed the original AskMe and was going to SWEAR that this was in an episode of Perfect Strangers (not necessarily the opening credits), but that's the first one she eliminated. Huh.
posted by somanyamys at 10:01 AM on March 27 [1 favorite]


There are certainly multiple clips that cover a very general version of this gag, but we're looking for one specific one. No overall victory can be declared until we find it!

(It's very possible the one I am certain I remember is not the same one sarcasticah does. I know I don't remember the Facts of Life one. For me, I'm leaning toward Step by Step in spite of not really watching the show, because I probably saw the credits after Family Matters and before Perfect Strangers. All I know is that the person I remember being painted was entering from the left, and there was a door or gate involved.)
posted by asperity at 10:50 AM on March 27 [2 favorites]


I believe that each of us is born with a paint roller gag in our hearts. I realize now that mine is Jo from The Facts of Life, and I am complete.

sarcasticah, I hope that you will one day find the peace that I now know.
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:58 AM on March 27 [11 favorites]


The Great Schism of 2019. Fissures begin to form between the Church of the Facts of Life, and the group calling themselves "The True Faithful." The latter take offense at their characterization as a "splinter group," calling themselves the original one true way, guardians of the faith.

Historians will look back on this era of Metafilter with broken hearts and furrowed brows.
posted by duffell at 11:46 AM on March 27 [8 favorites]


Devotees of both sects carry ceremonial paint-rollers. Nonbelievers, chuckling dismissively, refer to these Seekers as "holy rollers."
posted by duffell at 1:07 PM on March 27 [4 favorites]


Here for the paintbrush pope hat. (Masking tape miter?)
posted by asperity at 1:12 PM on March 27 [1 favorite]


So, there's this cool fact about some songbirds. While some species are born with a completely instinctual knowledge of their species' song, for many species, the juvenile has to learn its song from an adult tutor. During a critical period while the bird is young, an adult will perform its song nearby to the juvenile. The young bird hears this song and memorizes it. This song becomes the bird's "template" for its own future song. As the young bird grows older, it begins to first "babble," then slowly refine its performance, always striving to match its memory of that first song it heard as a juvenile. Eventually, with lots of practice, the bird learns to produce a (nearly) perfect copy of the song its tutor performed for it back when it was barely fledged. A fascinating consequence of this is that many species of birds have regional "accents," which can all be recognized as the same song, but varying with small changes that accumulate locally over many generations of birds producing songs that vary only minutely from what their tutor taught them. Some experienced birders can even recognize these "accents," and tell you where a given bird call was recorded.

When scientists were first working all this out, they did experiments to determine whether the adult tutor was necessary for the young bird to learn its song. They hand-reared some birds without ever giving them any chance to hear an adult's song. Sure enough, these tutor-deprived birds never learned to produce a complete song, singing only a meandering mess of syllables that were not only unlike the normal adult song, but wholly lacking in any complexity or regular form. But this raised a new question. In the wild, a young bird will hear the song not only of its tutor, but also of all the other bird species in its habitat. How can it possibly distinguish its "correct" song from the huge number of different songs it hears during its critical period for learning? Why don't we ever find birds that accidentally learn the "wrong" song of a different-species neighbor? Could it be that although these birds lack an innate knowledge of their species-typical song, they have some sort of innate template for recognizing it when they hear it for the first time?

A study was then done with a rather remarkable result. The birds who grew up without any access to a tutor were allowed to serve as tutors for a new generation. Sure enough, the second generation copied their tutors' "incorrect" song. Then, when this generation of birds grew up, they tutored a new generation, and so on. Although each generation copied the previous generation's song, it did so with slight changes. Eventually, after several generations, the birds began to sing normal, species-typical song! This despite the fact that none of them had ever heard the song produced by wild birds. The conclusion is that indeed, these birds have some sort of genetically-encoded ur-template, a sort of "Platonic ideal" song that they are not able to sing without being taught, but which their own practice and refinement leads them toward.

What I'm trying to say is, I think the paint roller gag may be the birdsong of human culture.
posted by biogeo at 5:27 PM on March 27 [9 favorites]


What I'm trying to say is, I think the paint roller gag may be the birdsong of human culture.

And the Facts of Life ur-gag is what we all reach for.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:12 PM on March 27 [1 favorite]


While I am in agreement that the paint roller gag I personally remember was Monroe on Too Close for Comfort (or similar) with the person being painted on the other side of a door/gate on the left, I am also somehow satisfied that having seen the Jo paint roller clip could have been the seed from which my JM Bullock memory sprouted so am I somehow in both the "this ticket is closed" camp and the "nope I remember a different thing" camp. But I am delighted that we seem to have made some progress with this!
posted by rabbitrabbit at 8:45 AM on March 29 [4 favorites]


Wait, now I feel like I remember the Monroe thing.

But I feel like besides the goofiness of the Monroe character, there's another reason to mis-remember it as Too Close for Comfort. The daughters had the wall with the stripes painted on it. I mean you can almost picture the paint roller going over the wall to do that, can't you? And look, it goes over the door! The paint roller went over the door...if someone had opened the door?

Ok, new theory...Presumably that wall was painted before the show began...but maybe in the pilot? Lots of shows have pilots that didn't really air or that then didn't syndicate and/or that might have different title sequences. I propose that someone find the PILOT of too close for comfort.

How did this happen? I'm sure it was the Facts of Life. I am the Facts Of Life prophet and I am turning from the One True Path.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 12:20 PM on March 29


> And look, it goes over the door! The paint roller went over the door...if someone had opened the door

Alternately: Welcome Back, Kotter.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:41 PM on March 29


This is why the squishy ecumenicalism of rabbitrabbit must be resisted; Monroe is the father of heresies and indulging in discussions of his apocryphal rollering is corrosive to our faith.
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:45 PM on March 29 [1 favorite]


Alternately: Welcome Back, Kotter.

Geez, did everyone in the 70s roller stripes on their walls?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 1:28 PM on March 29 [1 favorite]


Oh, and nobody watch the pilot for Too Close for Comfort. I know, it was another time, etc. etc, but geez...
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 1:29 PM on March 29


Pretty sure Hitler did this to Himmler in one of their skits that opened the 1932 Olympics.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 2:03 PM on March 29 [1 favorite]


Leaving comments under YouTube videos of different version sof the Perfect Strangers intro to remind myself that this isn't the one.
posted by Space Coyote at 5:20 PM on March 29 [2 favorites]


Pretty sure Hitler did this to Himmler in one of their skits that opened the 1932 Olympics.
Pretty sure you're thinking of Cosby and Hitler but that never made it to air.
posted by Wolfdog at 6:22 PM on March 29


The Facts of Life scene is exactly what I remembered. We talked about it several times in that thread, too.
posted by vivzan at 12:35 PM on March 31 [1 favorite]


Despite my promise to myself to never, ever revisit this nightmare, I was just about to post this. This was clearly made by a Mefite with an intense revenge fantasy.

HERE IT IS: Time stamp ~24:12

PAGE NOT FOUND (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

#TeamMonroe

I swear the house in the commercial in the OP is the same layout from the house in"Everybody Loves Raymond".

I was trying to find out who directed this and saw a few comments about this. It's for sure the house.

Coincidentally, on tv they're talking about the black he they just found. I suggest we shoot this whole thing right into the center.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:35 AM on April 14 [1 favorite]


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