All Wrapped Up
TV GUIDE issue #1876, vol. 34 Nov. 10-17 1991
written by Franklin Jobbey
Toilet Paper Head is a very busy person. His new Thursday night show on CBS, "Say Hello to Your Friend' is slated to return in the fall, his autobiography will be out in bookstores after Thanksgiving, and his upcoming film ''Rolling Up to Heaven" opens this Friday. Viewers love Toilet Paper Head. What is his appeal? I went to the source to find my answer and was pleased by the response.
As I watched the cast and crew of "Say Hello to your friend" film their upcoming Christmas episode, (airs December 8th, 8pm EST), I understood why everyone on the set had nothing but praises to say about Toilet Paper Head.
"He is adorable,” says co-star Cindy Lucas. "He's so innocent and full of laughter. He really is one of the most creative actors I've ever worked with. The writers don't exploit his alien appearance either. When I auditioned for the show, I thought, 'Oh this show has that toilet paper man in it. There is going to be a ton of fart, poop and toilet Jokes.' But the whole first season of shows only one episode had toilet humor in it. But the point of the episode was to get all the campy toilet jokes done and over with. As a matter of fact at the beginning of the episode, the whole cast stood on stage and told the viewers at home that the episode was dedicated to everyone who appreciated farting as humor and toilet paper stuck on the bottom of shoes as comedy at its highest. Then we told those very people to never watch our show again after that night because our writers cater to an audience with an IQ higher than an inept sea monkey. " Cindy, who plays Toilet Paper Head's landlord recalls her favorite episode, "I remember it taking so many takes because TP and I Just kept on laughing and messing up the scene. It was the episode where TP thought Paul Revere's ghost haunted his refrigerator and kept trying to prove to me he wasn't insane."
I relayed this story to Toilet Paper Head at a local coffee shop and awaited his response.
He simply rolled up his sleeve and pointed to a now fading scar. “I had a lot of fun in that episode," smiled Toilet Paper Head, “Cindy was supposed to throw the toaster my head!"
But the scars he carries never run that deep. Dick Weinburg, the show's executive producer and co-star knew he struck gold when he okayed Toilet Paper Head's pilot episode. "The kid is great. He makes sure the outside world does not hamper is creativity and Joy of life. Most other comedians' material is their response to society. Whether it be political, social, or anthropological. Toilet Paper Head’s genius comes from his untainted innocence. That is what makes him special, he doesn't pretend to be ignorant, he is ignorant."
Weinburg first saw Toilet Paper Head on a cable access puppet show coincidentally enough "Say Hello to Your Friend." '' I made a puppet I called Petey. Petey the Puppet." I saw his eyes glow as he recalled his first break on television, "I considered Petey a really good friend of mine so I wanted to give him a show to show him how much of a friend he was. Since my uncle was a programming manager of WOOD in Syracuse he let me have my own puppet show. Petey wanted to name it 'Say Hello to Your Friend’ because he wanted me to be everyone's friend."
"Even though the network show has nothing to do with his original puppet show, I decided to keep the name because it goes along with this public image TP has created for himself. He really wants to be everyone's friend; and he really wants everyone to say hello to him," says Weinburg.
Weinburg confessed he was surprised Toilet Paper Head's show still maintained its popularity. There were initially some tabloid reports that Toilet Paper Head was verbally abusive on the set and was actually a midget in an elaborate costume.
“What it is, is the fact no one can believe that someone Is capable of being so pure and harmless that it just has to be an act; that he just has to be a jerk like everyone else. Toilet Paper Head isn't Jesus by any stretch of the imagination; he just has optimistic common sense that isn't clouded by prejudice." Cindy continues to get defensive over her co-star, “Yeah, I remember reading that article about TP being a short person in a costume, (laughs) We all got a kick out of that on the show. Dick plans on doing a parody of it next season." Cindy then looked at her watch and with a long pause, she vocalized a thought I could tell in her eyes was plaguing her for a long time, “Maybe our society has gotten too old to think so young. TP's outlook on life is so simple it's hard for humanity to except that someone who isn't human is able to think more humane."
After Toilet Paper Head finished his second cup of coffee, I posed that very question to him. He originally looked confused, then he smiled and ate a sugar packet. “What is your favorite thing about sugar? That's what I think. Everyone is worried that sugar is so bad for you. It has too many calories, it makes you too hyper, and it makes your teeth rotten. But come on! It's sugar." Toilet Paper Head looked around the coffee shop and motioned me to come closer. “Do you know what my favorite episode is? If I tell you, you have to remember to not write it until you print the article because it is a secret." After promising the small big star I would not tell but only write it down, he whispered to me that he favored the ‘broken window' episode over the other ones.
“It was written because Mr. Face Bone fell in the lion’s cage at the zoo a long time ago. At first I thought I pushed him In as a funny Joke because I was thinking about doing that, but later on Mr. Facebone told me a lion hypnotized him and he fell in because he lost control over his motor functions and the evil lion controlled him. I told Dick that story and at first he was silent, then he laughed at me, then he said we should tum that into an episode. The way it was written, I was standing next to my apartment window looking outside and a sawa pretty woman and she looked at me.
Then she hypnotized me and I fell out of my second story window and the rest of the episode was about me trying to fix my window with plastic food wrap so Cindy wouldn't find out. Then at the end of the episode the janitor of my house leaned on the plastic wrap and fell out!" Toilet Paper Head continued to laugh as he recalled the episode in more detail.
I brought up his new movie and asked him if it possessed the same brand of humor his show had. ''Rolling Up to Heaven" is about a carpet salesman (played by Toilet Paper Head) who meets a waitress/bus driver (Minnie Driver) with stigmata, falls in love with her, and the two of them search for the physical form of The Meaning of Life through clues in children's books and riddles told by Canadian pool players.
"Well the man who wrote the story is Tom Foolery, one of the writers for 'Say Hello to Your Friend' and he writes some real side splitting stuff. The movie isn't about me acting like someone else anyway. They (Universal Studios) didn't think everyone wanted to see if I could act. So it's just me except this time I have a 20 million dollar budget around me," Toilet Paper Head says.
I raised the question to Toilet Paper Head if he was concerned that the religious undertones and overtones of his movie will spark any controversy or hurt his popularity in any way. He responded by pointing out that the movie isn't about religious promotion, but about personal philosophies.
I asked him if his new book talks about his childhood at all. People including himself describe his disposition as having a child-like logic or even a child-like mentality, so I was curious if addressed if he consciously accepted this as part of his being or if he simply suffered from a case of arrested development.
His first reaction was that of unsettled confusion. He then smiled and pulled down his sleeve that he rolled up earlier in the interview.
“I guess you’re asking me what everyone else always asks me. Am I really for real? and was I always like this? Yes to both with an explanation soon to follow. My childhood was fine. I grew up in a Toilet Paper family with a Toilet Paper dog in a Toilet Paper house with Toilet Paper ideals and morals instilled into me. My parents are the same way. They taught me to respect everyone and everything and not take anything for granted and to not act better than anyone else. A lot of humble ideals are created from people whose heads are used for wiping bum bums. Look at the world through the eyes of a roll of toilet paper and you'll see that the way I am isn't that bizarre."
Before Cindy left for rehearsal she had a final comment to make. “What makes Toilet Paper Head really special to me and the rest of us are that his head may be Charmin' soft, but he is the strongest man I know.”