You know who else ___? Origin?
September 19, 2007 12:21 PM   Subscribe

What's the origin of the meme "You know who else [does something]" with the standard answer (or implied answer) being Hitler but often replaced by something else?

The farthest back I go with it is Freaks and Geeks, Joe Flaherty's character used to say it and I think the daughter did a few times as well.
posted by luser to Society & Culture (22 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Godwin's Law explains the Hitler part. I can't help with the specific phrasing of the statement, though.
posted by cowbellemoo at 12:27 PM on September 19, 2007

Anecdotally, I say that a lot, and the standard or implied answer is never Hitler. Around here we say that and then after a sufficient pause, answer the question. It's done as humor, but not using Hitler.
posted by DMan at 12:44 PM on September 19, 2007

Could it be........ Dana Carvey? The Church Lady popularized the leading question with the answer as Satan back in the late 80s.
posted by JJ86 at 12:53 PM on September 19, 2007

I was going to say Office Space, but I do think JJ86 has it.
posted by cashman at 1:00 PM on September 19, 2007

I'm with JJ86, the first instance I can think of was The Church Lady.
posted by quin at 1:07 PM on September 19, 2007

I think it's a misremembering of Office Space. The classic version of the quip mentioned in the question has since been reconstructed from the original quote:

Office Space:
You know, the Nazis had pieces of flair that they made the Jews wear.

While it could also be from the Church Lady, I don't think so, because the classic quip from that character is also constructed differently and doesn't usually mention Nazis or Hitler:

Church Lady
“Now, who could it be? Could it be … SATAN?”
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:26 PM on September 19, 2007

You know who else registered his hatred?

I think the exact phrase may well have originated on Freaks & Geeks, although the concept had certainly been thrown around previously.
posted by Reggie Digest at 1:34 PM on September 19, 2007

I recall hearing Sarah Silverman use a bit on Conan a few years ago where she said something like, "You know who else's birthday it is? [beat] Hitler." This was maybe 2000?
posted by frecklefaerie at 1:47 PM on September 19, 2007

I remember the ad parody "Hitler Wore Khakis" (similar to this) running in Adbusters — I think it was a winning submission to a contest.

Anyway, that would have been about 1995. I always thought the "You know who else ___?" thing was referencing that. (Maybe the writers on Freaks & Geeks created the phrase while referencing that?)
posted by limeswirltart at 1:50 PM on September 19, 2007

I don't know the origin of the exact phrase as we know it, but the general form (in which a sentence discussing a seemingly innocent subject ends with the word "Hitler", as a method of shocking the listener into reconsidering a behavior or phenomenon) was a technique sometimes used in American World War II propaganda films, like Reason and Emotion (see at about 5:50-6:00).
posted by Prospero at 1:53 PM on September 19, 2007

After poking around some more, I found the original Gap campaign.

The tagline in '93 was "Who Wore Khakis?" and then it would be answered by a photo of a famous person in said khakis. For instance, Steve McQueen wore khakis.

I'm sure the Adbusters parody isn't the first place where someone then made the joke "You know who ELSE wore khakis?"
posted by limeswirltart at 2:02 PM on September 19, 2007

That sounds right prospero -- like in this poster
posted by luser at 2:04 PM on September 19, 2007 [2 favorites]

The real answer is probably that, as is common, simple phrases like this have no documented origin and no easily-discernable first usage.
posted by klangklangston at 2:33 PM on September 19, 2007

I thought the canonical question, on which later variations are based, was "You know who else was a Vegetarian?".
posted by limon at 2:35 PM on September 19, 2007

hmm limon's answer sounds right to me too
posted by milestogo at 2:40 PM on September 19, 2007

Here’s a usenet post with the phrase that predates both Office Space and Freaks and Geeks.
posted by hilker at 2:52 PM on September 19, 2007 [2 favorites]

I think limon has the closest etymology. The vegetarian thing used to come up all the time in veggie/non-veggie arguments, until it became a bit of a cliche, to the point where people would deploy a sarcastic version preemptively in vegetarian arguments. The current usage started with people mocking this, with increasing amounts of ridiculousness in place of "vegetarian".
posted by vorfeed at 3:46 PM on September 19, 2007

This is WWII lingo, if not earlier. Propaganda back then was extremely simplistic--anything undesirable was considered "helping Communism" and the like. I'm fairly certain I've seen almost this exact phrase in an old war poster, in an antique store. But good luck finding this out.
posted by Phyltre at 5:44 PM on September 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

I like Limon's suggestion, too, with a dash of Freaks & Geeks helping to cement the meme.

What's to account for the sudden popularity of the joke here on MeFi in the last few months?
posted by Ian A.T. at 7:54 PM on September 19, 2007

I can't find documentation online, but I could've sworn it was John Goodman's character in the Big Lebowski who first said it.
posted by klarck at 8:02 PM on September 19, 2007

Ha ha, no way does Walter say anything intentionally ironic in that entire movie.

Maybe you mean this?

WALTER: Fucking Germans. Nothing changes. Fucking Nazis.
DONNY: They were Nazis, Dude?
WALTER: Come on, Donny, they were threatening castration!
DONNY: Uh-huh.
WALTER: Are you gonna split hairs?
posted by breath at 10:00 PM on September 19, 2007

Shoot. Sorry about that.
posted by klarck at 8:26 AM on September 20, 2007

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