This is my favorite skit in ages from SNL. I can’t even begin to describe why…. but I’ll try.
First of all, this skit just happened to be on SNL the same day that we took the NBC Studio Tour in New York City, where we got to see the legendary Studio 8H, the place Saturday Night Live has been produced for over 40 years. So, immediately +5 points, right?
Second, Tom Hanks. Such a bizarre character for him to play, don’t you think? Never thought Tom Hanks could be that creepy, honestly…. I also recently saw this meme on iFunny, so Tom Hanks has kinda sorta been on the brain:
So, +5 more points for that one. As an aside, I also recently added a reminder (accidentally) on my phone to “Never Travel with Tom Hanks” when I told Google:
Hey Google. (beep) Remind me to Never Travel with Tom Hanks. (beep)
I was actually just trying to Google the phrase Never Travel with Tom Hanks. But it came out wrong and Google thought I wanted to set a reminder. So I’ve decided to leave it. Every once in a while it pops up on my phone and makes me laugh. I just dismiss it and wait til next time…
Technically, the sketch works for several reasons.
First, it follows the “rule of three” that is common for many sketches and even simple jokes to follow. Things are just naturally funnier in threes. Or, better said, the first two examples are normal, prepping your mind for the third one to be twisted…
Second, the laughs mostly come from the fact that no one seems to know exactly who David (S.) Pumpkins is, nor why we should be scared of him. The reactions of the couple in the elevator are our own. They are genuine.
Third, the elevator riders are so confused by David Pumpkins, they aren’t even remotely scared by “The Ring” girl on the 26th floor… The 100 Floors of Fright are completely failing now. The riders were all caught up in the story at the beginning. David Pumpkins ruined the frightening atmosphere for them.
Fourth, you know the Pumpkins’ trio are prepared for the inevitable questions they are about to receive from their elevator riding visitors. Their answers are canned responses.
“and David Pumpkins is …. ?”
” … his own thang!”
“and the skeletons are …. ?”
” … Part of it!” (in unison)
They’ve obviously gotten these questions before. Perhaps even from the last group of elevator riders? Mr. Pumpkins seems to be getting a little miffed at having to justify his existence in this ride.
“I’m David Pumpkins, man!”
As if all this wasn’t enough, 73 of the 100 Floors of Fright are dedicated to David S. Pumpkins! Which leads our (no longer scared) male in the elevator to eventually ask:
“Why did you go all in on David Pumpkins?”
Which is exactly what we should all be asking ourselves at this point. What were the writers thinking when they came up with this sketch? And that’s exactly what makes this so darn funny.
Here’s an article that explains this quite like I’m thinking. There’s been a lot of comparison to the “FBI Simulator” sketch by the same SNL writers. But I also like to think of it as a more successful version of “Song for Daddy” — a sketch so bad it didn’t make it past dress rehearsal. For the record, I find this sketch incredibly funny! Maybe because it’s such a train wreck, but also because it makes me ask the same question as David S. Pumpkins: What were the writers thinking when they came up with this sketch?
There’s often a fine line between what works and what doesn’t, and there’s also incredible breadth in one’s sense of humor. What one person finds funny, another may not see any humor in at all.
At any rate, whether you find Mr. Pumpkins and his dancing crew funny or not… Happy Halloween!