Season 42 of Saturday Night Live was best known for its surprise guest-star appearances, notably Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump and Melissa McCarthy’s portrayal of Sean Spicer. But the breakout skit of the season was “Haunted Elevator,” featuring host Tom Hanks as David S. Pumpkins, the star of a haunted house flanked by two dancing skeletons who wasn’t scary so much as confusing.
Who was this guy? Why did he like slapping skeletons in the ass? Where did he get that Jack O’ Lantern-decorated blazer? Any other questions?
David S. Pumpkins somehow became such a phenomenon among pop culture bloggers and fans on social media that SNL brought him back for a surprise appearance in the season finale as… David S. Pimpkins. Any questions?
No one may have been more surprised about David S. Pumpkins’ popularity than Hanks himself. According to former cast member Bobby Moynihan (who left at the end of last season), Hanks actually didn’t want to play the character because he didn’t get the sketch.
The idea, as Moynihan explained on Late Night with Seth Meyers, was to create a Santa Claus for Halloween. But Hanks thought it was too weird. That was the whole point, but the host still tried to talk his way out of playing the character.
“Tom Hanks, in between dress and air — not a fan of the sketch,” said Moynihan, who helped write the sketch. “He thought it was very bizarre and was like, ‘Hey, I think Chris Hemsworth [who was hosting the following week] would make a great David Pumpkins.’ But now he is very happy with it.”
Hemsworth would have been fun too, maybe giving Pumpkins a different angle as an extremely handsome man playing Halloween Santa Claus in a haunted house. But Hanks gave the character an inherent goofiness that bordered on creepy. He just seemed like a weird guy, who maybe talked that same way all the time. Imagine him at Starbucks. “Pumpkin Spice Latte for David Pumpkins. Any questions?” Of course, the barista probably would’ve written “Pimpkins” on the cup. Maybe that’s where he got that idea.
It’s hard to imagine David S. Pumpkins being so popular if Hemsworth had played him, but maybe it was the concept that broke through more than the performance. Regardless, it was arguably the most memorable sketch of last season’s SNL. Our Jeremy Klumpp actually ranked it as the third-best of Season 42.
“Outside of the political material, no sketch created a bigger stir this season than the introduction of David S. Pumpkins (Hanks). Part of the appeal was that it doesn’t make any sense, there’s no closure, we all have so many questions about Pumpkins, but none of them get answered. Not even why the skeletons (Mikey Day and Bobby Moynihan) are along for the ride.”
SNL has been known to beat a popular sketch or character to death by using it over and over. But the seasonal aspect of David S. Pumpkins and Hanks’ limited availability should make sure he doesn’t get overused. But he’s probably going to pop up around Halloween, right?
Any questions? Hanx. pic.twitter.com/6rv6Cxx3DH
— Tom Hanks (@tomhanks) September 14, 2017
Hanks even hinted as much last week, showing what appeared to be a page from the script. As Gizmodo speculated, Hanks already having a script likely means that this is for a digital short that will be taped in advance to accommodate the actor’s schedule.