Saturday Night Live's David Pumpkins was delightful. Any questions?
Posted October 27
During most election seasons, “Saturday Night Live” is indispensable. The best way to know what really happened during a presidential debate is to watch the SNL parody to see who gets skewered the most. The problem is that this election is already so over-the-top that the parody can’t hold a candle to reality.
Sure, Kate McKinnon does a spot-on Hillary Clinton, and Alec Baldwin is perfect as Donald Trump. But with all the hubbub happening in reality, I don’t personality welcome any reminder of what awaits us Nov. 8.
Thank heavens, then, for David Pumpkins.
Who is David Pumpkins, you might ask? No, he is not running for president, although it would be a lot of fun if he were. His name would appear on the ballot as David S. Pumpkins, and he’d probably have to pick between his two skeleton sidekicks to select a running mate. Certainly, he’d wear his trademark pumpkin suit and tie to campaign rallies. Because he’s David Pumpkins, man. Any questions?
If none of that makes any sense to you, you’re not alone. It didn’t make any sense to McKinnon and Beck Bennett, either. In the last episode of “Saturday Night Live,” they played a couple who take a ride on “100 Floors of Frights,” an amusement park attraction that features scary characters in a hotel who jump out at you every time the elevator door opens. On the first floor, they meet Winifred Rogers, a creepy bride wearing a noose and reciting a morbid nursery rhyme. On the next floor, they run into a waiter with a human head on a platter. They’re shocked and amazed as both of these encounters deliver the frights they were promised.
And then on the third floor they visit, they encounter David Pumpkins.
“How’s it hanging?” he asks before introducing himself. He’s a sort of lounge lizard sporting a tacky suit with pumpkins all over it. He’s flanked by two dancers in fright wigs and skeleton outfits who proceed to do an inane dance to a dippy synth tune. Then David Pumpkins asks, “Any questions?” as the door closes.
Any questions, indeed. You probably have many. None of them have answers, which is essentially the point of David Pumpkins, if such a delightful slice of silliness can be said to have a point. The rest of the sketch has Bennett and McKinnon trying to figure out why David Pumpkins is supposed to be scary, or why the ride decided that 77 out of the “100 Floors of Frights” ought to feature the good Mr. Pumpkins doing slight variations of his bizarre shtick. It concludes when David Pumpkins figures out how to be genuinely frightening, which is quite an accomplishment for a goofy guy in a pumpkin suit.
David Pumpkins is portrayed with gleeful abandon by SNL host Tom Hanks, who has repeatedly demonstrated a talent for playing loopy characters in small doses. There is absolutely nothing profound or ponderous about David Pumpkins. He isn’t a vehicle for deep satire or wry political commentary. There was plenty of that in the rest of the episode, and much of it was well-done. But given how tumultuous this election has been, I was grateful for a moment in the program that had no political content whatsoever. David Pumpkins provided an absurd respite from reality, and given how ugly reality has been since this campaign began, such a respite was entirely welcome.
Jim Bennett is a recovering actor, theater producer and politico, and he writes about pop culture and politics at his blog, stallioncornell.com.