There was a lot to like about last night’s Tom Hanks-hosted Saturday Night Live (his ninth, by the way). Another solidly horrifying/funny presidential debate sketch between Kate McKinnon’s Hillary Clinton and Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump. A fine “Black Jeopardy,” where Hanks’ crusty, Trump-loving white guy nonetheless finds common ground with the black contestants’ distrust of the government, the IRS, and skinny women. And Hanks’ hilarious monologue where “America’s Dad” sought to reassure his anxious nation-son that everything’s going to be okay. (“Your complexion is changing. That’s natural for a nation of immigrants like yourself.”)
But sometimes, big, weird laughs are what steal the show, and SNL hit on a winner in the form of Hanks’ curly-haired, inexplicably ubiquitous Halloween theme park attraction, David S. Pumpkins. Decked out in a pumpkin-themed blazer and flanked by a pair of leotard-clad, enthusiastically sexual skeleton backup dancers, Pumpkins turned out to be the main attraction of the sketch’s elevator-based “100 Floors Of Frights.” That is, despite that fact that, compared to the more traditional ghosts, severed heads, and little girls from The Ring, Pumpkins’ beaming, cocksure catchphrase “I’m David Pumpkins. Any questions?” left patrons Kate McKinnon and Beck Bennett deeply, hilariously confused.
Partaking of some of the same comedy DNA as Larry David’s similarly, energetically weird SNL creation Kevin Roberts, David Pumpkins keeps confidently asserting his awesomeness, despite the fact that his presence completely derails the whole “100 Floors Of Frights” concept. “I mean, David Pumpkins? Is he from something?,” asks Bennett,” brushing aside the non-Pumpkins scares in an attempt to come to grips with what elevator operator Kenan Thompson eventually admits will be 73 of the ride’s 100 frights. “Babe, don’t let David Pumpkins ruin your night,” urges the equally nonplussed McKinnon.
Maybe it’s the sight of multiple Oscar-winner Tom Hanks decked out in a pumpkin jacket and slapping Bobby Moynihan’s skeleton dancer on the ass. Or the fact that there’s enough of the young goofball who starred in Big and Bachelor Party left in Hanks to commit to playing David S. Pumpkins. (The revelation of the middle initial is yet another baffling detail for Bennett and McKinnon). Or the skillfully escalating absurdity of the bit. “Why did you go all in on David Pumpkins?” an exasperated Bennett asks Thompson. It’s something you could ask of SNL, except that the answer would necessarily come back, “Because it’s David Pumpkins. Any questions?”