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COLUMN: David S. Pumpkins is his own good thing



In an age where negativity is the norm, it's nice to be able to consume media that is wholesome and uplifting, preferably featuring a heavy dose of Tom Hanks.

This Saturday, NBC will air "The David S. Pumpkins Halloween Special." This half-hour animated special will be based around the "Saturday Night Live" sketch involving Tom Hanks’ kooky pumpkin suit-wearing character and his two breakdancing skeletons, played by Bobby Moynihan and Mikey Day. 

Previous SNL sketches have gone beyond the show, including "The Blues Brothers," "Coneheads" and "Wayne’s World." 

The 2000s have produced numerous wacky SNL characters with recurring appearances, quotable character elements and vast cultural recognition. Think Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri as Spartan cheerleaders, Kristen Wiig as the Target Lady and Bobby Moynihan as “drunk uncle.” 

So why is David S. Pumpkins, a character with virtually no plot or character motivation other than to be extremely wacky, the sketch Lorne Michaels has chosen to hang his hat on? 

David S. Pumpkins is simple. David S. Pumpkins exists in another reality and David S. Pumpkins is played by Tom Hanks. These three factors combined create a cultural phenomenon that has made a character that has only appeared in one full sketch worthy of his own special. 

"Saturday Night Live" saw a spike in ratings of more than 20 percent among every age group for both women and men in its 42nd season. A lot of this success is attributed to its continual and successful spoofing of the 2016 election. 

But sketch creators Moynihan, Day and Seidell were looking forward to writing a non-political sketch. It is no secret that over the past two years, the American public has been bombarded with politics and political satire. 

The issues surrounding the political sketches are very real, complex and can incite opposition with little to no effort. 

The appeal of David S. Pumpkins is that he is simple. He is easy to understand. He states his name, dances and essentially just repeats the line, “Any questions?” 

Team Pumpkins up with two dancing skeletons and audiences of any age and background can find the character funny.

This is part of the reason why the special will be animated. David S. Pumpkins has a make-believe quality akin to Frosty the Snowman or Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Dancing characters with no realistic agenda are meant to produce effortless laughter and leave audiences with a warm, light-hearted feeling. 

Finally, Tom Hanks plays David S. Pumpkins. Hanks has portrayed some of the nation’s most beloved characters, such as Forrest Gump, Woody from "Toy Story" and almost everyone in "The Polar Express." 

There is something inexplicably heartwarming about Hanks playing a character who almost takes on the role of a holiday myth.

So yes, David S. Pumpkins is his own thing. He makes viewers laugh for no reason other than wacky, silly humor. But he transports viewers away from harsh reality to a world of dancing and Halloween. 

This is why so many viewers want to be, as the skeletons say in the sketch, “part of it.” They will be tuning in this Saturday night to watch what could be a potential "SNL" holiday empire. 

ccarigan@indiana.edu
@carmesanchicken

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