David S. Pumpkins
|David S. Pumpkins|
|Saturday Night Live character|
The character dancing with skeletons in the original sketch
|First appearance||October 22, 2016|
SNL season 42, episode 4
|Created by||Mikey Day|
|Portrayed by||Tom Hanks|
|Voiced by||Tom Hanks|
|Full name||David Simon Pumpkins|
David Simon Pumpkins is a fictional character played by American actor Tom Hanks. He first appeared in the October 22, 2016 episode of Saturday Night Live (SNL) in a sketch by SNL writers Mikey Day, Bobby Moynihan, and Streeter Seidell. Fans responded positively to the character and his catchphrase, "Any questions?"
Pumpkins has appeared in two episodes of SNL as well as an animated Halloween special that aired on October 28, 2017.
Concept and creation
The character was created by Bobby Moynihan, Mikey Day, and Streeter Seidell. Moynihan said they wanted to make a Halloween-themed version of the viral video "Little Superstar" with a character who was a "Santa Claus for Halloween". The writers said the character's middle initial "S" stands for Simon.
The initial idea for the sketch did not include the Pumpkins character, involving a "creepy hotel" which resembled Disney's Haunted Mansion; this was later changed into a Tower of Terror-style ride. Day credits Pumpkins' eventual creation with his love of "stupid suits". The first version of Pumpkins has more dialogue, which Hanks cut back while "playing with the character".
The sketch references Pumpkins is “like a local commercial” which is a reference to the local cable commercials of David I. Pankin, a local NYC bankruptcy attorney so runs frequent commercials that reference his name.
Saturday Night Live
Pumpkins first appeared in the fourth episode of SNL's 42nd season, in the sketch "Haunted Elevator (ft. David S. Pumpkins)". A couple (played by Beck Bennett and Kate McKinnon) enters the "100 Floors of Frights" attraction, in which elevator doors open to reveal various characters that scare the couple. On the 49th floor, the doors open to Pumpkins wearing a black and orange pumpkin-themed suit, that the writers bought for $12.99 at Party City. In not answering the couple's questions, Pumpkins says that he is "his own thing", and that the skeletons (Moynihan and Day) that stand next to him on many floors of the elevator are "part of it". He insists that he is there to "scare the hell out of you" but manages only to confuse the passengers. The elevator visits several other floors, at some of which Pumpkins continues to appear, until it stops at the final level. The door opens on just the skeletons, until Pumpkins appears right behind the guests and shout-asks "Any questions?", succeeding in scaring them.
Dave Chappelle, while hosting SNL in of season 42's sixth episodes, references David S. Pumpkins in the sketch "Jheri's Place". After "a sketch gone wrong", Chappelle jokingly says that he thought his failed character "was going to be the next David S. Pumpkins".
In the 21st episode, hosted by Dwayne Johnson and the finale of the same season, Pumpkins appears in the prerecorded music video "Rap Song", using the name David S. Pimpkins and wearing a furry hat and jacket. Among other fictional featured artists, "Pimpkins" pesters Kenan Thompson's character, in a pastiche of "overstuffed all-star rap videos" like "I'm the One" by DJ Khaled.
The Halloween Special
On September 28, 2017, NBC announced that Pumpkins would star in a 30-minute animated special created by Bento Box Animation. Hanks, Day and Moynihan reprised their roles, with Seidell and Peter Dinklage joining the cast. Two weeks prior, Hanks posted a picture of the special's script, titled "The David S. Pumpkins Song," on Twitter and Instagram.
The David S. Pumpkins Halloween Special, which aired October 28, 2017, starts with a live-action address from Hanks dressed as Pumpkins. In the story, Kevin (Dinklage) is embarrassed to take his younger sister trick-or-treating. After choosing the "magic pumpkin" at a pumpkin patch, David S. Pumpkins and the skeletons take them on an adventure and sing-along. The boy and girl ride in Pumpkins' "pumpkinmobile" (a strawberry car) while the mysterious Raincoat Man steals all the Halloween candy. Pumpkins and the skeletons take rescue the candy from what turns out to be pre-teens who had bullied Kevin. Pumpkins uses magic to deliver the candy around the neighborhood inside of pumpkins.
When the character was first performed, his appeal was unclear, though he immediately developed a fan following. Aired just weeks before the 2016 U.S. presidential election, it has been suggested that the non-political nature of the sketch helped fuel its popularity. Day suggested this came from a "weird alchemy of Halloween, the best host ever, the time of the country, and just a silly song". Seidell said:
"The election was so intense. David Pumpkins, this dumb silly thing, was the last thing that everyone could kind of agree on, that they could talk to each other about without it ruining Thanksgiving."
The character's apparent meaninglessness was referenced in the original skit. Tom Hanks jokingly tweeted that he dressed as Pumpkins for Halloween in 2016. To promote his Reddit Ask Me Anything, Microsoft founder Bill Gates parodied the original sketch, and received some criticism for the effort. Hanks's performance as an SNL host, including the Pumpkins sketch, garnered him a nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series in 2017. In October 2017, Madame Tussauds Orlando adapted their existing wax figure of Tom Hanks to appear as David Pumpkins.
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