‘David Pumpkins’ Almost Didn’t Feature David Pumpkins

By
Tom Hanks as David Pumpkins Photo: Will Heath/NBC

Any questions? Yes. What is existence? Where are we before we were born? If what we think of as self is actually an ever-changing and exchanging collection of atoms, is there free will? The point is, for a time — likely a few late-night hours, based on what we know about SNL’s writing schedule — the sketch commonly known as “David Pumpkins” did not, in fact, feature David Pumpkins. The sketch’s co-writer Mikey Day says that originally it was pitched and written sans the mysterious bepumpkined man. “It was just going to be a dance,” Day tells Uproxx in his first interview since joining the cast. “It started with a couple who were staying in a creepy hotel and it’s sort of Haunted Mansion style. Like ghouls started coming out, ‘Ayyy!’ Everyone came out and sang a verse and then we would come out of coffins and just dance and go back in.” Then, he says, he thought of the Tower of Terror ride at Disneyland, and realized it is a “great setup because it’s just doors opening.” For a brief, undisclosed window of time, that was the sketch. Door opens, something random and spooky, door closes, door opens, something random, etc.

But then there was a breakthrough. Day: “Because I’m obsessed with stupid suits, [I thought of] a dude with pumpkins on his suit. The door opens and it’s the dude David Pumpkins.” The sketch’s co-writer Bobby Moynihan added the s to his name. And the rest was history.

Well, not yet. “Originally, there was a lot more dialogue,” says Day. “And originally it was set to like a beat, so it kind of had rhythm. And we were like, ‘Do you haunt?’ And he’s like, ‘Maybe.’” In an earlier version, David S. Pumpkins was a real rude dude with a tude, saying stuff like, “If you wake up in the morning and there’s a pumpkin in your hall closet, that means I hate you.” Eventually that stuff got smoothed out and Tom Hanks continued “playing with the character,” telling Day, Moynihan, and co-writer Streeter Seidell, “[I’m] trying to wrap my head around this guy, guys.” And then he did. And it was on TV. And David S. Pumpkins — and that one guy in accounting’s Halloween costume — finally existed as if he always had.

SNL’s ‘David Pumpkins’ Almost Didn’t Feature David Pumpkins