The Viral Internet Clip That Inspired ‘SNL’s David S. Pumpkins

The Viral Internet Clip That Inspired ‘SNL’s David S. Pumpkins

“Do you remember that video going around?” Bobby Moynihan asked David Spade and Dana Carvey on the Fly on the Wall podcast. “It's like an Indian guy would press the button on a stereo, and he would just start dancing. And then the other guys would press stop, and he would stop dancing. It was just this weird video.” 

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Don’t remember it? We got you. 

Believe it or not, according to Moynihan, that little bit of viral content inspired one of his most famous SNL sketches — the David S. Pumpkins bit with Tom Hanks. Moynihan co-wrote the sketch with Streeter Seidell and Mikey Day, who also had that video on repeat. “I’m obsessed with the song he’s dancing to: ‘Holiday Rap’ by MC Miker and DJ Sven,” Day told Vulture. “There’s a breakdown in the middle.”

Cool cool — a dancing sketch based on a viral video with a killer soundtrack. There was only one problem when the fellas pitched it to Hanks: “Fellas, I don’t break dance.” 

“I don’t know why we assumed Tom Hanks would know how to break dance,” confessed Seidell. “That put the kibosh on that.”

The writing went into the night, with the comics trying to find a way to work something like “Holiday Rap” into a bit. Since it was Halloween week, they tried a version where skeletons would pop out of coffins and dance around. The only problem: Then what?

Fast-forward to 7 a.m. “You start kicking into high gear,” Day explained about that very sleepless night and next morning. “Sometime around then, we have the idea of Tower of Terror. It’s such a good, adaptable ride for a sketch because the doors open and something occurs, then it shuts, and something else happens.”

As for Hanks? “I remember Mikey being very tired and exasperated,” Moynihan told Vulture. “And after a 30-second silence, he just went, ‘What if we just call him David Pumpkins?’”

Moynihan told Spade and Carvey that they finally settled on the funny idea that nobody knows what David Pumpkins is or what makes him scary. “By the time it got to dress (rehearsal), we were like, ‘We have no idea what we have here.’ Tom Hanks was just like, ‘I think I’m just gonna be as weird as possible.’ And it just kind of found itself on air.”

Without a rock-solid premise as a foundation, it was a sketch sold on pure enthusiasm. When Spade and Carvey asked how Pumpkins got through the table read, Moynihan confessed that “we got up and did the dances. And so did (Hanks) and that’s what sold it.” 

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