Any Questions!?

Any Questions?!

Any Questions?!

This Saturday Night Live skit has the television cheapness that SNL has been proudly displaying for 40 years. The far view of a tall building at night, a crack of lightning, and the words “Haunted Elevator” in B Movie spooky letters.

A couple sits on a haunted elevator, the conductor bringing them to different floors of spookiness as he shoots out the occasional tortured pun (“Now, hold on for dear death!”).

The couple jumps as the elevator doors slide open to reveal typical haunted house gimmicks: a hanged bride, a maniac with a severed head.

And then the doors open to reveal David S. Pumpkins. David S. Pumpkins is played by Tom Hanks, he is wearing a suit and tie of black and covered in large bright orange pumpkins. He is accompanied by two skeletons, who, when asked, tell the couple that they are “a part of it.” David S. Pumpkins tells them his name and they proceed to do a ridiculous dance to an unusual song. Before the doors slide closed, David asks in a loud voice: “Any questions?”

For about the next three minutes, I laugh harder than I have in the last three years. I mean, convulsive, otter-sounding, breathless laughing. And I have no idea why.

Often times, when I have trouble conveying the humor of a show or movie, it’s a cultural thing. In the first place, Saturday Night Live does skits like “The Californians” and “The Gap Girls” two skits which almost require a viewer to have knowledge of the culture (or subculture) surrounding it in order to get it. I mean to get the deeper layers of the humor, not a superficial giggle at a fat man in a dress or the Californians’ idiotic facial expressions.

This is no different when discussing any culture and its humor. It took me several years to get a lot of the deeper humor in classics like Pelíšky or Ostře sledované vlaky that only became more apparent as I learned about Czechs and Czech culture.

Additionally, and certainly linked to the cultural aspect, is that American humor itself is far different from Czech humor and from British humor. This is also nothing new; every culture’s humor is unique to that culture. I have recommended classic American comedies like Caddyshack and Me Talk Pretty One Day only to be stunned at the “meh” feedback. Though I didn’t know how someone couldn’t belly laugh at these comedies, I did know that I have forced a pained smirk on my tortured maw watching a Czech movie while the Czechs around me dissolved into fits of laughter. A British friend once recommended a British comedy show that I would put on for background mood at a morgue.

But with David S. Pumpkins isn’t a cultural thing, and I just can’t figure out what is so funny. The randomness of it all? It could be the pumpkin-themed clothing or his perm with a streak of color. Maybe it’s the “Ay Papi!” cooed femininely by one of the dancing male skeletons or the loud whipping sound that snaps when David S. Pumpkins spanks his skeletons on the ass. It could be the absurd song that has been stuck in my head since then (I am literally humming it now; the cat hates me). It might be the fact that David S. Pumpkins has a middle name that I have been pondering for twelve hours. Or it could really just be that Tom Hanks is a comic genius.

A quick search on the internet proves that I am not the only one wondering why this is so funny. After typing “Davi-” a string of results come up listed as follows: Why is David S. Pumpkins so funny? Why does David S. Pumpkins make us laugh so hard? Or The Atlantic’s The Bizarre Joy of David S. Pumpkins.

Fortunately, I have a spirit guide. Recently I have been reading a book of essays by E.B White, who was himself a demigod in the Mount Olympus of Comedy. After David S. Pumpkins made his abrupt appearance in my life, I revisited White’s essay Some Remarks on Humor. In this essay, White points out that comedy has a “certain fragility, an evasiveness, which one had best respect. Essentially, it is a complete mystery.” In this same essay, he famously writes that “humor can be dissected, as a frog can, but that the thing dies in the process and the innards are discouraging to any but the pure scientific mind.”

So perhaps E.B is right and we should leave it alone, so as not to kill or make it discouraging. Perhaps when David S. Pumpkins himself asks “any questions?” we should acknowledge that we do, but that we won’t ask them. Or we can just be satisfied with David S. Pumpkins’ own explanation when asked by the woman “…and David S. Pumpkins is…?”

“His own thang!”

  1. #1 by Eddie on October 29, 2016 - 6:49 am

    Hilarious! Reminds me of Kevin Roberts. Can a bitch get a donut? ??

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