David S. Pumpkins Might Win Tom Hanks An Emmy... Really

by Maitri Suhas
Will Heath/NBC

Tom Hanks is undoubtedly America's sweetheart. The actor's IMDb page is a list of some of the most acclaimed films of the last 30 years, including such memorable roles as the sweet Forrest Gump, the charming Joe Fox from You've Got Mail, wonderful Sheriff Woody from Toy Story, and deserted Chuck Noland from Castaway. And his trophy case at home must be sagging, as Hanks has won 17 acting awards, not to mention a Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama. Hanks already has eight Primetime Emmys, but his most important win could come at the 2017 Emmy Awards— Hanks could win an Emmy for playing David S. Pumpkins. Well, in the sense that he is nominated for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for hosting Saturday Night Live on which he played the memorable character. Any questions?

Pumpkins boogied into the cultural zeitgeist on Hank's SNL episode on October 22 last year in the sketch "Haunted Elevator." If you don't remember, the premise of the sketch is a couple (Beck Bennett and Kate McKinnon) is at a haunted elevator attraction with 100 floors of horror, where each floor is filled with a new fright. Except for the 73 floors filled with David S. Pumpkins and his two dancing skeleton friends. Pumpkins, in an orange and black suit and bride of Frankenstein hair, gleefully responds to Bennett's question "Who ARE you?" with "I'm David Pumpkins!" ("And the skeletons are?..." "PART OF IT!") That settles it.

The character started a social media frenzy, spawning GIFs and memes exponentially. David S. Pumpkins Halloween costumes sold out instantly on Spirit and Amazon. But the question lingered: Why exactly was David S. Pumpkins so hilarious?

The best explanation is: He just is. There were many meditations on why this Hanks character was so incredible and universally loved, but it's just one of those bizarre, random SNL characters that makes you laugh with incredulity. It's a replay-er for sure. It helps that Mikey Day and Bobby Moynihan are so committed to their energetic background dancing. The sketch also came at the end of what seemed like 40,000 election years, and it was an uplifting and just plain weird reprieve from topical sketches.

Of course, Hanks is not nominated just for the inimitable David S. Pumpkins, it's the whole episode that earned him the nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series. Hanks has hosted SNL a whopping nine times, and his October episode was a great one. The other exceptional sketch from the night was "Black Jeopardy," in which Hanks played a MAGA-hatted denim-clad man named Doug from middle America who's clearly out of place. It's an unexpectedly astute sketch, and Slate called it "one of [SNL's] sharpest political sketches in recent memory."

But let's be real: It was Pumpkins that stole the show and stole America's hearts — if there's one thing that Tom Hanks knows how to do, it's stealing America's hearts. He's already received eight Emmy Awards, but surprisingly, they are all for producing, writing, and directing for series like Band of Brothers, Big Love, John Adams, and Olive Kitteredge. Wouldn't it just be swell if his first acting Emmy was for the unforgettable David S. Pumpkins?