The comedy world is losing its mind (justifiably) for a SNL sketch from this past Saturday.
Here’s the thing – the sketch works because it has fake outs.
You hear that line Keenan Thompson says right at the end? “He’s in 73 out of 100 rooms. Look, it’s a hundred floors of terror. They can’t ALL be winners.”
His character is the most important thing in the sketch – it’s his job to lead us into thinking that the joke is that David S. Pumpkins sucks. He’s playing into our broad, mainstream comedy expectation that this thing is going to end with David S. Pumpkins failing, because we are cynical and a wide swath of comedy is cynical and that’s how this stuff goes.
DSP and has skeletons have one job – be confusing. The couple has one job – be scared (or not). It’s the operator that makes the sketch work. Without him it’s a bit about a weird comedy freak trying to spook unimpressed normal people. Boring.
But after our operator sets the expectation that the ride kind of sucks, DSP totally pulls it off, freaks out the couple, they’re actually freaked, and for some reason, we laugh.
So that’s it. We’re all acting like the sketch works because of David Pumpkins, but it works because of the elevator operator (and the couple actually screaming). The crazy one is never what gets the laugh, it’s the reaction to the crazy one.
I’m curious if the next DSP thing they do – because how could they not do another? – will have a similar voice to set low expectations.