Lady Gaga was almost Mrs. David S. Pumpkins, and other secrets to the hit SNL sketch

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Mar 26, 2021, 10:00 AM EDT (Updated)

David S. Pumpkins, played by Tom Hanks, was the breakout hit of Saturday Night Live's 2016 Halloween episode. The sketch, actually called "Haunted Elevator," involved a couple going on an elevator ride with 100 floors of frights. Between traditional frights like a hanged bride or a head on a platter was David S. Pumpkins, an inexplicable character in an orange pumpkin suit with two dancing skeleton companions. The sketch was the most talked-about SNL sketch in years, and even spawned an animated special.

Vulture recently published "An Oral History of David Pumpkins," an insanely detailed description of how the sketch came to be. One of the most interesting revelations in the piece is that Lady Gaga was almost Mrs. David S. Pumpkins.

Streeter Seidell, one of the writers of the sketch (along with Mikey Day and Bobby Moynihan, who played the dancing skeletons), said that the producers came to them and told them that Lady Gaga "might want to do something" in the sketch. "Ooh! Let’s have her be Mrs. David Pumpkins," Seidell reportedly said. At the end of the sketch, when the door opens and reveals just the skeletons, Lady Gaga would have been standing between them.

"She’s wearing a jacket with witches on it," Moynihan recalled about the original plan. "You think she’s gonna say 'Wanda Witches' or something, but she goes, 'I’m Mrs. David Pumpkins.' Of course his wife would be weird."

Unfortunately, the plan to have Gaga appear in the sketch fell through when the singer decided she wanted to focus on her musical performances.

Other fun facts from the article:

  • Kate McKinnon and Vanessa Bayer's roles were originally switched.
  • The sketch initially had more chatter before the skeletons started to dance. As the week went on, more and more dialogue was cut.
  • The sketch was inspired by the "Little Superstar" viral video and the Disneyland "Tower of Terror" ride (before it got its Guardians of the Galaxy face-lift).
  • Tom Hanks made a lot of last-minute character decisions just before the show went live. That included the voice he did, the two-finger point, and his "insane face."

Just in case you forgot (or just need a laugh), here is the original "Haunted Elevator" sketch from Saturday Night Live.