You know the one we're talking about. That's it right up there. A man clad entirely in black wearing a pumpkin mask dances to the Ghostbusters theme. It's amazing. I could watch it for hours. It's like a happy pill in YouTube video form.
The mysterious dancing pumpkin man first appeared on YouTube in 2006, but it didn't really start to go viral until it was featured on sites like Videogum and Buzzfeed three years later. Once the video started to get more attention, it didn't take long until it was a part of Internet infamy. It's a GIF and a meme. People dress up as the dancing pumpkin dude for Halloween. As they should — his moves are fresh to death, which is exactly what you want in a Halloween party outfit.
Now, the true tale of the dancing pumpkin's origins has emerged. He's been unmasked, if you will. The man behind the graveyard jig is Matt Geiler, who in 2006 was hosting the 10 o'clock news at KXVO, an Omaha CW affiliate. His anchor job required only two minutes of actual news reporting at the beginning. Beyond that, Geiler had 22 minutes to fill on the air.
According to Studio 360, the team was brainstorming ideas for their Halloween show in 2006 when Geiler pitched the pumpkin dance. "I've got this one thing where I put on a unitard and a pumpkin head and dance at people's graves. I want to call it 'Happy Jack: The Grave Dancer.'" Geiler didn't think his manager would be into it, but he said, "great," and millions of YouTube viewers' lives were made.
They weren't able to film the video in an actual cemetary, so Geiler just danced in front of a green screen. The segment was pre-recorded, which is why you're able to see Geiler himself at the end of the video (he's the blond guy with no torso in the KXVO studio frame).
A producer uploaded the pumpkin dance onto YouTube, and as previously mentioned, it started to take off in 2009. Geiler was happy about it, but he still maintained his artistic integrity. America's Got Talent called, and he thought it was in response to his submitting tapes of his stand-up comedy to the show. They just wanted him for Pumpkin Dance, though. He wasn't into it.
"I will not ruin the sanctity of that character. If you try to recreate it, it's just, you know, dumb," he told Studio 360.
Instead, the Pumpkin Dance lives on in Internet infamy, resurrected every Halloween by gleeful video and GIF sharers. And, the green screen turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The station was able to do a holiday version of the happy dancing pumpkin, which you can watch on the next page. (Studio 360)