Who Exactly Is The Internet's Dancing Pumpkin Man?
Spooky season is now officially in full swing, meaning our favorite meme-y Halloween hero has made his annual return. No, I'm not talking about the Sanderson sisters from Hocus Pocus, nor am I talking Disney Channel's Halloweentown star, Kimberly J. Brown bringing back her teen witch get up on TikTok. I'm talking about the internet's most iconic Ghostbusters-gyrating winter squash -- dancing pumpkin man.
But who, exactly, is the man behind the meme, and where, exactly, did he get his sick moves? Well, reader, like the mysteries of Velveeta cheese fudge and the Hot Cheetos conspiracy, I set out for answers behind the biggest spooky season conundrum in the history of the internet.
It was October 2006. Justin Timberlake's "Sexyback" was tearing up the charts (fifth-grade Carly's favorite banger), Friday Night Lights had just made its NBC debut, and Matt Geiler was a reporter, anchoring the 10 p.m. nightly news for Omaha, Nebraksa's CW-affiliated KXVO network, according to WNYC. Two nights before Halloween, Geiler and his team found themselves scrambling to fill their 22-minute "entertainment pop culture" newscast. "We only need a minute-and-a-half of news upfront and then you can do whatever you want. I don't care," Geiler recalled the station's news director telling him. The news team, who Geiler says often found themselves improvising to fill their time slot, had been brainstorming ideas for Halloween newscasts over the past few days, pitching everything from fake murder mysteries to a bunch of men falling into a pumpkin patch. Amid the chaos, Geiler shared an idea he says he never thought would work.
"Why don't you throw up like a graveyard on to the green screen? I'm just going to dance for like four minutes," he recalled of his pitch to Canada's CBC network. "Then we can just put that into the block right before weather and it will eat up some time." Nothing like traffic and weather and a dancing pumpkin man together on the 8's. To his surprise, his boss loved it, giving him the green light to make his spooky dreams a reality.
Come Halloween night, it was finally Geiler's time to shine. "I am joyously gyrating in a black leotard with a pumpkin on my face in a manic celebration in the spirit of Halloween," he explained to Canada's CBC network of the pre-recorded dance he did "out of desperation." At first, Geiler says he didn't think much of his dance, except for a few months later, where he donned the pumpkin costume again as they were short on content during their Holiday programming. Both clips were uploaded to the then baby social networking platform known as YouTube.
For three years, the videos sat there, garnering a handful of views, until Buzzfeed came along. "Nothing happened with it until a guy at, I believe it was Buzzfeed, featured in it in 2009," Geiler explained to CBC. "He was like, 'this is the greatest Halloween video the internet has ever produced,' or something like that. And so that's when it first started to kind of gain it's viral traction." Viral is an understatement. After other publications, including Entertainment Weekly and Huffington Post picked up the story, the video morphed from a funny local news segment into a Halloween legend. At the time of writing, the original video has garnered more than 9.7 million views on YouTube, with his moves set to a trap remix of "Spooky Scary Skeletons," garnering more than 16 million views...
... Several useful reaction gifs ...
... fan-art ...
... and merch ...
... a testament to his status as a modern-day Halloween icon.
In 2017, 11 years after the iconic video first came onto the scene, Dancing Pumpkin man took his star to the highest court of YouTube friendly dancing expertise -- the stage of America's Got Talent.
"It has been in my past for a while, up until America's Got Talent called this year and was like, 'Hey, can we get the Dancing Pumpkin Man on?'" Geiler explained in 2017. "Really I'd only ever done it that one time. It wasn't like a thing I toured around or anything. In my real life I'm an improvisational comedian. I tour a lot, and I do a lot of colleges and clubs. So yeah, it's not something that I do live really."
Despite a strong run as a meme-y favorite, he was eliminated before the quarter-finals. You can't win 'em all, So, dancing pumpkin man, here's to you. Thank you for your sick moves, dedication to the Halloween spirit, and bravery in the face of Simon Cowell. You are the Spooky Season hero we want, need, AND deserve.