Pumpkin Up the Jam: 10 Years After His Notorious Dance, Pumpkin Man Lives On
It was the dance that captivated the internet and launched a thousand memes: A man dressed in a black unitard with a foam pumpkin mask, strutting his stuff to a cover of the “Ghostbusters” theme.
The performance has gone down in history, hailed as one of the greatest Halloween videos of all time that has shown no signs of fading from the spotlight, despite its 10-year residency on the internet.
“[People are] still reposting it, still hypnotized by the magic. It’s pretty amazing,” Matt Geiler told InsideEdition.com, laughing at the absurdity of it all.
The dance was Geiler’s brainchild, the result of a desperate attempt to fill airtime on a local news show on KXVO in Omaha, Nebraska, where anything went, he said.
“It was just a mad house trying to shoot, edit and stack all this content by 9 p.m.,” he said. “The week of Halloween, we had some ideas floating around but we got — again — to the end of the day and it was like, 'oh, we have this huge gaping hole in the weather block. What are we gonna do?'"
He dove behind the station’s green screen and emerged with an idea.
“I grabbed this unitard and I’m like, 'let’s throw a graveyard up on the green screen... go get that Sounds of Halloween disk and I’m gonna go grab a pumpkin from the upstairs lobby display and let’s just film,'" he said.
The moves were organic and the routine was unrehearsed.
“What you witness in this video is a spontaneous, lyrical dance that is interpretive only of my inner emotions at the time,” Geiler deadpanned. “It was just a stop-gap thing of like, what a 6-year-old would do if you said to them, ‘Hey! You need to put on a Halloween show right now.’”
The now-famous clip, known as the “KXVO Pumpkin Dance,” has been viewed more than four million times, not including the countless reworked versions that have popped up on all corners of the internet. And like clockwork, come every October, the dancing man in a black leotard and makeshift pumpkin mask can be counted on to rise again.
“I think it’s cool, especially for something that was just such a — literally — a desperation measure to fill time, you know, and I think that’s the cool thing about it. It’s not like a concocted thing,” Geiler said.
He added: “Sometimes, when people contact me about it, they’ll be like, ‘did you know this was going to be [something]’ and I’m like, ‘absolutely not.’ I’m not out there promoting this thing. I’m not selling pumpkin dancer costumes on a website, you know what I mean?”
In spite of the lack of virtually any promotion, the legacy of the pumpkin man dance has followed Geiler throughout his career.
“I was in Wisconsin doing a comedy thing, and this gal came up and she was like, ‘are you … you’re the pumpkin guy. I just found out, you’re the dancing pumpkin,’” Geiler recalled. “I was like, ‘yea, I actually am the dancing pumpkin guy.’ She was like, ‘oh my god, can I take a picture with you and then can we get my mom in it?'"
“In the cannon of work that a human does in their lifetime, there’s the stuff you do, and then there’s the stuff you don’t even think about... this definitely falls under that category,” he continued. “But I think it’s cool. I love it when people are like, ‘that’s a rad thing.’”
Though his impromptu pumpkin dance days are long behind him, Geiler is still making people laugh for a living.
Now residing on Los Angeles, the married father has toured with Wayne Brady, whom he is working with on a musical improv comedy project. He is also an illustrator who has worked on children’s books, editorial cartoons and in animation.
He’s done a lot in the decade since his time as the pumpkin man, but Geiler said he’d doesn’t feel the need to prove it to those who know him best for his killer dance moves.
“I don’t feel like I’m under the gun or under any pressure to like explain, ‘okay now, you’re the pumpkin guy, but you do this, like, how do you pay the electricity bill at the end?’ … I don’t feel like, ‘can’t you get to my real life,’” he said, laughing.
“At the end of the day, you don’t really have an idea of what’s going to resonate with people,” he continued. “But I’m super pleased that moment that I was dancing in a real tight, super tight unitard, has resonated.
"I mean that’s just pure joy emanating out of my pelvis, through screens and mobile devices into other people’s lives. Hey, if I can provide one minute and 24 seconds of joy or giggling or respite from worry or concern to anybody, that’s a good day.”