Friday, 1 July 2016

Are You Afraid of the Dark? 01x02: The Tale of Laughing in the Dark

We’re celebrating Canada Day with this nation’s greatest contribution to the history of television: Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Did you know, non-Canadian friends, that many of the most popular children’s shows were and are Canadian co-productions? It's true! We're really good at stuff for kids!

Are You Afraid of the Dark? was co-funded by Nickelodeon and Cinar to capitalize on the juvenile horror craze of the early 90’s. Scholastic’s Goosebumps series was flying out of book fairs, and everyone wanted to capitalize on the trend. Later on, Goosebumps itself would be adapted into a Canadian TV show, but it wouldn’t be very good.

Debuting on YTV in 1991, Are You Afraid of the Dark? is an anthology series about the Midnight Society, a group of pre-teens from different backgrounds and different schools, who sneak out one night a week to meet around a campfire in the woods. There, they tell one another spine-tingling stories appropriate for ages seven and up.

The leader of the Midnight Society is Gary, son of the owner of a magic shop, and grandson of a member of the original Midnight Society. It’s kind of implied that this first incarnation was like the real life Lovecraft Circle, which consisted of writers like Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, Robert Bloch, and H.P. Lovecraft himself.

Tonight’s story teller is Betty Ann, probably my all-time favourite of the kids. A shy, sweet girl, Betty Ann likes exploring deep-seated fears and monsters and disturbing implications. When her stories end, everything’s always just fine… or IS IT?!

Betty Ann’s storytelling style isn’t the only thing reminiscent of The Twilight Zone around here, either. The entire series is liberally sprinkled with homages and callbacks to TZ, including a desaturated, almost-black-and-white title sequence featuring random objects taking on an otherworldly presence.

Unlike most episodes, this one starts inside the story, instead of with the kids sitting around the fire.

“The park was called Playland, and it was the best,” Betty Ann narrates over scenes of people walking the midway, the screams of riders on roller coasters filling the air. “You could laugh and scream and get scared on rides, you could stuff up on junk food and ditch your parents, all in one night!”

Playland (filmed in Vancouver’s real life Playland amusement park, where I have vomited many times) has a Hall of Horrors called Laughing in the Dark. It’s got a standard cheesy wooden sign out front, proclaiming the main attraction, Zeebo the Clown.

Inside, two little girls with French braids and overalls scream with delight as a Frankenstein unexpectedly lights up in the darkened tunnel behind them. They run down the hall to the next attraction, and find Dracula waking up from his coffin. His eyes glow, and the girls scream again and hurry on to a man carrying his own head, and finally a room full of distorted doors painted hastily with block numbers. The bright colours of the doors aren’t cheerful, they look sickly and wrong against the slanting jams.

Wordlessly, one of the girls picks a door and opens it with a slow creak.

And we get our first look at Zeebo.

Out of door number six glides a wax mannequin holding a sack with a dollar sign, dressed in purple and green clown cloths, and crowned with frizzy bright red hair. His skin is white, his eyebrows high and thick, his grin is an endless row of thin yellow teeth, his lips are painted the colour of an oil slick and stretch all the way to the thin diamonds around his glowing eyes. And in the center of his face? A round, red nose.

“That’s it. I’m out!” A voice cuts into the narration of the story.

We cut to the Midnight Society sitting around their campfire, and see that Kristen was the one who stopped the story. Kristen was the blonde, beautiful one who was rich but sad about it. Her stories tended to be about things that everyone can relate to, like when your mother says you can’t go to the stables because that’s where your aunt died during a fox hunt.

She gets up and starts looking for her thermos, explaining that she’s not interested in clown stories. Clowns are creepy and give her nightmares.

…It’s a horror story club, Kristen? The whole point is creepiness and nightmares?

Eric, who only appears in season one, pipes up that the fear of clowns is called bozo-phobia. (It’s actually called coulrophobia, but it’s not recognized by the World Heath Organization. Also, clowns are just people in make-up, so if you’re afraid of clowns, you’re really just afraid of humans. And, ultimately, who isn't?)

Kiki, the tough-as-nails tomboy who likes ghost stories, seems pleased.

“Looks like we finally found something wrong with Miss Perfect!”

Betty Ann looks extremely proud of herself for scaring the hell out of Kristen with her stinger. She hasn’t even gotten to the actual story yet!

Betty Ann Looking Smug

Kiki and Kristen have a rivalry based largely on the fact that Kristen is sad about being beautiful and rich. Betty Ann sides with Kiki, and all the love-sick boys side with Kristen, because she’s beautiful and rich.

Defiantly, Kristen sits back down and tells Betty Ann to do her worst.

Gary says before anybody does anything, the ceremonies of the Midnight Society have to be honored. Nobody can just start talking, Betty Ann.

He hands her a suede sack full of mystery dust, and she throws it onto the fire, causing it to flick up in a sudden surge of bright sparks. The title of the episode appears in the flames, as Betty Ann recites:

“Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, I call this story The Tale of Laughing in the Dark.”

Everything was always submitted for approval, as another TZ homage to Rod Serling’s narration often beginning with a similar phrase.

And the mystery dust?

Certain things can cause your campfire to turn into a ghost story lightshow. You can use sea salt for simple orange flames with sparks, Borax for light green flames, water softener salt for a very crackly purple fire, and Epsom salts for eerie white flames. Just make sure it’s not too windy, or you’ll blow chemicals in everyone’s faces, use only a handful, and don’t cook on the fire afterwards. It’s an end-of-evening deal. Also, flour will make a flash flame, and sugar will make sparkles, if you’re on a budget.

But enough science, back to the evil clown!

Josh is one of those kids who jokes a lot to hide his inner turmoil, he’s ginger haired, confrontational, and insensitive. His best friend is Luigi, called Weegee for short, a more reserved young man. Weegee has a little sister named Kathy, who manages to be that rare combination of outspoken and not annoying.

These three amigos are hitting up Playland after sundown, when it’s at its most dangerous and ill-advised to visit. They kid Weegee about almost blowing chunks on the roller coaster, and soon they wander into a less populous area of the park.

The kids find themselves standing in front of Laughing in the Dark, Zeebo’s painted face leering at them from the sign.

Weegee, Josh and Kathy at the amusement park

Josh wants to go in.

Of course he does.

Weegee takes a hesitant step back, and Kathy explains to Josh that Laughing in the Dark is haunted. Like, legit haunted. She says “for real” instead of legit, though, because it was 1991.

An early autumn breeze kicks up, swirling the first few fallen leaves, and catching Kathy’s be-scrunchied ponytail. (Oh, scrunchies. Why did anyone ever think you looked good?) The sky feels darker, starless and looming, but Josh doesn’t notice or care. He calls Kathy a twerp and a chicken, then starts making those baw-ba-caw noises and doing the flapping arms thing. You know the one.
He’s so caught up in his taunting, he backs right into a carney.

The carney looks strangely old fashioned, with a straw boater in his hand, a red and white striped jacket, and a moth-eaten red bow tie. Picture a slightly demonic version of Professor Harold Hill and you’re on the right track.

“Don’t believe in old Zeebo, eh?” The carney smiles wide with a mouthful of tobacco stained teeth. “I run this place, I do. And he’s in there, alright. Just waiting. Pick the right door, and you’ll go free! Pick the wrong door… and there he’ll be.”

The Zeebo sign’s eyes light up, and a speaker behind it plays maniacal, giggling laughter.
Josh gulps down a wave of fear and says that he’s got other things to do. Maybe they can all check out this terrifying place some other time? K, thanks, bye!

The old carney chuckles at the kids scrambling away and calls after them that he’ll be there, whenever they decide to change their minds. He’s always there.

Josh turns back for one last look at Laughing in the Dark, but the old carney is gone. All that’s there is the entrance, and Zeebo’s painted face giggling away, seeming to be looking right at Josh.

“Are you okay?” David asks over the story, breaking the spell and taking us right back to the Midnight Society. David’s major crush on Kristen motivates all of his stories.

Kristen, looking a little bit nauseated, nods as cheerfully as she can.

“You’re not thinking about all the nightmares you’re going to have tonight?” Kiki asks, voice dripping with faux sympathy.

Gary tells her to give Kristen a break, and everyone fails to recognize that this is a horror story club. I’d say that Betty Ann is slaying her turn as storyteller, and the attention should be on how awesome she is, not on Kristen’s lack of understanding that fear was probably going to be the side effect of joining the group.

Frank, the hooligan of the group and the only boy to not be in love with Kristen, eagerly asks Betty Ann to keep going. He wants to know what kind of freaky stuff happens in that fun house.

That’s what Josh and Weegee wanted to know, too…

One of those orange street hockey balls hits the back of a net, taking us into the story once more. All three kids are hanging out in Weegee’s weird, hockey themed room. The floor is painted with those ice lines, and there’s a net and sticks, and posters of Gretzky, and other hockey-looking things. I don’t know anything about hockey, and before you get all: “But you’re Canadian!” I’m from the West Coast, and we only care about hockey when we’re winning, and even then most of us don’t understand the rules.

The Kids in the Hockey Bedroom

Weegee has been doing some research at the library, using microfilm and Xeroxes because there wasn’t any internet back then. It turns out that the current Laughing in the Dark house isn’t the original one. Back in the 1920’s, on the same spot as the current one. One summer, a travelling circus set up on the fairgrounds next to Playland’s location, and that circus had a clown named – you guessed it – Zeebo.

Zeebo was a bad dude, and an even worse clown. In 1924, he stole the circus payroll of four thousand dollars. In 1991, that would’ve been around forty thousand bucks, and nowadays that’s like fifty-six thousand. So a pretty good chunk of change, but not like an insane amount.

He got caught, according to a newspaper report from the time, and fled into Playland, where he hid inside Laughing in the Dark. But it wasn’t as good an idea as he thought.

Zeebo was a big cigar smoker, and as near as police could figure it, he threw a still-lit butt on the floor of the fun house. The whole thing caught fire, with Zeebo trapped inside. He burned to death.

“Smoking’s bad for your health,” Josh quips with a shrug.

Weegee goes on to explain that a few years later, when the replacement Laughing in the Dark was built, they put a fake dummy of Zeebo at the end, in order to scare everyone who knew the story. That’s brilliant! Kind of unethical, but from a marketing angle? Genius!

Legend has it that the ghost of Zeebo is still there. Trapped for all time.

Josh decides to break the tension by having a tickle war with Kathy. They wind up in the front yard, where Kathy defends herself with a trash can lid.

After that fun interlude, Josh tells Weegee to lighten up about the Zeebo thing, but Weegee argues that kids have seen weird stuff in the hall of horrors. Josh reminds him that the hall of horrors is designed to scare children, and the whole thing is just a really solidly creepy gimmick.

Weegee gets a little miffed, and dares Josh to go into Laughing in the Dark alone.

Weegee Dares Josh

We get an interesting scene change from a zoom in and out of Weegee’s purple t-shirt, and the kids are now standing in the same formation at the amusement park, instead of the front yard.

Kathy asks Josh how he’s going to prove he went all the way through the attraction, instead of just loitering at the entrance and coming back out after like ten minutes or something.

“Not only am I going to go through this whole place alone, but when I find that dummy clown, I’m going to steal his nose.”



First of all, stealing is wrong. You shouldn’t steal things.

Second of all, probably topping the list of things you shouldn’t steal are haunted clown’s noses from terrifying wax effigies.

“And you’re going to wear it to school for a week!” Josh points at Weegee.

Weegee says no, but Josh manages to arrange it less like a dare and more like a bet, and Weegee relents.

Kids, it’s a bad idea to steal haunted items. It’s a terrible idea to wear them.

Josh tentatively approaches the entrance. As he comes to the pair of brightly painted doors, they swing open suddenly and the old carney from before is there.

“Sorry, my lad. Didn’t mean to scare you,” he smiles. Behind him, a curtain of ribbons in red, pink and yellow flick back and forth, looking suspiciously like hellfire. “Going to give it a go, huh?”

“Yeah,” Josh smiles back feebly, “Why not?”

“Why not, indeed?” The carney smiles, and with a flourishing bow rolls the hat off of his head and into his hand as he presents the open entryway.

“It’s the most fun in the park, when you’re Laughing in the Dark.”

Josh braces himself and walks through the ribbons.

The old carney is still smiling as he closes the painted doors with an ominous creak.

As we saw during the intro, Laughing in the Dark is a maze of darkened hallways with monsters that suddenly move and get backlit. The best one is the Frankenstein, who we can see now has been bafflingly dressed to look like a grunge musician. It’s less like a creepy modern update, and more like you’re expecting him to ask you if you’re into craft beers.

Josh jumps at the sudden movements, but it’s more reflexive than frightened. He quickly adjusts to how the whole thing works, and when he gets to a row of fun house mirrors, he’s back to his jokey brash self. The first one makes him short and squat, the second one tall with a bulbous head. He spends some time stretching his reflection, and cracks a smile.

“Look at me,” he chuckles, “I’m Zeebo! Hand over the dough! What do you think I am, some kind of clown?”

He moves to the third mirror and gasps.

In its place is Zeebo himself. He looks a little different than the last time we saw him. There’s something more realistic about his proportions and costume. And he’s moving. Something the wax dummy didn’t do before.

The more human looking Zeebo

“What do you think I am?” A voice whispers, “Some kind of clown?”

Outside, Kathy starts to feel bad about sending Josh in alone, but Weegee tells her that Josh deserves it. Which I disagree with, because though Josh is kind of obnoxious, he doesn’t deserve to be murdered by a clown ghost. Very few people do.

Back inside, Josh finds himself looking at the mirror as though the clown had never appeared. He shrugs it off as part of the ride, even though he’s a little shaken by it, and carries on with a sudden determination. He takes no notice of the attractions that light up as he storms by, until he gets to a rolling dragon’s head that breathes real fire.

Given that the original Laughing in the Dark burned down and there are often unsupervised kids in here, this is insanely irresponsible.

Josh passes it by easily enough by waiting for it to retract, but come on. That thing is not safe.

He follows a set of painted arrows into a dead end, where the arrows loop back around, guiding him in a circle that takes him back the way he came. He notices this, and puzzled begins to head back. But he’s overwhelmed with the scent of cigars, and stumbles backwards through a false wall. A secret passage that lands him right in the room of colourful doors.

“Pick the right one, and you’ll go free!” The carney’s voice reminds him, coming from nowhere and everywhere.

Josh’s first choice is door number five, which is almost impossible to walk through and opens onto a wooden skull swinging back and forth in front of a painted background. Standard hall of horrors stuff. Creepy penny whistle music plays as Josh slowly approaches door number four. (I’m so glad it’s not creepy calliope music, because that makes me think of Something Wicked This Way Comes and actually unsettles me.)

When Josh swings this door open, he finds a passageway and arrow that leads to the exit. An applause sound effect plays.

Oh, good! Now we can get out of the clown-ghost tunnels full of fire hazards!

Wait a minute. No. Josh doesn’t have his souvenir, and without that he has no proof, and his friends will think slightly less of him for a couple of days. They may even tease him about it, and that’s unacceptable because Josh is the one who does the teasing around here. He closes door number four.

Something draws him to door number six, possibly the fact that it’s the only adult-sized door that a dummy could feasible roll in and out of. The penny whistle music slows down, like somebody shot the guy with the penny whistle in the back, and now he’s slowly slumping forward as he continues his song.

Josh opens door number six.

And there’s Zeebo.

It’s not creepily life-like mirror Zeebo this time, but the dummy with the distorted features. That’s nice. Real Zeebo was pretty intense.

“It’s only a dummy!” Josh chuckles to himself, as he reaches up and rips off its red foam nose, “Thanks, guy. You just made me a hero. I’m the guy who beat Zeebo.”

The dummy slumps forward, limp and unanimated, it’s eyes still glowing, a skull-like hole in the middle of its face where its nose used to be. You would think that it would look silly or incomplete without the nose, but nope! Still creepy! Maybe even more so!

Josh glides out of door number four like he was made of bravado and Red Bull, with one last quip to the spirit of Zeebo:

“Hope you can still smell your stinky cigars without your nose!”

Move over, Oscar Wilde, there’s a new wit in town.

As door number four closes, we pan across to door six and down. A cloud of cigar smoke is curling out from under the door.

Time to check in on the Midnight Society!

Kristen has barricaded herself with boys. Eric and Gary are positioned in front of her like the royal clown guards, and when Eric tries to get up and move around because he’s getting a cramp, Kristen pulls him back into place.

“Give up!” Kiki smirks, “You can’t take it!”

In a high-pitched squeak, Kristen insists she’s handling things just fine and Betty Ann should go on.

Kristen and her barrier of boys

Betty Ann pretends like she’s not totally thrilled that she’s freaking someone out this bad, but there’s a definite note of triumph in her voice as she resumes narration.

“Josh was pretty cocky before, but once he got Zeebo’s nose, he was uncontrollable…”

Weegee is sitting on the front steps of his house, the red foam nose stuck on his face, his expression miserable.

Josh gloats that after Weegee’s week of wearing it, he’s going to have it mounted like a trophy. With an engraving that reads: “The kid who beat Zeebo.”

(Could you imagine if you went to some old man’s house, and there were all these weird trophies and one of them was a clown nose? And he said he stole it from a malevolent carnival ghost when he was a lad? “That was my first one. Zeebo. After that, I couldn’t stop. It was like a high, each evil spirit more dangerous than the next, each totem harder to obtain. But Zeebo… there was something special about him…”)

Kathy tells Josh to admit he was a little scared during the whole thing, but Josh won’t do it. He says the whole thing was a cake walk, and there was nothing in Laughing in the Dark but cheesy dummies and bogus sound effects.

Fed up, Weegee rips off the nose and throws it into the bushes saying that Josh is a hero and he’s a loser, and there’s no need to rub it in. He and Kathy head inside the house, while Josh goes to get the nose.

He easily finds it, but as he picks it up, he notices something strange.

The sudden odour of cigars.

An eerie music-box carnival theme plays, a variation on the penny whistle song from earlier, as Josh looks around nervously. A breeze shakes the trees, and he looks down at the nose with uncertainty. He quickly shakes it off, and puts the nose in his pocket before heading home.

At the side of Weegee’s house, an unseen figure smokes a cigar, and laughs softly.

The music in this episode is really good, I’m noticing. It was done by Jeff Fisher, who worked on several more episodes for this series, and also on the more recent Monster Buster Club.

It’s sundown when Josh gets home, to find a note from his parents reminding him that they have theater tickets for the evening, and won’t be back until quite late. A plate of spaghetti is in the freezer, and he can have some chocolate pudding from the fridge. A+ dinner planning skills, Josh’s Mom, that doesn’t sound like a disgusting combination and a terrible way to store spaghetti at all.

Josh puts the spaghetti in the microwave, and grabs the big bowl of pudding from the fridge. He then starts eating it with his fingers which is so gross I can’t even. Like straight out of the serving bowl, with his hand. We live in a civilization that has spoons, Josh. Seriously.

He hears a noise, like a door being closed, and jumps.

He drops the whole bowl – about twenty-four servings of pudding by the looks of it – onto the kitchen floor. The chocolate concoction splashes out, and Josh nervously calls out: “Mom? Dad?”
Without making any effort to clean up the pudding explosion, Josh makes his way into the living room, where he finds the door to the front closet ajar. It slowly opens a little more, making a noise just like the one he heard in the kitchen.

Josh grabs a baseball bat and warns whoever’s in the closet that if they don’t come out, he’ll bean ‘em. He rips open the door, and a couple of brooms fall out.

Shaking his head, he chastises himself for being so easily scared, when the phone rings.

It’s Weegee. He apologizes for being so sensitive that afternoon, and agrees that a bet is a bet, so he’ll wear the nose. Josh says in honour of their friendship, Weegee will only have to wear it for one day instead of a whole week.

“I was kind of hoping you’d not make me wear it at all?” Weegee says.

“You’re dreaming, pal! Monday is Zeebo day!” Josh laughs, then hangs up.

Such a pleasant lad, that Josh.

The phone quickly rings a second time, and Josh answers jovially, thinking it’s Weegee again, but a more sinister voice speaks instead:

“Give it back. Give. It. Back.”

Josh’s eyes go wide as saucers, and he replies that this isn’t funny, Weegee, nobody’s scared, knock it off. But, of course, we all know that it’s not Weegee on the phone this time. Even Josh knows. He hangs up suddenly, and heads back into the kitchen, talking to calm himself down and also give the young audience a view into his state of mind. Kids are allowed to have slightly hammier gimmicks in that regard, because they’re still learning how to watch stories.

“It’s a joke,” Josh says, pulling a placemat out of the drawer and grabbing a fork, “Just Weegee trying to scare me. I’m not scared. He can’t scare me with kid’s stuff.”

You can tell he’s really not scared because he keeps grabbing fork after fork after fork and putting them on the placemat while he talks. And as we all know, calm and rational people need at least twelve forks for one plate of spaghetti.

Also, he still hasn’t cleaned up that pudding. It’s just sitting there, probably staining the floor.
The microwave beeps, and Josh jumps, then quickly opens it to find a billowing cloud of noxious smoke. Josh covers his nose, and discovers that it’s cigar smoke, and his spaghetti isn’t spaghetti anymore. It’s burnt cigar butts.

He flings the plate away because he doesn’t understand how messes work, and steps back. His heel slides on the edge of the pudding spill, and he looks down to see a clown shoe print in the pudding. (There’s also a big Z embossed in the middle, in case we thought it was a different home intruding clown. Some hand holding for kids is okay, but they’re not morons.)

Josh screams and runs upstairs to barricade himself in his room with the cordless phone. Now in a full-blown panic, he calls Weegee and asks if he’s doing all of this somehow. Weegee denies it, because he’s a block or two away at his house talking on the landline, so he can’t be responsible for this.

There’s a click, like someone picking up another receiver on the line, and Josh asks if Kathy’s picked up at Weegee’s house, but Weegee tells him there’s only one phone there.

“If you don’t give it back, I’ll come up and get it.” Zeebo’s voice announces over the phone, with murderous delight.

Josh looks at his door, and notices that it’s not correctly locked. He leaps over the bed as Weegee’s concerned voice echoes through the phone, because on his end that was pretty intense all of a sudden. Josh manages to fix the lock in time, and he stands back as his tacky glass doorknob – the kind most often seen on bathrooms in need of updates – begins to twist.

Beneath the door, he can see the slim shadows of two feet.

A balloon is inflated from under the door and floats up into Josh’s room. Written on the balloon, in the same shabby scrawl we saw on the doors at Laughing in the Dark, are the words Give It Back.

Just guessing, but I think Zeebo wants his nose back.

The balloon pops in Josh’s face, and he decides he has to get out of the house.

Time for something we should all try at home: jumping from a second story window onto an inflatable pool toy.

Somehow, Josh manages to land safely on a pool dragon that is, no lie, exactly the same kind of pool dragon I had as a kid almost ten years after this aired, and also eerily reminiscent of the fire-breathing dragon in Laughing in the Dark.

Our next stop, no surprise.

Josh breaks into the amusement park after closing – also very safe, try that sometime, too – and when next we see him, he’s hurrying through the hellfire ribbons with a paper bag in hand. As he winds down the blackened corridors of the maze, it’s a much less frightening experience. Dim service lights are on, and Frankenstein and Dracula are switched off, no longer bouncing to life as Josh rushes by.

But there’s still horror to be found in the darkness, as every step begs the question of which Zeebo Josh will find? The one from the mirror, or the dummy behind door number six?

As he passes fire hazard dragon, cigar smoke starts to curl from its nostrils.

The entrance to the strange room of crooked doors opens itself welcomingly for Josh. And on the other side, the bright lights and colours are as jarring as ever.

Josh tentatively steps inside, and the passage closes behind him with a sharp thud!

It’s enough to make Josh drop his paper bag and head straight for good old door number four. But door number four won’t open.

Door number six is working just fine though, and as Josh frantically pulls at the knob on four, it creaks open to reveal a strange light and a cloud of smoke. But no dummy. No Zeebo.

“Okay, I shouldn’t have taken your nose. I’m sorry,” Josh pulls the red nose from the bag and places it on the floor just inside door six, “And just to show there’s no hard feelings? Cigars. All for you.”
He pulls out a box of cigars and places it next to the nose.

Pretty sure, even back in ’91, a minor couldn’t buy an emergency box of cigars in the middle of the night. But whatever.

The spirit of Zeebo seems pleased with the offering, as the door slowly shuts, and number four pops open. The applause sound effect plays, and Josh sprints out of there faster than a rabbit.

Once he’s gone, Zeebo – the dummy not the mirror ghost – wheels out of his door, nose in place, eyes glowing a fiery red, a cigar in his mouth, and the penny whistle music rising to a sinister crescendo.
At the entrance, the old carney watches Josh eagerly race down the midway, putting as much space behind him and the clown as possible.

“It’s the most fun in the park,” The carney grins his yellowed teeth, “When you’re Laughing in the Dark!”

He takes a puff on a cigar and looks up conspiratorially at the painting of Zeebo on the sign.

“The end,” Betty Ann announces triumphantly.

The Midnight Society takes in her story. Frank thinks that the ending means it was the carney pretending to be Zeebo all along, while Gary argues that it would have been impossible for the carney to have done all that stuff in the house. Which, I mean, you could argue against, but it’s Gary’s club.

It is interesting to note that the actor who played the carney – Aron Tager, who would appear in later episodes as recurring character Dr. Vink – also played the live Zeebo in the mirror and provided the voice.

“Maybe the old guy was really Zeebo’s ghost!” David suggests.

Kiki takes the opportunity to needle Kristen some more, but Kristen smugly announces that she made it through the whole story and is totally fine.

And she seems totally fine, until Eric puts on a clown mask and chases her into the woods.
Everyone laughs and chases after them, leaving Gary to quickly and responsibly douse the fire before catching up with his friends. Usually, there’s a ceremonial ending to the night, but this time it got lost in the fun.

Happy Canada Day, everybody! May your fireworks not be rained out and your maple leaf temporary tattoos plentiful!

And remember, dead clowns are no laughing matter…

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