I own a two-person horse costume. It’s in my closet in the same giant duffel bag that contains an inflatable Minion suit, a children’s XXL gorilla costume, about a dozen wigs, a fake plastic ass, beards, bald caps, lightsabers, and an expensive, adult-sized Spider-Man spandex that I used to wear around the Esquire office on Fridays. The horse, though, is really the highlight of the collection. It’s got a big, bushy tail, a decorative saddle, and the dumbest face you’ve ever seen. You can wear the top and bottom yourself and get some good laughs, but if you have a buddy who will get in there with you, man, it always brings the house down.
I guess there really isn’t a “house” anymore, though, is there? Audiences went extinct about seven months ago, which was right around the time I decided to stop doing live sketch comedy, mostly because it’s too damn expensive in New York City. For years I’d used the excuse of being a “comedian” to explain the mountain of costumes. And, sure, when you’re in a show and you mention that you own a two-person horse, it awards you a little popularity (everybody wants a horse in their sketch; it’s comedy’s silver bullet). But no production requires you to own enough dress-up clothes to supply an 8-year-old’s birthday party. I don’t perform in shows anymore, anyway! Actually, unless you count remote video streams, nobody does!
So, when I moved in with my girlfriend in June and we had to consolidate two apartments’ worth of stuff into one, I’d run out of justifications for the Spirit Halloween discount rack that was concealed inside my wardrobe. I couldn’t let the costumes go, though. They had represented too much unadulterated fun for me to give them away. And with everything as monotonous and dreary as it is now—especially with a social-distance Halloween approaching this weekend—I’m glad I didn’t put my costumes in the place where, at least hygienically speaking, they belong (the garbage). Because a two-person horse on a Zoom call is still funnier than no horse at all. And you better believe this kind of thinking is going to come in handy for the lousiest Halloween in Halloween history.
I was on a Tinder date about two years ago when I first found out that it was not normal for an adult person to own a bag of costumes for recreation. We’d been talking about my upcoming show, and I mentioned that I’d be unveiling my battery-powered Minion balloon suit. (The sketch was about a character who misinterpreted the meaning of “Minyan,” a Hebrew term that refers to the ten men required for a Jewish funeral. It bombed, but the Minion costume crushed.) “I have a lot of costumes too,” she leaned in and whispered, her interest piqued. Of course, her costumes—like most costumes owned by grown adult people—served a different purpose than mine. Nothing against my date, but when it comes to costumes, I’m really only in it for the bits.
Like in college, when I followed some friends to a frat party wearing a wig that looked like my own hair. The whole party, I observed in satisfaction the confused glances of the frat guys and gals, all of them curiously eyeing the thing on my head. Was it my hair? If not, why wear a wig that looked so much like normal hair? I imagine these questions haunt them to this very day.
The bits didn’t end with college. As I mentioned earlier, before the Esquire team was all sent off to our miserable “home offices,” I’d begun to treat Friday evenings as a chance to show my true face, ironically by hiding it. This would explain the Minion sightings in the office, and the few times Spider-Man was spotted wearing designer menswear from the fashion closet. One time, I ended up trekking all the way home to Brooklyn disguised as Spider-Man. It wasn’t so bad—although a man did follow me along the street in his truck, yelling, “Hey, Spider-Man! Show us your cock!”
When the lockdown first began, I’d often appear on Zoom calls in my gorilla suit or dressed as a pirate. Why the hell not? We are living in such a stupid, ridiculous time. If I’m expected to pretend like interacting with my friends and loved ones through a camera the size of a jujube is normal or meaningful at all, then I should be allowed to do it dressed as Darth Maul! To me it makes just as much sense as a “Zoom birthday party.” Though, I’ll admit, I haven’t been invited to too many of those, after sitting there dressed as a horse during serious virtual conversations one too many times, I think.
It’s Halloween this weekend. And, sure, maybe costumes aren’t appropriate in all settings. But I think, between the impending catastrophe of the election, the gloominess of this early-onset winter, and the fact that, well, any “friend” we used to have is now more or less just a glorified pen pal, we’re all relying on each other to make this October 31 a fun one. One way to do it—whether you’re going to go out and (safely) celebrate with your pod or not—is to put on a damn mask with that costume and accept the chaotic madness of this moment for a day. Or a week, or forever!
If every last day of this godforsaken year is terrifying, why not wear something that suits the mood? Dress up as Dracula on Election Day! Attend your next family Zoom conference as the Babadook! Spook your GrubHub guy wrapped in toilet paper like a mummy! Or, if you really want to spark some joy in your relationship this Halloween weekend, get yourself a two-person horse. The one I ordered is only $ 129—that’s less than $ 70 each!
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