Are You Afraid of the Dark? Episode 2: “The Tale of Laughing in the Dark”
A recap and review of Are You Afraid of the Dark? Episode 2: “The Tale of Laughing in the Dark”
Storyteller: Betty Ann
The Midnight Society:
- One of the rarer episodes where we begin with the story itself and not with The Midnight Society
- After briefly showing the audience the legendary Zeebo, we are taken to The Midnight Society where our story officially begins:
- Weegee, his little sister Kathy, and his friend Josh attend the local amusement park where they eventually come upon the the park’s funhouse….Laughing in the Dark
- Weegee says to Josh that he’s heard it’s haunted and that weird things happen on the ride. Josh gives Weegee and his sister crap about being scared of the ride and it’s resident clown, Zeebo, and goes to enter
- A man suddenly appears, curious that Josh doesn’t believe in Zeebo and asks him if he cares to enter where if you “Pick the right door and you’ll go free. Pick the wrong door and there he’ll be”. Rightfully scared of the crazy old man, Josh denies the invitation
- The next day the kids, still curious from the events at Laughing in the Dark, look up on the interwebs the history of the funhouse
- They discover that many years ago a clown named Zeebo stole all the money from a nearby circus and hid in the funhouse. Zeebo, a well known cigar smoker, lit up in the funhouse and it somehow caught the building on fire. Zeebo was trapped inside and presumably died in the fire
- After learning of the history, Weegee and Kathy dare Josh to enter the funhouse. Josh accepts the challenge and goes even further to say that he’ll steal the nose of the dummy Zeebo from the ride
- They go to the park and walk up to the funhouse. The old man appears again, asking if Josh is going to give it go, this time doing so. Josh enters the funhouse, mocking it along the way. Halfway through, Josh encounters what seems to be Zeebo’s ghost, mocking him back. Josh eventually makes it to the end where he must “pick the door to go free”. He ends up finding the door and avoiding Zeebo. As he makes his exit, he remembers that he must get the nose or he loses the bet. Josh walks up to door “6” and opens it where Zeebo appears and seems to lunge towards him. Josh, clearly freaked out, screams and grabs the nose, and then exits the funhouse
- The next day Josh can’t help but gloat about winning the dare and now Weegee must wear the Zeebo nose for a whole week at school. Josh, not happy about losing the bet and his jerk of friend rubbing it in, throws the nose into the side yard where Josh goes to retrieve it. While doing so, Josh smells what seems to be cigar smoke and goes back to the house. Around the corner, the audience sees smoke and hears snickering.
- Josh goes home where he finds his parents have gone off to the theater for the evening. He begins to prepare his dinner, when all of a sudden, some strange things begin to happen. Among these, his dinner being replaced by burnt cigars and a strange phone call from someone demanding to “give it back”. Josh runs upstairs to his room where the phone rings again. Josh answers and it’s Weegee apologizing for being a sore loser from the bet. Josh, hoping that it’s just Weegee playing a prank, asks him if he called a few minutes ago, and Weegee denies it. Another voice enters the conversation where it states “if you don’t give it back, I’ll come up and get it”. Josh, now hysterical, asks Weegee if it’s coming from his house, where Weegee states “Josh, we only have one line”….Oh shiiiiiiit
- Josh runs to his bedroom door to lock it, and gets there just in time as it begins to open. Josh looks down at the door and sees a shadow moving back and forth
- Then a balloon blows up and floats from underneath the door, popping in Josh’s face. Scared shitless, Josh exits his home through his window
- Josh goes back to the funhouse while it’s closed in hopes of ending Zeebo’s revenge on him. He enters the funhouse and goes through the whole thing again, eventually ending up back at the room of doors. He has second thoughts and attempts to leave. Door “6” has different plans and Josh turns around to see Door “6” open and way too many flashing strobe lights going off. Josh offers a peace treaty by providing Zeebo his nose back and a box of cigars (where the hell did he get those?), while also apologizing
- Zeebo seemingly accepts Josh’s apology and the door closes. Josh exits the funhouse and is free of Zeebo’s torment. As he runs out, the old man who runs the funhouse appears and states one more time to the audience that it’s “the most fun in the park, when you’re laughing in the dark” and begins to laugh hysterically along with the giant Zeebo sign on the building
“The Tale of Laughing in the Dark” itself is told so well for a kid’s show. There is an obvious plot, a great build up the whole time, and a clear direction. Bah, enough with the review jargon, this is about as good as an episode as you can get. It’s my favorite and the best.
Me personally? I don’t get the clown thing, but what seems like a large majority of the population are terrified of clowns. While not scared of clowns though, that dummy of Zeebo is actually pretty terrifying to anybody and thus gets a perfect score. That smile…..ughhhhh
Scare Factor: 10/10
Like I said about clowns earlier, “The Tale of Laughing in the Dark” is already terrifying for a portion of the population due to the monster being a clown. Not to mention the brilliantly scary scenes throughout the entire episode. Whether it’s the old man, Zeebo’s ghost, the broad daylight sighting of the cigar smoke, and eventually all of the things that happen in Josh’s home, this gave kids nightmares for years!!!
I thought the kids did a great job acting in “The Tale of Laughing in the Dark” and the character of Zeebo lives on even decades later.
“The Tale of Laughing in the Dark” is so sinister and the ending is technically a happy one? Josh is such a cocky little….person that you almost hope that he ultimately learns his lesson the hard way….just kidding…he’s a kid after all.
Total Score: 47/50
In case you missed the last episode, click the below link: