Are You Afraid of the Dark Wiki
The Tale of Laughing in the Dark
Season 1 , Episode 2
Air date August 22, 1992
Written by Chloe Brown
Directed by Ron Oliver
Episode guide
The Tale of the Phantom Cab
The Tale of the Lonely Ghost

The Tale of Laughing in the Dark is the second episode of the first season Are You Afraid of the Dark?, as well as the second episode in total.


Midnight Society Cast[]

Story Cast[]


The episode opens with a scene at night during a full moon. We see huge rides with flashy lights at a big amusement park. Many terrified and excited children are heard screaming, as they enjoy the rides. Betty Ann narrates and explains that the park was called Playland. It was the best amusement park around. There children could laugh and scream and get scared to death on the rides. They also could get filled up on junk food, and ditch their parents all in one night.

At Playland there was a spook house called "Laughing in the Dark". It was dark inside and it was like a maze: depending on the path the visitors take, there are different scary monsters with flashing eyes that pop up to scare visitors. At the end, there are a series of numbered doors. The visitors need to pick the right door to go free. If they pick the wrong door, something scary will come out. Two terrified girls are shown opening door #6. A huge, terrifying clown comes out scaring them as they huddle together screaming.

Kristen interrupts Betty Ann because she is terrified and she can’t take it anymore. She gets up and prepares to leave asking for her thermos. Frank asks her what the problem is, and Betty Ann explains that she was just getting started. Feeling very upset and nervous, Kristen explains that she hates Clown stories because she thinks that they are creepy and they give her nightmares. Eric taunts her, saying that she must has bozophobia: the fear of clowns. Kiki points out to everyone that Betty Ann finally found something wrong with "Miss Perfect". Everyone "oohs" in unison. Betty Ann reminds Kristen that she wasn't the one who said it.

Taking her friends up for the challenge, Kristen agrees to sit down and hear the entire story. She tells Betty Ann to do her worst. Then Kiki tells Betty Ann to go on and see if Kristen can handle it. Gary hands the pouch to Betty Ann and asks her to begin for real now. Betty takes the pouch and throws in a handful of non dairy creamer powder into the fire. The fire intensifies while she introduces her story. Betty Ann submits her story for the approval of The Midnight Society, titling it "The Tale of Laughing in the Dark".


Betty Ann tells the story. The story is about a teenage boy named Josh. He’s hanging out with his best friend Weegee and his little sister Kathy at the Playland Amusement Park. Josh isn't very nice and is somewhat a cocky and obnoxious bully. He constantly teases and belittles Weegee and his sister, making them feel that he is better than them.

The trio arrive at Laughing in the Dark spook house. Kathy refuses to go in because she says it’s supposedly haunted by a ghost clown named Zeebo. Weegee doesn't want to go in either, because he's heard creepy stories about it. Josh can’t believe them. He says he can understand Kathy being chicken since she‘s a little kid, but he can’t believe that Weegee is too. Josh reminds them that it’s just a mere kid’s ride, accusing the both of them of being chickens. He taunts them repeatedly by flapping his arms and making clucking sounds.

Josh bumps into a creepy looking man in a striped suit. The man introduces himself as the Circus Carney who runs the place. The Carney can see that Josh is a non-believer, so he encourages Josh to take on the spook house by himself. The Carney reminds him that at the end, he needs to pick the right door and he’ll go free. But if he picks the wrong door, then there HE’LL be! Then the Carney asks Josh if he’s ready to go in. Josh stares at the spook house nervously before he tells the Carney perhaps he will another time and they leave.

Back at the Clearing[]

Kristen looks tense, so David asks her if she is okay and she says she’s fine. Kiki teases her asking her if she’s thinking about all of the nightmares she’ll have tonight. Gary tells them to give her a break. Frank is really intrigued and he excitingly asks her what happens in the ride. Betty Ann says that was the kids wanted to know. Especially Weegee. Then Betty Ann continues.

Back to the Story[]

Betty Ann continues on. The next day, Weegee and Kathy do some research on the place and discover the place's background story: In 1924, a circus came to town and was set up by Playland Amusement Park. One of the clowns, a smoker named Zeebo, stole the circus' payroll of $4,000. When the police chased after him, he ran into the Playland and hid from the police in the Laughing in the Dark spook house.

He almost got away with it too, but unfortunately, while hiding, he dropped his cigar and accidentally started a fire that burned down the spook house along with him in it. Then a couple years later, a new Laughing in the Dark spook house was built with a Zeebo dummy at the end to scare anyone who walked in it. There was an urban legend that Zeebo still haunted the place. Josh starts tickling Kathy and chases her out of the house. Angry, Weegee dares Josh to enter Laughing in the Dark alone. Josh takes Weegee's challenge and says that he’ll take Zeebo's nose to prove that he made it through to the end. If Josh wins the bet, Weegee will have to wear Zeebo's nose to school for a week.

That night, Josh prepares to enter the spook house. Before he does, Weegee wants him to admit that he’s scared. But Josh denies it, saying he isn't scared so he‘ll go all the way to the end and he WILL bring the clown nose out to prove it. Josh enters the spook house and he ventures through, revealing that he is quite nervous. After trying to loosen his nerves, he then sees what appears to be the real Zeebo behind one of the spook house’s mirrors, believing it is the Carney trying to scare him. When he gets to the end, he hears a message from the Circus Carney: "Pick the right door and you'll go free. Pick the wrong door and there HE'LL be!". Josh opens one of the numbered doors, and it is the right door pointing him the way out. As he is about to leave, he remembers he needs the clown nose, or Weegee will think he’s a scaredy-cat. Josh opens the rest of the doors, finally finding the Zeebo clown. He screams, terrified, before he snaps out of it, reminding himself it‘s just a dummy. Josh steals Zeebo's nose and laughs; saying that now he is a hero: the guy who beat Zeebo. On his way out, Josh taunts the dummy, telling it that he hopes he can still smell his stinky cigars now. The camera cuts to the door Zeebo is behind, and cigar smoke is shown billowing out from underneath it, along with an eerie white light.

Back at the Clearing[]

Eric tries to make a break for it saying he has a cramp. But Kristen tells him she doesn't think so, pulling him down to make him stay and hear the rest. Kiki taunts her, telling her to just give up and admit that she can‘t take it. But Kristen says she’s fine and to keep on going. So Betty Ann happily continues.

Back to the Story[]

Betty Ann continues the story. She resumes by saying. the next day, Josh boasts that he’s now a hero and he should be known as the kid who beat Zeebo. Weegee reluctantly admits that Josh is a hero and he’s the loser. After being teased by Josh, Weegee throws the clown nose into the bushes. Josh goes to retrieve it and smells cigars, but he doesn't see anything. Josh gets the nose, and leaves (the audience, however, sees some cigar smoke coming from behind Weegee and Kathy's house, along with an evil laugh, after he departs).

That night, Josh comes home and discovers that his parents have left a note saying that they are at the theater, have left food for him, and to not stay up too late playing video games. Josh nukes the spaghetti and gets some chocolate pudding from the fridge, but drops it when he hears a noise from the closet. Josh gets very nervous and arms himself with a baseball bat. He warns whoever is in the closet to come out and face him or else he’ll beat them up. Josh opens the closet but he find nobody in there. Josh tries to get a grip on himself. He can only imagine how embarrassing it would be if Weegee could see the way he was acting right now.

Josh answers a phone call from Weegee. Weegee called Josh to apologize for complaining and acting like a baby earlier that day since Josh did win the best fair and square. Josh accepts his apology and agrees to only make Weegee wear the clown nose to school for one day. Weegee disappointingly tells him that he was hoping that they could call it off completely. But Josh just laughs at him and tells Weegee that tomorrow at school will be Zeebo day before hanging up chuckling. Then Josh gets another phone call. A scratchy voice tells him to "give it back." Josh is beginning to freak out now. He tries calming himself down by thinking that the call is a prank from Weegee. He enters the kitchen thinking he will just have dinner to calm down. Then he notices that the microwave is smoking. Josh is confused on how it could have burned so fast. He realizes that the pot reeks of cigar smoke. When he opens it, instead of spaghetti, the pot is full of burnt smoking cigars. He sees there is a footprint with a "Z" in the spilled pudding on the floor. Josh starts screaming.

Josh runs up to his room and calls Weegee, inquiring whether or not he prank called him. Weegee asks him why Josh sounds so scared. Josh confesses that he was scared of the spook house, and he’s really scared now. All he wants to know, is if Weejee just prank called him pretending to be Zeebo. Then another receiver gets in their conversation and Josh asks Kathy to put it down, only for Weegee to reply that his family has only one phone in their house. The call is then interrupted by the strange voice, who says "If you don’t give it back, I’ll come up and get it.”, revealing that Zeebo's ghost is in Josh's house. Josh locks his bedroom door and escapes through his window after seeing a purple balloon blow up under the crack of his door that says, "GIVE IT BACK!" which pops after he sees it.

Josh returns to Laughing in the Dark, enters the last room and returns Zeebo's nose. He sincerely apologizes, and says he has brought a humidor of cigars with him as a peace offering. He says out loud "Okay, I shouldn't have taken your nose I'm sorry" he bends down and puts it on the floor and says "There it's all yours". He gets out the humidor of cigars opens it and shows a few and says "And uh... just to show there's no hard feelings... Cigars! All for you".

He sets them down and leaves. Zeebo accepts the peace offering and lets Josh go. At the end of the story, the carny of Laughing in the Dark says its signature line "It's the most fun in the park when you're Laughing in the Dark!" and smokes a cigar, revealing that he‘s actually Zeebo's ghost.


Betty Ann ends her story by merely saying: the end. Frank mentions it must have been the crazy old circus carney all along. Gary however disagrees on how he could have done all of those things in Josh's house and be at the amusement park at the same time. David suggests that perhaps the carney really was Zeebo's ghost. Kiki agrees with David. Then Kiki teases Kristen by asking Kristen how she feels and if she is going to have nightmares about Zeebo.

Kristen smiles proudly and tells her that she has done it: She has sat through the whole story, and she is okay now. Then she asks her friends on what they have to say about that. Eric startles her in a clown mask. He tells her that it is a good thing, since he doesn't want her having nightmares right away. Kristen gets scared and runs off. Eric chases after her wearing the mask. David chases after him and Gary quickly declares their meeting adjourned and puts out the campfire and before running after his friends.

  • Betty Ann's first story.
  • This is the only time Gary says something official other than "I declare this meeting of the Midnight Society closed." at the end (he hastily says "Meeting adjourned." as he flings water on the fire and with everybody else chases Eric chasing Kristen).
  • The first (and only) appearance of Zeebo, although he is referenced in future episodes as callbacks.
  • One of five episodes to feature a different opening (a door appearing against a sky backdrop opening into a dark area with ghostly images rushing by to form the title).
  • One of two episodes to open in a storytelling rather than at the fire, and the only one where the traditional opening was shown a moment later (Betty Ann started telling the story before an interruption, and it was only after that she threw the powder on the fire and named it).
  • This is the only episode to have more than one break in the story to show the Midnight Society discussing it. Excluding the early interruption during which Betty Ann named the story, there was one break five minutes into the show and another at the halfway (commercial-break) point, where the others teased Kristen for her coulrophobia.
  • The 1924 Circuses payroll of $4,000 going up with inflation over the years was worth $37,200.00 in 1992 and now worth $66,913.00 as of 2023.
  • Aron Tager who portrayed the role of Dr. Vink in the episodes yet to come, portrayed Zeebo / Circus Carney in this episode being the only time he portrayed any other character.
  • Christian Tessier who played Josh would later reappear again in the series in the episode "The Tale of the Curious Camera" as the bully Kullback.
  • Tamar Kozlov who played Kathy in this episode would reappear later again in the second season finale in the episode "The Tale of Old Man Corcoran" as Cissy Vernon.
  • Tamar Kozlov and Jodie Resther would later star in the PBS Kids show Arthur as Prunella Deegan and Francine Frensky.
  • The episode was shot at an amusement park called La Ronde in Montreal.