Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Fandom Classics Part 132: A Night (to Try) to Remember

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

One of the kids I work with has recently taken to calling me "Mr. Chuck Norris," asserting that Chuck and I are perfect doppelgangers (for those of you now trying to picture me as him: we aren't).  I'm choosing to take it as a compliment for the time being, though I can't help but think that the subtle implication might be that I look like I'm 70-odd years old.  Whatever; I'll take a comparison to the quintessential Texas Ranger any day.  On an unrelated note, have a review!  My thoughts on zaptiftun's A Night (to Try) to Remember, below the break.

Impressions before reading:  I'm pretty sure I read this back when it first went up on EqD at the start of 2012 (or at least, started it), though I don't remember much about it beyond the premise.  I can't say I'm particularly excited by the prospect of a drunk pony comedy--it's not a combination I find inherently amusing, that is to say--but at the very least that's a darn cute cover image.

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  After Twilight discovers that drinking with one's friends is a common "friendship activity," she arranges for the girls to have a night at the bar with her.  After that, they gather the next day to reassemble what happened last night, with some help from the ponies who got them home.

Thoughts after reading:  The main reason "drunk pony comedy" doesn't intrinsically appeal to me is because--for me, at least--feels far too "earth-like" as a premise for a comedy.  So, the fact that this story opens with the girls at a nightclub, complete with bouncer, karaoke machine, and the works, is a negative in my book.  Whether one accepts that all those things exist in Equestria or not is almost beside the point... that point being that, in terms of both tone and event, the Equestrian setting is neither used, nor particularly considered.

That's not the same as saying that this is a hands/hooves away from being a better piece of original fiction, however.  This story isn't just about drinking, it's about the main six specifically drinking, and whether it take the form of specific events (Twilight drunk-teleporting) or behavior, there's a lot here that does use  the characters themselves.  And those characters (keeping in mind that this was written mid-S2) are all strongly and consistently portrayed; if you can accept "Twilight drinking," then you aren't likely to have any issue with her voicing or behavior, and the same goes for the other ponies.  With that said, it mostly uses them in service of the "obvious" jokes.  Having Fluttershy play against type while drunk, or AJ and Dash getting into a drinking contest, are very predictable.

Now, "predictable" doesn't mean "bad," of course.  And in fact, there's a lot of stock humor here that works very well, because zaptiftun shows a keen sense of timing throughout.  This extends to the overall pace of the story, which uses a series of cutbacks to change up scenes frequently and keep the proceedings fresh and light, but is most noticeable in the way that the author uses occasional asides and minimal but clear descriptions to sell the comedy of this story.  Take this example, where AJ accosts Caramel and Lucky to ask if she's got a big butt:
“Hey guys, sorry to interrupt but I got a question for y’all.” 
“No problem, AJ, what is it?” Lucky asked. 
She turned to give them a profile view of her body, specifically her rump. “Do I look fat?” 
It should be noted that nearly every male has an innate survival sense that activates when a female asks certain questions and it allows them to answer truthfully, if not directly. AJ’s question is near the top of the list of those questions, right along with “Do you think she’s prettier than me?” 
Caramel answered nearly automatically, “You are very well-built and attractive, AJ; right, Lucky?” 
“Uh…I like big flanks and I cannot lie?” 
Despite his name, Lucky was not a very fortunate stallion.
The joke here's as stock as they come (and the Sir Mix-a-lot reference wasn't something I needed, personally), but the presentation is quite good.

As you can probably see from that quote, the editing is quite good on a technical level, with the exception of some inconsistent comma-usage.  Also on display in that quote: there is a lot of referential material, both in the form of jokes borrowed from other media and in quotes and callouts (and, in chapter three, in the form of Fluttershy singing parts of several showtunes verbatim).  The jokes mostly worked for me; they were well-integrated enough that they worked regardless of one's familiarity with the sources material.  The rest, however, was less to my taste.  

Still, what I keep coming back to as I look over this story is that, for all that it didn't particularly appeal to my interests, this was a reasonably enjoyable story that got me to grin a few times.  It doesn't feel like a terribly memorable one (the fact that the only thing I remembered about it was that I'd read it previously only makes me feel more comfortable saying that), but that doesn't make it bad.

Star rating:

I would describe this story as generic and predictable, which I realize doesn't sound complementary... but within the context of being a generic, predictable story, I think it does what it sets out to do very well, and if that thing is more likely to produce some transient enjoyment and a few eye-rolls than a deep and abiding appreciation, then that's still not an awful thing to be.

Recommendation:  If "drunk pony comedy" is a thing that interests you, this is a light, relatively-close-to-show-tone-considering-the-subject-matter take on the idea which won't go too many unexpected directions, but will travel the roads it does very competently.  If that doesn't sound like something you'd be interested in, though... well, you're almost certainly right.

Next time:  Night Guards, by Raugos


  1. I've lately come to realize I have a certain enjoyment for drunk pony comedy. But referential humor is where I draw the line, sir!

  2. I remember another story on EqD a while back which was like this, except that story was a straight-up crossover with The Hangover, which I happened to read before I ever saw that movie. Wish I remembered its name. Could make for good review material.

    1. This the one you're thinking of? The links are dead, unfortunately. There's also one called The Hayngover (of course) on FFN, which might be the same fic

    2. That is indeed the one. Shame it's apparently dead.