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Make Me Laugh – A Comedy One-Shot Contest

TheCharredDragon

One world, one love, shadows of mass destruction
Wooo! It's out! Congrats to the winner! And wooo! @mehmeh1! Good on you for getting second place bud! I'm happy for ya! :D

Now let's see what stuff I wanna reply to...
BAY

I see that you're having this as a parody of the main games and a bit of the anime too.

Yeah. The anime bit though was mostly because I wanted a "parody" evil team and rival and Ash and Goh were my first choices.

While first-person point of view is a mixed bag for many people, I think it works well here as it shows Magenta's wit here. I also like the narration going back and forth with the Pika-announcers and the craziness happening. (I admit I also didn't see Magenta going to get a water Pokemon by diving semi-naked lol).

Well I'm glad you liked that since it has literally been years since I wrote a story in first person, so I'll pat myself in the baxk for that. (I'm glad that caught you off guard. XP)

Speaking of Team Goh, I've watched a good chunk of Pokemon Journeys and get that referenced. I am well aware the anime fans either love or hate Goh, and to be honest I'm more of the former. I guess that reference was a bit in your face to me.

Just to be clear, no I don't hate Goh, but it is most definitely a reference to anime fans either hating or loving him. I just it waa funny to use the "hate" interpretation...and showing him so obviously evil even though Goh really isn't.

I probably didn't do the "obviously ans most despicably evil" well tho.

SPITEFUL MURKROW

Spelling/Grammar

7. Generally good, but there were a lot of typos and tense errors scattered around that could’ve been caught by reading your prose aloud. I’d have been harsher, but this entry was prose end-to-end, so I cut it some slack

GOSH DANG IT. I still have the tense switching habit it seems even though I thought I mostly had that corrected...grammar not too surprised...I really should read it aloud...

Character, Plot and Description

6. I get that the story’s gimmick is that it’s “defeat the League in an afternoon and mock series clichés along the way”, but even in spite of that things still felt rushed.

Yeah...admittedly I did try rushing the writing as much as I could because I literally had a week left and, knowing my writing habits, I tried to push myself so that I didn't send it on the day of the deadline. So don't blame ya.

Lots of things suddenly get revealed after the fact like Magenta suddenly picking up new Pokémon or evolutions out of nowhere. You might find it worth considering converting your format from one “long cut” for the story, to a series of short cuts as a vignette or a montage.

Hmm. I quite like that actually. Means I finally have a multi-chapter fic for Pokémon in a long time.

There are a few other larger quibbles that I had with this story, the first of them that I had is that the story’s narration can be a bit confusing since it jumps between inner voice and commentary quite frequently.

Okay that...I got nothing.

More seriously, that was one of the things that was partially because it was rushed but also partially because I was trying out something new, which was first person that would often break the forth wall to speak to the Pika-nnouncers.

Also, you should consider having more description in general since the lack of it makes some scenes hard to follow, and others fall a bit flat. One thing that really stood out from the lack of description was that I didn’t get a solid read on a lot of character details because of it. For instance, it took me a while to pick up Magenta on still being a human in spite of having a Gengar dad and literally going in the luggage with him.

Yeah. No excuse. Except, well, again, I was rushing things so a lot of the time I was like "good enough".

Kinda wish I didn't, but I had other priorities on top of that too, so I thought it was a good compromise at the time.

The part where this stood out to me most as something that undercut the story’s beat was that one 3-page battle sequence set to a very animated anime OP’s lyrics near the end… where all the actual action in it occurs in after-the-fact single bits of dialogue. There are two routes that would’ve improved it there, one would be to describe things more given how the OP you set things to literally is paired with flashy action sequences in its originating work. Or alternatively get a bit meta and use your narration to poke fun at the story quite literally fast-forwarding through various events.

Yyyyeeeaahh...I know I'm a broken record at this point and it's not really an excuse, but just wanna mention all these choices were trying to see how much I can cut myself from going on too long. And that ended up backfiring half the time.

The other big quibble I have is that the characters are a bit dry, especially ones not named ‘Magenta’ or the announcerchus. While it’s funny for some characters like Ash and Goh where the story is taking the piss out of them transparently filling a role, it doesn’t work for all of them. Freesia and his teammates in particular could get more chances to show off their personalities, or else lampshade a lack of them in the narration

Broken Record: ttiiiime~

Okay more seriously, I will keep this in mind as I had quickly grown attached to Magenta and her team, so I'm definitely gonna (try to) flesh them out.

Comedic Value

6. I like the overall premise, but structural issues aside, it felt like there was quite a bit left on the table such as making jokes in the narration about how absurd everything is. The ‘reused assets’ joke was pretty great, but you need a bit more along those lines especially since you establish that the narrator’s a bit of a snarker. For example, in the final Team Evil sequence, it might’ve made sense showing Bianca-chu and Barry-chu get horrified over how Magenta handles it since they were shown being taken aback by her chucking Collector Goh out a window earlier in the story, and the entire sequence there is significantly more violent. It feels like a simple thing that could’ve been done to make that part a bit funnier and more animated.

Magenta’s finale with Bianca-chu and Barry-chu also might’ve worked better showing Magenta getting more and more fed up with their presence as the story went on. She actually seems to be going on that track for about two-thirds of the story, but then winds up backing off in the last third until the very end. The joke at the end works best as a “much-delayed revenge finally arrives” sort of thing, which ideally you want consistent buildup towards.

Oh. I...didn't realize I stopped Magenta being annoyed with the two at that point. Thanks for that.

I generally found the second half of the story to be funnier after I realized what was going on premise-wise. You might want to make it more obvious what the direction of the story is earlier on if you touch this entry up.

With your criticism, I'm definitely gonna do my best to touch it up and polish it.

Concluding Thoughts

Your entry has the ingredients of a funny story and made me smile at times, but it was a bit hit-or-miss on delivery. There are two directions I think you can potentially take things that I think would help:

- In Column A, you could cut the story up into individual scenes to better focus on different sequences that would get expanded. Going this route also also opens doors for stuff like Gilligan Cuts or shot-and-chaser moments that doing a long cut doesn’t lend itself well to

I'm still glad that at least some of it was funny. I'll definitelly be taking this column A. Though I'm gonna have to do some finagaling for an outline and decide on how much I wanna expand it.

If you do expand your entry for publishing, I’d strongly encourage you to add more narration and description in general. They’re both good fodder for absurdist humor in your setup and it helps your audience better visualize what’s going on. Remember that a picture’s worth a thousand words, but you don’t have pictures to work with in a written medium, so you kinda need words to paint a picture :V

-keeps in notes- Also pfft. I love the whole "kinda need words to paint a picture" deal.

I’ll be rooting for you to put a fresh coat of paint over your story, since even if it’s a bit rough right now, I think that a little extra polish on this story would’ve let it hit its comedic notes better. I think the premise is solid, just spit shine it a bit and I think that you’ll have an end product that’ll be really funny and make others laugh.

Thanks! Your critique has given me ideas to do so (or at least try because despite my love for comedy I haven't written much in pure comedic pieces) and so I'm also looking forward to it.

Whenever I get around to it since I'm currently focusing on a long fic...

Some bits of the tale were a bit odd – the trainer was as far as I can tell human, but had a Gengar parent? This didn’t really come up anywhere else in the story or had an impact, which does feel like a missed opportunity. These areas could have been used to make the tale even funnier.

The Gengar thing was a joke on how the dads of the protags are usually missing and so I thought I'd reference that with the whole "dad is dead but hey at least he's here as a Gengar!". I should've made that clearer but...I didn't really think of how and I had the time limit so yeah, didn't want to spend too much time on that aspect.

In short: thanks for all the feedback, especially Spiteful Murkrow's. I'm looking forward to polishing up my entry but I'm gonna still publish it because that (hopefully) polished version is gonna be a long while before I even start.

Again, congrats and thanks to everyone participating! I hope you all had fun.
 

mehmeh1

Time to crunch some binomials......with magic
Wow didn't expect to come up second, but yay! And thanks @TheCharredDragon for making me wanna join. This was really fun to do, though I will say I agree with the criticisms in that there weren't a lot of descriptions and that it could've been better grammatically/structurally heck I can't even think of a word I'd find fitting here!

Also one funny thing is that I had made an outline and..........nothing about Team Skull was there, it's something I pretty much made up as I wrote and somehow ended up stealing the story like a pirate!
 

Auraninja

Eh, ragazzo!
Perhaps if I used the theatre script as more of a skeleton to a more finalized copy, it would have done a slight bit better.

Also, if I may defend myself one time.

When Bay said that it was a missed opportunity for Looker to reference the X&Y meeting with Xerosic, I actually did reference it, albeit sort of in an indirect manner. When Xerosic escaped, Looker said something like "I'll probably meet him again in a story that feels more like an afterthought". I was slightly poking fun of how X and Y's postgame isn't talked about much, a slight jab if you will.

To be honest, the story was slightly rushed because I felt like the contest could use more entries. I think I was doing some career prep at the time.
I think all of the critics agree it should be more fleshed out, which is criticism that I will take to heart.
I'll probably make some edits in the future; I think I have some great ideas.
 

The Walrein

Well-Known Member
Thanks to bobandbill, Bay, and Spiteful Murkrow for their hard work judging all the entries! I feel honored to have won, and look forward to reading everyone else's stories.

A few quick responses to Spiteful Murkrow:

7. The plot was simple and serviceable, but it admittedly felt a bit rushed. Part of that was an artifact of the entire plot being jammed into a long cut where you probably would’ve gotten more mileage dividing up the story into multiple scenes so that you could better sell a progression of time flowing instead of everything feeling like it happened within the span of 10 minutes.

The description you had was pretty good, but even so, you had a number of sequences where there was a lot of disembodied dialogue that could’ve been broken up by the likes of describing body language or minor things in the background for the characters to react to/interact with. There’s no hard-and-fast rule on that, but in general, going past about 4 to 5 lines of pure dialogue tends to get into a danger zone of feeling “talking heads” in nature.

I think part of this might be that I tend to aim for a "rapid-fire" style of comedy that tries to keep the jokes coming as quickly as possible, and it feels like slowing down to add description is an obstacle to this. Also, I don't think I'm nearly as good at writing description as I am at dialogue, and wanted to play to my strengths. That said, I agree that pacing is probably something I need to work on more - mostly I write fairly short one-shots so it's not something I have a ton of experience with.

Pacing quibbles aside, your story felt pretty coherent on the whole. I do have to nitpick the ending for two reasons though. The first is that it’s a bit of a non-sequitur and kinda comes very abruptly without any warning or foreshadowing to indicate that Arceus could suddenly (literally) stick his head into the plot. The second is that Hitmonlee could’ve very easily shot down (har har) Hitmonchan’s stanning of rifles as a superior firearm by bringing up magazine-fed shotguns. Repeating-fire shotguns of that design exist, and I have to give Hitmonlee some crap for going into a proverbial gun fight without knowing that. >:V

Yeah, the ending is definitely a non-sequitor - that's part of what I think makes it funny! I know that sort of humor doesn't appeal to everyone, but it's a trade-off I'm willing to make, . Also, Hitmonlee does bring up the possibility of magazine-fed shotguns (“There are plenty of shotguns that can carry more than two rounds at a time!").

7. I’ll admit, I laughed even if the humor was a bit cheap at times. You obviously really don’t like Hitmontop all that much o<o

I'm actually fairly fond of Hitmontop, even if I think the "spin on your head like a top" style of combat is a bit silly.

I’m looking forward to you putting a fresh coat of paint over things and seeing what becomes of this contest entry sometime in the future. Even if it’s a little rough, you’ve already got a decently funny short story, and I think polishing it a bit would allow your beats to be a bit more impactful.

Unfortunately I don't really have the energy to polish or improve the story at this time, but I appreciate your feedback and will try to take it into account for future work. Thanks for leaving such a detailed review!
 
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