Sweetie Belle: Yeah... Instructions on how to use six wooden planks, four-by-eight plywood, a box of nails, four cans of paint, and four brushes.
After fixing up Applejack's old tree house to use as a clubhouse, the Cutie Mark Crusaders go through a typical day of trying anything and everything to find their passion in life and earn their cutie marks. It ends in the usual string of failures, but then the fillies learn that the school is holding a talent show. They decide to put together an act, hoping that will lead to them earning their cutie marks.
Things go badly when the girls branch out from what they know they're good at and do what they want (but are no good at) instead: Apple Bloom, who's good at fixing things but feels that's too mundane, develops choreography with some badly-incorporated karate moves. Sweetie Belle, who has an ear for music and a wonderful singing voice but is prone to stage fright, makes the costumes and sets, resulting in a mess. Finally, Scootaloo, a great dancer and acrobat who wants to sing in a rock band, writes the music and lyrics, resulting in a wreck of Painful Rhymes:
When the night of the talent show finally arrives, the Cutie Mark Crusaders put out a very enthusiastic and ambitious (but also very bad) Hair Metal performance, with off-beat singing, clumsy dancing and collapsing props that leads to them getting laughed off stage. There's at least one bright spot in all this: the girls manage to win an award...for best comedy act.
- An Aesop: Even though there are many talents you can try, it's best to stick with the one that's important: your hidden talent.
- Bittersweet Ending: Although the CMC don't get their cutie marks, they win an award for "best comedy act" and their hopes are still pretty high.
- Brick Joke: When Cheerilee introduces the talent show to the CMC, one of the possible awards is "Best Comedy Act." This is exactly what the girls win.
- Button Mashing: Non-video game example: A frustrated Apple Bloom pushes all six buttons to the psychic card game at once after failing again and again to predict each card.
- The Cameo: As Scootaloo rides her scooter through town, Derpy can be seen in the crowd of townsponies. One eye follows Scootaloo as she flies off the ramp, but the other eye moves in the opposite direction.
- Carnivore Confusion: Why would ponies raise pigs? Word of God is that they're just doing it to be charitable. "Even pigs need a place to live." And that the pigs are excellent at finding truffles. The episode "A Bird in the Hoof" shows a ham sandwich on the table. Charitable indeed, though in hindsight the sandwich may have only been a technical error.
- Comically Missing the Point: Twilight subtly points out their true talents but the Cutie Mark Crusaders decide that because everyone saw their failed music performance as humorous their talents are in comedy. In detail: Scootaloo praises Apple Bloom for fixing up the clubhouse, and Apple Bloom constantly demonstrates her knowledge of design and construction; Apple Bloom praises Scootaloo for her awesome scooter stunts, and Scootaloo shows Apple Bloom how to twirl properly; both of them praise Sweetie Belle for her singing voice, and she helps Scootaloo with writing the song for the talent show. So of course, the rather clumsy Apple Bloom prefers dancing over set design, the fashion-impaired Sweetie Belle doesn't want to sing in front of the crowd and would rather design the set pieces and costumes, and tone-deaf Scootaloo would rather handle the singing than dance in front of everyone. But they all get an assist from the Crusader specializing in the task in question.
- The French rendition of the song is a meta example; they forgot it was not supposed to be euphonious.
- Continuity Nod:
- To "The Elements of Harmony", when Cheerilee reads out the awards to be won at the talent show, and the camera pans to Apple Bloom for Drama, Scootaloo for Comedy and Sweetie Belle for Magic. Unlike the other time, when it was perfectly clear, it's hard to see any sensible meaning for this. Still, note that Scootaloo was the lead vocal in the actual performance (and you could make a case for Sweetie Belle, the unicorn of the trio who still lacks unicorn magic, and Apple Bloom bringing the drama as the first CMC in "Call of the Cutie").
- Also, Apple Bloom mentions that she does like karate, one of the things Rainbow Dash tried to teach her in "Call of the Cutie".
- The background music from the cuteceañera in "Call of the Cutie" is now the official CMC theme.
- Disturbed Doves: Scootaloo is framed on either side by a flock of fleeing birds during her slow-motion jump.
- Dreadful Musician: The CMC are so bad the audience mistakenly believe it was a comedy act.
- Failure Montage: The Crusaders have one as they try different hobbies to get their cutie marks.
- Giant Squid: The Cutie Mark Crusaders take up scuba diving, only to get chased by a giant squid. In a lake.
- Hair Metal: The Crusaders' song (and costumes, and hairstyles) is a parody of these genres.
- Hard-Work Montage: In which the Cutie Mark Crusaders fail at everything they try to do to get a cutie mark.
- Head Desk: Scootaloo bangs her head against the piano when she has difficulty composing the Cutie Mark Crusaders' song.
- Hilarity Ensues: During the CMC's performance; they got an award.
- Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Scootaloo wrote the horrendously bad lyrics.
- I Meant to Do That: The Cutie Mark Crusaders are initially put down when everypony laugh at their show. But when they receive the award for Best Comedy Act, they agree right away it was intentionally funny. In the end they even muse if comedy is their true talent.
- Inept Talent Show Contestant: The CMC bomb the talent show.
- Informed Flaw: Compared to where the Cutie Mark Crusaders start out at, their performance isn't that bad. It's balanced to have enough good elements to flow well and be fun to watch while having enough failed elements to be funny.
- "I Want" Song: The Cutie Mark Crusaders' theme song.We are the Cutie Mark Crusaders
on a quest to find out who we are
and we will never stop the journey —
not until we have our Cutie Marks!
- Lower-Deck Episode: Focused on the CMC.
- Mickey Mousing: During the musical montage, different stings of music play when the camera pans across the CMC's flanks as they check them for cutie marks.
- My Hair Came Out Green: The mane of the unnamed client at the opening of the Crusaders' hair salon. She gallops out in tears (and a rainbow Afro)!
- No OSHA Compliance: Mr. and Mrs. Cake seem perfectly fine with letting three young fillies operate a taffy machine, especially when it starts pulling them into taffy (Scootaloo's tail gets caught in the mixer and the other two get sucked in trying to free her).
- Scooby Stack: In the Cold Open. Once the clubhouse wall on which Applejack is leaning collapses, the Crusaders rapidly assume this stance to find out where she landed.
- Shadow Discretion Shot: Spoofed. Applejack watches from the window with a horrified expression as the CMC practice for the talent show, only their shadows on the wall visible to the viewing audience.
- Scootaloo's angry head desking at her piano while shouting "Never, never, never!" is a nod to the old "Don Music" sketches on Sesame Street.
- The costumes the Crusaders wear at the talent show make them look a bit like the Misfits from Jem.
- The lighting at the start of the CMC's song is a shout out to Queen's famous "Bohemian Rhapsody" music video.
- The Show Must Go On: The Crusaders insist on finishing their song as the set falls apart around them, not missing a beat through the whole thing.
- Shown Their Work: Sweetie Belle's explanation of the phrase "Break a leg" is completely accurate to (one of) its possible origins. See here. (The superstition is that wishing good luck on a performance would be Tempting Fate, so it's best to hope something bad will happen instead. Notice how Twilight ends up saying "good luck" just before the crusaders go on stage...)
- So Bad, It's Good: An in-universe example. The Cutie Mark Crusaders' Hair Metal act is so terrible that they end up getting an award for Best Comedic Act in the talent show.
- Staggered Zoom: During the quote at the top of the page.
- Stylistic Suck: The Crusaders' performance.
- Title Drop: Twilight's preferred method of address to the CMC. She seems to be emulating her mentor Princess Celestia, who refers to any group of ponies younger than herself (i.e., everypony) as "my little ponies".