Cheese Sandwich: It's not a joke. And even if it was, I... I wouldn't be able to laugh at it.
Special Guest: "Weird Al" Yankovic as Cheese Sandwich
Knowing that Twilight's coronation is close, and that her other friends will have their own responsibilities for the rest of their lives, Pinkie becomes concerned that she doesn't really have a purpose in life. However, as she explains this to the others, she tells them that she wrote to her friend Cheese Sandwich for advice, and he has asked her to visit his joke/novelty factory.
When Pinkie arrives there, she finds the security rather tight until she introduces herself to the guards, who have been expecting her. Inside, she meets Sans Smirk, the manager of the factory. His dry demeanor and deadpan expression confuses Pinkie, as he doesn't seem the type to be running such a factory. However, he shows her the various gags and other toys being developed, as well as research being done into new comedic items; Pinkie finds this unusual as while they are funny items, it doesn't seem to be the type of stuff Cheese would have done. After the tour, Sans takes Pinkie to meet Cheese, who has lost most of his joy, and thus why he had written for Pinkie to come here.
Cheese explains that after he left Ponyville, he continued to throw custom parties for ponies across Equestria, but soon his services were more sought after, and it became difficult for him to keep up. Sans Smirk approached him with the idea of building the factory to mass-produce his novelties, and the business prospered. However, it soon became humorless drudgery for Cheese, who has become desperate for a way to laugh again. With help from Sans, Pinkie tests several new pranks and tricks on Cheese, but none of them succeeds.
As Cheese fears that his sense of humor is gone for good, several factory workers approach the office door to talk with him. He inadvertently makes a spoonerism, causing them to start laughing, and realizes that he needs to see ponies enjoying his jokes and pranks in person. Upon getting everypony in the factory to join in on the fun, including Sans, Cheese is overjoyed to regain his silly demeanor.
Cheese turns the factory's day-to-day operation over to Sans and ventures out into Equestria to spread joy again, promising to send in any new joke ideas he thinks up. Realizing that his purpose and hers are the same, Pinkie returns to Ponyville with a new determination to help her friends laugh when they need it.
- 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: The cupcake invitation is very clearly a 3D model.
- An Aesop:
- Don't try to stop yourself from achieving your personal goal in life.
- No-one can tell you what your purpose in life is. You need to figure it out for yourself.
- Bait-and-Switch: Pinkie's joke ideas tend to revolve around inverting an aspect or mechanic of a traditional gag.
- The ideas she proposes early in her visit involve a squirting flower that doesn't squirt, with the water coming out of the suit it's attached to instead, and a banana peel that's sticky instead of slippery.
- An attempt to get Cheese to laugh involves the old "bucket on a door" trick, but, instead of there being water in the bucket, a geyser of water blasts Cheese from under his hooves.
- She then squirts him with a fountain pen full of disappearing ink, but as soon as the spot fades, half a dozen more appear on Sans' jacket instead.
- Banana Peel: One of the comedy factory's projects is one that goes into a Slippery Skid all across the floor, tripping up everyone it slides under. Pinkie suggests inverting the gag by making the peel sticky instead of slippery.
- Book-Ends: The episode begins and ends at the Castle of Friendship.
- Buffy Speak: When Pinkie first sees Cheese's comedy factory, she calls it "desolate-y".
- The Bus Came Back: After having a cameo appearance in the Season 4 finale and the 2017 movie, Cheese Sandwich finally makes a full return in this episode.
- The Cameo: Kettle Corn from "Marks and Recreation" makes a brief appearance in Cheese Sandwich's flashback.
- Can't Catch Up: Pinkie Pie feels this way in regards to her accomplishments during the series, thinking they pale in comparison to what the rest of the Mane Six have done. This is what prompts her to seek Cheese Sandwich for advice.
- Continuity Cavalcade: Pinkie lists off everything the others have accomplished; Twilight will soon become the ruler of Equestria, Rarity has multiple boutiques, Rainbow Dash is a Wonderbolt, and Fluttershy has her animal sanctuary. (She also says that Applejack has her farm, but that's always been true.)
- Continuity Nod:
- Cheese Sandwich wears his hat and poncho at the end of the episode, just like back in his debut episode.
- Boneless 2, the replacement for the original Boneless, also returns.
- Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: Pinkie starts the episode like this, believing that all her friends have moved on to bigger and better things, leaving her behind.
- Dull Surprise: Parodied with Sans Smirk, who rivals Maud in terms of deadpan wit and, barring a few changes of expressions (such as him widening his eyes when Pinkie tells him her idea for the squirting shirt), almost never changes expression throughout the episode. Even when Cheese says he's shutting the factory down, all Sans can say is "I too am horrified" while having a completely neutral expression.
- Electric Joybuzzer: One of the gag item produced by the factory. Pinkie uses it on Sans Smirk among her attempts to make Cheese Sandwich laugh, to no avail.
- Even the Dog Is Ashamed: According to Cheese, Boneless 2 doesn't even recognize him anymore now that he can't laugh at anything. As soon as he says this, the screen cuts to Boneless 2 sitting in a chair nearby, only for the chair to turn away from Cheese.
- Extreme Omnivore: Pinkie takes several bites out of the fake cupcake Cheese Sandwich's invite was sent to her in.Spike: Uh, Pinkie, are you sure this is edible?
Pinkie: I am not! [takes a third bite]
- He's Back: Cheese recovers his true nature after inadvertently making a worker laugh with a Spoonerism.
- Innocuously Important Episode: "The Last Problem" shows that this was far more important to Pinkie finding her life's purpose than she realized at the time.
- It's the Best Whatever, Ever!: Just before entering the main factory, Pinkie says "Wow! A whole factory dedicated to gags! Ooh! I bet this is the funnest place ever!" Naturally, such a bold statement can only leads to disappointment.
- It Was with You All Along: After helping Cheese to recover his laugh, Pinkie realizes that making other ponies laugh is what makes her life fulfilling.
- The Last Title: The third episode with this format after "The Last Roundup" and "The Last Crusade".
- Latex Perfection: When Sans Smirk first appears, he is wearing a flawless Cheese Sandwich mask that easily fools Pinkie.
- Meaningful Name: Sans Smirk — or "without smile" — accurately describes his deadpan expression for the bulk of the episode.
- No Antagonist: The big problem of the episode is Cheese's lost enthusiasm, not an external threat. Viewers may initially assume that Sans Smirk is causing the problem, but no, he's just as concerned for Cheese and very dedicated to the gag-making cause - he's, at most, an Unwitting Instigator of Doom.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: In addition to already being a pony Expy of voice actor "Weird Al" Yankovic, Cheese Sandwich's appearance while working at the factory has drawn some comparisons to Apple Founder and former CEO Steve Jobs.
- Not So Stoic: For most of the episode, Sans Smirk comes off as The Stoic, never raising his tone (and openly admitting that he's "not a laugher"). When Cheese tells him a joke about laughing bird eggs hatching by "cracking up", he bursts out laughing.
- Pun: Pinkie tosses Cheese his accordion during his song, telling him "Shred it, Cheese!"
- Rule of Three: Described in-universe when Pinkie Pie examines a board of comedy principles.
- Sarcasm-Blind: When Applejack jokingly asks if Cheese's factory makes rubber chickens, Pinkie replies that they make much more than that.
- Pinkie receives a gold-colored item that allows her to visit a whimsical factory.
- During his He's Back song, Cheese briefly dresses as the title character of Pagliacci.
- Stealth Hi/Bye: At the beginning, the Mane Six sans Pinkie Pie wonder why she called an emergency meeting, and Spike ponders where she is. Only for the shot to widen and show Pinkie lying on the Cutie Map behind him. Tame by Pinkie's standards.
- Take That!: Given that Cheese Sandwich's appearance in this episode is based on the late Steve Jobs, it may not be an accident that Sans Smirk expresses the concern that without Cheese's leadership, his company would have little innovation and just keep pushing out retreads of his old ideas.
- That Makes Me Feel Angry: When Cheese suggests that Pinkie goes home, Pinkie gasps with horror, and Sans Smirk adds:Sans Smirk: [deadpan] I, too, am horrified.
- The Unsmile: The depressed Cheese's attempt to smile is... disturbing, to say the least.
- Visual Pun: Sans Smirk's cutie mark is that of a wet blanket, which is precisely how his approach to the factory seems to be ruining Cheese's fun and enjoyment.