Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better

by Rabuiods

First published

Laughing Stock and Twilight Sparkle switch jobs for a day.

Sometimes, a simple remark is all it takes to cause a rift in a happy relationship. The marriage of Laughing Stock and Twilight Sparkle is no exception. After a heated debate over whose job is easier, the two ponies find themselves walking in each others horseshoes. For one day, Laughing Stock must run the library without assistance from his wife, and Twilight Sparkle must deliver a standup comedy performance, composed of jokes she has written herself. Will the young couple gain a new respect for one another?

Probably not.

(This story is a continuation of my Laughing Stock series, What is Fame Without Friendship? and
Her Big Brother, His Big Problem. Special thanks to HoovesLikeJagger for another fantastic work of art, and wildberk for his editing/proofreading skills.)

Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better

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What a day!

Twilight Sparkle was exhausted. As a best selling author, she was always approached for photo ops, interviews, and book signings that usually lasted hours on end. But all this hard work had a bright side. At the end of a long day, nothing made the lavender unicorn happier than curling up with a good book, and a great husband named Laughing Stock. A stand-up comedian and famous in his own right, Laughing Stock loved his wife more than life itself.

After six months of marriage, the young couple's relationship was stronger than ever. Despite Twilight's responsibilities as Ponyville's, and Laughing Stock's weekly performances at the Sugarcube Corner, the two ponies managed to spend as much time together as possible.

Upon opening the door to her home, Twilight Sparkle was ambushed by her favorite stallion.

“Laughing Stock! What are you doing!?”

The comedian embraced his lover, gently kissing her. Feeling the tenseness in Twilight’s small, yet perfect frame, he could tell something was wrong.

“I’m guessing the book signing was rough?”

“You have no idea. Ponies were lined up around the block!” Twilight beamed. The idea of ponies lining up to see her was still taking some getting used to.

“Get used to it; you’re in the entertainment biz now.” he chuckled lightly.

Laughing at her husband’s horrible advice, the purple unicorn snuggled against her very special somepony. Looking into his eyes, she expressed how much she looked forward to evenings like this.

“I’m glad our jobs allow us to have so much free time together!”

Laughing Stock pulled his mare closer.“I feel the same way. Can you imagine what we would be doing right now if you had a hard job?”

Just as he leaned in to kiss the lavender unicorn, she pushed herself away. Twilight not only felt perplexed by her spouse’s words, but insulted as well.

“What do you mean, if I had a hard job?”

The comedian explained that he always saw Twilight date stamp books and wait for ponies to check out said books.

"You honestly think that's what I do all day?"

Sensing irritation in her voice, the comedian tried to back pedal his last statement."Did I say something wrong?”

“YES, YOU DID! You insulted me by saying my career is easy, how would you feel if I said stand-up comedy was simple?"

“Not only would I laugh, I would say you were a fool. Standup comedy is very difficult.”

“You work three days a week, and when you aren’t working, you sit in the basement and write jokes!”

The comedian did his best to correct his wife's mistake. He made sure she understood that jokes were a lot harder to write than a self help book.

"It’s not like I am writing a book about friendship. You see a new pony, talk to them, friendship acquired! It’s not that hard.”

As soon as he finished speaking, Laughing Stock realized he crossed the line. Twilight ran upstairs, tears streaming down her face. The guilty stallion ran after her, only be to stopped by a locked bedroom door.

“Twiley, I’m sorry! I didn’t mean it like that!”

Through the door, the distraught author asked to be enlightened on the positive aspect of his words. The comedian silently stood on the other side of the door.

“That’s what I thought!”

“I was insensitive and a jerk, but you have to admit, being a comedian is a lot harder than being a librarian.”

“I don’t have to admit anything! You have no idea the hard work that goes into keeping a library up and running!”

“Well, maybe you can show me sometime,” Laughing Stock said sarcastically.

The bedroom slowly opened and to Laughing Stock’s surprise, a smirking unicorn was revealed.

“How about you put your money where your mouth is?”

“I would, but my money is in the bedroom behind you.”

Ignoring his silly comment, a mischievous Twilight Sparkle proposed a challenge to her husband.
“How about for one day, you run the Ponyville library, and I’ll be a standup comic.”

“You can’t be serious…”

Twilight was determined to prove her husband was wrong. For one whole day, Laughing Stock was required to do all the regular maintenance and customer related duties of a librarian, while Twilight had to preform a show with jokes she wrote on her own.

"I'm going to show you that writing jokes is as easy as…”

“…working in a library?” Laughing Stock suggested.

Twilight laughed as she closed the door behind her. Laughing Stock tried to enter his bedroom bedroom, but the door was locked.

“Uh honey…you accidentally locked the door.”

“I didn’t do it on accident.”

Taking the hint, Laughing Stock retrieved a blanket from the hall closet and curled up on the couch downstairs.


“Rise and shine!”

Looking at a nearby clock, Ponyville's newest librarian protested his rude awakening.

“The library doesn’t open until ten! Why did you wake up at so early?”

“Laughing Stock…it’s 9:45.”

“I know! That’s fifteen minutes of sleep I could’ve had!” In an attempt to hide from the suns evil rays, he pulled the blanket over his head.

Shaking her head, the unicorn wheeled a cart filled with books into the room.

“Well, since you’re up, why don’t you start putting these back on the shelves?”

“Piece of cake!” The groggy stallion grabbed a hoof full of books, and began placing them in random spots.

“WHOA WHOA WHOA! What in Equestria do you think you’re doing?!”

“I’m putting them back!”

“In a library, books have to be placed in order by genre, author and title! You can’t just place them wherever you want.”

“Show me where it says I can’t!”

On the opposite side of the room, Twilight grabbed a book and brought it back to her husband. Snatching the book from his wife, Laughing Stock opened it to page one and started to read.

“How to manage your library: Step one…”

Twilight smirked as the clueless comedian studied the passage.

“What does it say?”

The stallion was suddenly interested in a spot on the carpet.

“Don’t look away from me! What did the book say?”

“It said to place books in order by genre and author.”

“…what else?”

“…and title.”

Feeling victorious, the lavender unicorn went down to the basement.

Stupid book! Making me organize this stuff by title…it’s not like anypony reads anyway.

At that moment, a pony in a trench coat, sunglasses and a fedora walked in.

“Hello, welcome to the Ponyville library! If we don’t have it, it’s not worth reading! Are you looking for something specific?”

“Is Twilight here?”

“No, she…” Laughing Stock tried to think of an excuse for the real librarian’s absence.

“She’s getting liposuction, she’ll be back tomorrow.”

“Oh…well she usually helps me pick out reading material.”

The stallion offered to help the mysterious pony with their selection, but the stranger had reservations.

“My needs are specific…I would prefer to have a mare’s help.”

“Trust me, I am more than qualified to assist you in your quest for novelized entertainment.”

Looking the substitute librarian over, the stranger decided to use his help.

“Well, I’m looking for an erotic novel.”

Shifting through the extensive card catalog, Laughing Stock had some good news. “Lucky for you, we have all kinds to choose from! Exotic birds, exotic food, exotic places...”

“No, I said EROTIC, not EXOTIC!”

“Oh, my mistake.” Returning to the catalog, he began to shift trough the names of various erotic novels.

“Ok…we have Lady Hoofington’s Lover…50 Shades of Mane…Lust Filled Love…”

“Wait! What was that last one?”

“Lust Filled Love.”

The mysterious pony wanted to hear the synopsis or the story, which made the stallion instantly uncomfortable. “You can’t be serious…”

The blank stare he was receiving told him she was being serious.

“Alright…Summer Shine loved her husband, but once the empty house next door became occupied by a young, strapping, and handsome stallion, she began to wonder “what if”. Risking her career and her marriage, Summer can’t resist succumbing to her temptations…”

The humiliated pony couldn’t finish the summary. “I can’t do this…basically; she sleeps with the neighbor next door and probably deals with some sort of moral dilemma, and debates leaving her husband or something.”

“This book sounds absolutely lovely. I’ll take it!”

Just as Laughing Stock gave the book to the stranger, the Cutie Mark Crusaders burst through the door.

“Hiya Laughing Stock, where’s Twilight? We need some books so we can get some new cutie mark ideas!”

“She’s not here today, Sweetie Belle, but I am more than willing to help you girls find your marks!”

The pony in the coat pulled her collar up even further once the CMC entered, which made the stallion suspicious. He soon figured out why she was trying so hard to conceal her identity. As she quickly moved to the door, the crusaders began discussing possible activities.

“What about ah’ cutie mark in shot put Scootaloo?”

“I don’t know what shot put is Applebloom…”

“Ah’ come on now! All ya do is pick up a metal ball an throw it like this!”

Applebloom hurled the instructional book across the room. During the trip, the flying guide knocked the hat off the pony, revealing the strangers mane.

“Miss Cheerilee, is that you?”

Taking off her sunglasses, the teacher nervously responded to her students.

“Why hello girls! I was…just leaving.” She looked down to see Sweetie Belle in front of her, reading the summary of the book in her hooves.”

“Miss Cheerilee, what’s “uncontrollable lust” mean?”

“So Twilight, how are the jokes coming?”

Taking a break for lunch, the two ponies decided to discuss their progress on each other’s jobs.

“It’s going great! Want a sneak peek?”

“I’d love to hear it!”

“What do you get when you cross a lumbricus terrestris and a novel?”

The stumped stallion didn’t have a clue.

“You get a bookworm!”

Laughing Stock stared at his wife, unsure how to deliver the criticism she deserved. Seeing the look on his face, Twilight tried explaining the joke.

“See, lumbricus terrestris is the scientific name for a generic earthworm! Get it?”

Taking her husband’s silence as a no, she crumpled up the scroll and threw it over her shoulder. “How’s the library doing? Check out any books yet?”

Explaining the awkward scenario with Cheerilee and the CMC, the unicorn couldn’t help but laugh.

“I should have warned you that Cheerilee comes by every Friday for a new erotic novel. I’m surprised she took that one though, it’s relatively tame compared to the stuff we usually read.”

“Whatever. As long as I don’t have to…what do you mean, “We read”?”

“You know what, I just realized I need to talk to the Cakes out my performance tonight.” Twilight kissed her special somepony goodbye, leaving him to wonder if there was a strapping, young flank he needed to kick. Upon his return to the library, he found Berry Punch waiting on the front stoop.

“Hi Berry! Welcome to the Ponyville library! Home of the most expensive fire starting material in town.”

Laughing Stock opened the door and showed the purple mare inside. “Can I help you find something?”

“Sure, I’m having a *hic* dinner party tonight, and I was wondering if you had any *hic* cookbooks available?”

“Follow me.”

Leading Berry Punch to the cookbook section, he noticed she was staggering behind him. “You’re not drunk are you Berry?”

“Me? Drunk? No…”

Taking her word for it, he searched the shelves for a book that would serve her needs. With book in hoof, he turned to give it to the customer.

“Berry…is that a flask?”


“I’m sorry, but I can’t have you drinking in here?”

“Ponies like you make me *hic* sick, you know that!?”

“Actually, I’m pretty sure it’s the booze that’s doing it.”

Forcefully placing the flask on the front desk, she walked up Laughing Stock and stuck her hoof in his face.

“Why can’t you just let me *hic* drink and be happy? Ponies like you always have to *hic* intervene and try to make me change my way of life!”

“Actually, I could care less about you do with your life. You aren’t allowed to drink ANYTHING in the library.”

“Oh…I *hic* see.”

Once the comedian finished the check out process, he handed the book to the intoxicated mare. “Aright Berry, this is due next Friday.” As she took the book from his hoof, Laughing Stock asked her to be careful with her drinking.

“Don’t worry, I *hic* got it under control!”

When she attempted to pick up the flask she placed on the desk earlier, the clumsy mare knocked it over. Both ponies watched the red liquid slowly flow across the desk, right into the bin of books the comedian neglected to place on the shelves.

“No use crying over *hic* spilled wine!” Berry Punch proceeded to climb onto the desk, lapping up the wine as if it were cream in a saucer.

“Alright honey, I got a joke that will knock ‘em dead!”

“Ok Twilight, let’s hear it.”

“How many unicorns does it take to screw in a light bulb?”

“I don’t know…”

“Only one! They don’t need help because they have magic!”

Laughing Stock dropped his face onto the desk in front of him. Once again, Twilight crumpled up the scroll with the joke, tossed it over her shoulder and retreated to the basement. The stallion picked up his head, catching a glance at the clock on the nearby wall.

Only half an hour left, and then I’m home free!

“Twilight, I’m here!”

The stallion immediately recognized the voice.

“Come on in Rarity!”

“Oh, hello Laughing Stock, is Twilight in?”

“It depends. Are you here for anything library related?”

Rarity replied she was, so the comedian informed her of the challenge Twilight came up with.

“Oh, you two are simply adorable!” The stylish unicorn looked cautious around the room, making sure they were alone. “I am here to take advantage of the libraries music collection.”

“Sure thing! What did you want to listen to?”

She asked if he could keep a secret.

“Probably, what is it.”

“Well…” Blushing heavily, the white mare revealed a secret very few ponies knew. “I am a huge fan of rap music.”

Staring at his friend, Laughing Stock couldn’t help chuckling. He never would have guessed she liked rap. “Really now, what brought this on?”

“Well, when I was young, my parents absolutely despised rap. They forbade me to listen to it, but I felt rebellious and listened anyway. As I got older and moved away from my parents, I learned that all my high class customers felt the same way. When I am taking measurements and the subject comes up, they repeatedly state they would never do business with a rapper. I get a rush, listening to it because I’m not supposed to.”

“Wow Rarity, I’m impressed. I never you were such a rebel.” He led the unicorn to the record player in the back of the room, and provided her with various records. The stallion was about to hand Rarity a pair of head phones, but she pulled her own pair from her saddlebags.

“Please darling, I came prepared.”

The comedian shrugged as he left his friend to her guilty pleasure. As he continued with the menial task of shelving wine stained books, he heard something he never thought he’d hear in a million years.

“As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,I take a look at my life and realize there's nothin' left. Cause I've been blasting and laughing so long, that even my mama thinks that my mind is gone…”

Laughing Stock stuck his head into the room. There, with her back towards him, stood Ponyville’s most posh mare. She bounced around, bobbing her head up and down while she rapped along with the song.

Oh Celestia, this is hilarious! I don’t think I could ever get tired of this!

Ten minutes later, the stallion was tired of Rarity’s performance. She had been singing the same song over and over, which really started to take a toll on his psyche. Entering the room, he asked the unicorn if she could tone it down, just a little.

“Sorry Laughing Stock, but I am afraid I can’t do that. My taxes help keep this place going, so I am welcome to do whatever I please.” Rarity pushed her friend out of the room, closing the door behind her this time.

Thinking this situation couldn’t get worse; he heard the library door open once again.

“Hey Twilight, I got a question for you!”

Laughing Stock dove behind the desk, trying his best to remain out of sight. After a moment, he decided to see if the pony was still here. Carefully peeking over the top, she saw nopony else in the library. Sliding back down to the floor, he turned to the wall behind him.

“Are you hiding from me or something?”

“No Dash, I wouldn’t hide from you!”

The comedian secretly was hiding from Rainbow Dash. He loved being friends with her, but he knew exactly why she was here, and he wasn’t looking forward to it.

“I’m here for the new Daring Do book! I’ve waiting forever!”

“There’s a bit of a problem Dash…”

“Oh really, what’s that?”

“I kinda…checked out the last one earlier today.”

Dash suddenly grew quiet, her left eye began twitching erratically. “You…did…what?”

“I totally forgot Twilight set one aside for you! As soon as I get one in, I will hoof deliver it to you, I promise.”

Taking a deep breath, Rainbow Dash told the stallion it was fine. “Mistakes happen, don’t sweat it.” She asked if she could hang out with him until the library closed. “I took the rest of the day off so I could read the book, but since I can’t read it, I have nothing better to do.”

“Sure, make yourself at home!”

The pegasus pulled up a chair right next to Laughing Stock and watched him organize the card catalog.

“So Laughing Stock…did somepony turn in a copy of the book yet?”

The comedian chuckled. He knew what Rainbow Dash was trying to do, but it wasn’t going to work. He simply continued with his organization, choosing to ignore her.

“Hey, I’m talking to you! Did somepony return a copy of the new Daring Do book yet?”

Dash wasn’t go be ignored that easy. She continued to ask the question over and over, hoping to get a rise out of the stallion. Meanwhile, Laughing Stock was doing his best to stay sane.

Don't let her break you…you can take her…

The comedian was holding steady, but was confident that he wouldn’t show weakness. As long as nothing else happened, he knew victory was eminent.

“Been spending most their lives, living in the gangsta's paradise, been spending most their lives, living in the gangsta's paradise. Keep spending most our lives, living in the gangsta's paradise, keep spending most our lives, living in the
gangsta's paradise.”

“It was horrible! Rarity was rapping and Rainbow Dash was…well being Rainbow Dash.”

Twilight smiled as she finished getting ready for her stand up debut.

“So you’ll admit that there is a lot more to being a librarian than date stamping books.”

“Of course, I can’t understand how you deal with it all!”

“It takes some getting used to, but I believe that this is the best job in the world!” Stepping away from the vanity mirror, she was ready for her moment in the spotlight. “Kiss for luck?”

Laughing Stock wished his wife the best of luck as he gave her a smooch.

“You’re going to do…pretty well!”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence sweetheart.”

The stallion left the backstage area, choosing a seat in the back of the bakery. He was more interested in the audience’s reaction than in the actual show.

I hope they go easy on her…

“Fillies and Gentlecolts, please welcome Twilight Sparkle!”

The room politely clapped as the perky lavender unicorn walked to the center of the stage. As she took the microphone off the stand, it slipped and tumbled to the floor. Feedback reverberated through the room, causing everypony to cover their ears.

“Sorry about that folks!” Twilight picked up the mic, hoping to move past the rough start. “Let’s get this show started!”

Laughing Stock could already hear the crowed make fun of her. He already sensed wasn’t going to go over well.

“Last week, I was organizing the spice rack in my kitchen and I noticed that the container with thyme was almost empty. I told my husband we were almost out of thyme, and he said “almost out of time for what?!”

Somepony in the audience coughed, a cricket could be heard outside.

“As many of you may know, Princess Celestia mentors me. When I was younger, I asked her what her favorite day of the week was…and she said it was SUNDAY!”

The audience began to feel restless while the show continued. Laughing Stock felt horrible about his struggling wife, but wasn’t sure what to do about it.

“Then I asked her what her favorite dessert was…apparently, she loves sundaes!”

“Hey” a stallion in front of Laughing Stock turned to his friend. “What did the comedian say at the end of the show?”

“I don’t know… what?”

“I have no idea, because I didn’t stay to find out.”

The two stallions got up and left, many other ponies followed suit.

“Wait! Don’t leave, I didn’t get through half my jokes!”

Twilight placed the microphone back on the stand and prepared to walk off stage.

“Writing jokes isn’t so easy, is it?”

She turned around to see her husband walking towards the stage. She confessed that it was a lot harder than she imagined.

“You seem do it so effortlessly, I just thought-“

“It was as easy as running a library?”

“See, that’s what I’m talking about! You came up with that instantly!”

The stallion smiled and took a seat in the front row. “Now, unless I was mistaken, I believe you had some more jokes to tell.”

“Hey Laughing Stock, can you come here?”

Laughing Stock jumped off the couch and trotted to his wife’s side.

“Need something honey?”

“I just finished writing to Princess Celestia about the lesson I learned yesterday. Is there something you would like to add?”

The comedian really didn’t want to, but figured it would be a lot easier than arguing about. He accepted the scroll from Twilight and took a seat.

“Give it to Spike when you are done," Twilight said as she left the room.

He stared at the blank space for a moment, unsure of what to write. Suddenly, Laughing Stock realized he did learn something from this experience, so he picked up the quill and began to write.

Dear Princess Celestia,

I have learned an important lesson about marriage! If the door to your bedroom locks, be sure to have an extra key made, and hide it outside the room. That way, if your angry spouse locks you out, you can easily enter.
From the stallion who is finally out of the dog house,
Laughing Stock