Fanfiction – A Black Comedy

Trigger Warning: This Harry Potter fic contains a infrequent appearances of a house elf who talks like the old stereotypes of slavery-era black women and the setup for a joke in chapter 30 makes it clear that the resemblance is intentional.

After mentioning it as a point of comparison last week, I realized that I’d never actually reviewed this, so, here you go.

I mentioned last week that A Black Comedy by nonjon was “the pinnacle of this genre” for me, with “the genre” referring to stories where Harry gets pulled into an alternate universe… so why was that?

The story is a mix of character comedy and adventure, which adds a more serious plot in the third act. While mostly a story about two frat-boy jokesters laughing their way through a new lease on life, it also does a beautiful job of underpinning it with well-considered elements and creatively novel details and twists. Perhaps most importantly, it’s complete too!

However, to be fair, I should acknowledge the apples-to-oranges nature of comparing across genres. I consider this the best of its type because I can’t think of anything less comedy-oriented which I hold in equivalent regard.

Anyway, let’s get started. The story begins post-canon with a Harry Potter who is now working in the Department of Mysteries, studying the Veil. Frustrated at his progress having stalled and working through lunch, he winds up getting pulled in after the safety measure for his newest test fails. As a perfect setup for the tone of the story, the prologue ends with his underwhelming last words in his home universe: “You can keep my sandwich.”

Upon arriving in the new universe (and getting the jump on the Unspeakables who want to interrogate him), he then proceeds to go out into the world and meet up with Sirius, who, it turns out, was stuck in the Veil until Harry accidentally uncorked it several months earlier.

What follows is the story of “The Lords Black” taking a laid-back attitude toward their new lease on life as they confuse the good guys and mock the establishment and the bad guys. What makes this work so well is that, despite its somewhat unfocused, slice-of-life nature in the first two acts, it lacks a certain sloppiness to the writing that seems to characterize so many stories. While the story doesn’t take itself all that seriously, there’s a strong sense that nonjon took the task of writing it very seriously.

For example, it makes sense that, if Voldemort spent two decades completely stalemated by a mysterious figure, he might come to refer to him as “that fucker”. Likewise, it makes sense that, if he did so, his followers might get a little confused about which particular fucker he’s ranting about after losing a duel with the Lords Black.

Unfortunately, I can’t give too many plot details, since the story has several plot twists and character reveals that I don’t want to spoil, but I will say that it includes some very entertaining bits, such as:

  • Meeting with Dumbledore and the Potters and engaging in some entertaining banter and bullshitting.
  • Deciding to strike up a career robbing Death Eaters and coming up with their own appropriately immature alternative to the Dark Mark to leave behind.
  • Accidentally making the local Hermione Granger rediscover the appeal of a boring life after they meet her, drunk in a bar… because of a surprise trip to Egypt which ends in blunt-fruit trauma.

As for one-off jokes, one example would be when Harry and Sirius go to get new owls and Sirius winds up with an owl named Smokey which nobody else bought due to a flatulence problem, while Harry decided to name his owl by firing off random names until he gets a positive response… say hello to “Kid Killer McGee”.

Finally, the last act has some interesting serious character exploration which I don’t want to spoil.

All in all, it’s hard to give an accurate summation, specifically because it’s the way everything fits together that makes it stand out from the crowd, and because the feel varies, depending on which subplot or set of characters are being focused on.

What I can say is that, if you’re looking for a fun Harry Potter fic about two humorously immature guys and you don’t mind one racially insensitive joke within two novels worth of text, you owe it to yourself to at least try this. I’ve re-read it at least three times and I’d definitely give it a 5.0 out of 5 rating.

CC BY-SA 4.0 Fanfiction – A Black Comedy by Stephan Sokolow is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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