• Pony Spotlight #13 - Cranky Doodle Donkey (with Richard Newman Interview!)

    Howdy, folks. TheSlorg here with this week's Pony Spotlight.

    Only, our featured character isn't really a pony this time. He does have four legs, four hooves, and a tail, though. Close enough! It's Cranky Doodle Donkey's time to be in the spotlight!

    Additionally Cranky's voice actor, the legendary Richard Newman, was kind enough to agree to a short interview for this week's Spotlight. What does he have to say about voicing for My Little Pony? Find out below the break, along with more info on Cranky!

    Name: Cranky Doodle Donkey
    Aliases: None
    Cutie Mark: None
    Appearances: 6 episodes, Friendship Games, and an EQG short
    First Appearance: A Friend in Deed
    Speaking Roles: 2
    Random Fact: Cranky can be seen wearing his original black toupee multiple times after having it destroyed in A Friend in Deed.


    Cranky Doodle had a glorious beginning, for he got to appear immediately following the long-awaited Smile song that had leaked early and, months later, finally appeared in the season two episode, A Friend in Deed. The song had a lot of fans smiling. The ponies were smiling. Everyone and everything was smiling!

    Except for Cranky. Cranky didn't do smiling.

    Yes, Cranky's first appearance was actually a starring role, and it immediately led to a lot of character development. Cranky was, at first, just a grumpy old donkey who was new to Ponyville. If his name wasn't any indication, then the fact that he didn't smile after Pinkie's Smile song most certainly was. He wasn't interested in smiling, or friendship, or anything else Pinkie had to offer. He just wanted to be left alone.

    We all know someone like this. What's important is that there was a good reason for Cranky's mood. As we later found out, he had spent most of his years traveling Equestria in search of his long lost love, Matilda. It was likely a very long, lonely, and disappointing journey. If we really stop a moment and think of just how long Cranky was on the road, we can begin to realize that all those years of solitude would weigh heavy on anyone, and Cranky was no exception.

    And yet, Cranky was dedicated and filled with determination. Years of failure may have weighed him down, but he was never out.

    I can totally see this being a real backstory


    As we learned from A Friend in Deed, Cranky was far from one-dimensional. His crankiness was from a lifetime of searching for that one thing that would make him as happy as can be, but never quite reaching it. Many who watch My Little Pony can probably relate to him in one way or another. Perhaps art it what some of you truly wish to do, but you work a general 9 - 5 job because "art won't pay the bills". Perhaps something else has evaded you. Whatever it may be, we can relate to Cranky's bitterness from time to time.

    Cranky appears again in Dragon Quest, ferrying Spike across a river. He sure does get around!

    In the season three finale, Magical Mystery Cure, a felt Cranky can be seen very briefly in Pinkie's eyes as she is 'cured' and has her cutie mark restored. Be prepared to go frame-by-frame to find him.

    In season four, he can be briefly seen in the crowd for the Turkey Call contest in Filli Vanilli, and again in the crowd that welcomes Twilight Sparkle in Trade Ya, this time wearing his old black toupee.

    Despite the resemblance, I can not see this being a real backstory

    Current Status

    Of course, Cranky's biggest moment was in season five's special 100th episode, Slice of Life, where he finally married the mule of his dreams, Matilda. It didn't come easily, however, as a bugbear decided to attack, a certain grey pegasus got the invitations wrong, and all manner of crazy hi jinx ensued.

    Unfortunately for Cranky, perhaps we can add 'cheap' to his list of personality quirks. First, he wanted to elope with Matilda rather than deal with a pricey wedding. Also, it was his decision to use somepony who charged half what anypony else would charge that led to the invitation mix-up. Lastly, he tells a jeweler that he needs his rings today, no matter the cost... as long as it doesn't cost any extra. Dedicated... but cheap!

    He also doesn't handle the spotlight very well. He is embarrassed and uncomfortable in front of all the wedding guests, despite the fact that he was friends with them all in one way or another.

    Cranky Donkey! A donkey whose dedication and determination helped him overcome years of solitude to finally be reunited with the one he loved. What are your favorite Cranky moments? Which pony might you like to see in a future Spotlight? Let me know in the comments below!

    Some Cranky Fanfics
    All of It, for Her
    Something Magical
    Memories, Memories
    Cranky Doodle Donkey's Bad Asssssss Day
    For Cranky

    Bonus Interview!

    Legendary voice actor Richard Newman was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions regarding his role on My Little Pony, as well as some of the other voices and roles he's done over the years. With a career that spans nearly half a century, there's a lot to talk about, so let's get to it!

    TheSlorg: My Little Pony fans know you as Cranky Doodle Donkey, but he's just one of many characters you have voiced in a career that spans decades. Can you give us a brief rundown of some of the voices you have done over the years?

    Richard Newman: I've been acting for nearly half a century on stage and on-camera, and for the last 25 years or so in the recording studio. I love the diversity that is possible in the studio. I can play big guys (Rhinox - Transformers: Beast Wars, Golem - Monster Rancher), little guys (Oolong - Dragon Ball Z, Totosai - InuYasha), good guys (Mr. Turtle - Franklin, Vector Prime - Transformers: Cybertron), bad guys (Phaeton - Exosquad, M. Bison - Street Fighter: The Animated Series), and people of all nationalities. In the case of a show like Silverwing, I got to play three characters in the same series: Brutus, Throbb, and Zephyr. I'm not sure which series or characters in particular that anyone might be interested in, but I'm sure there's an exhaustive (and exhausting!) list on IMDB or Wikipedia if anyone really wants to see them all!

    TheSlorg: Were you aware of My Little Pony's appeal to fans of all ages and sexes before you signed on? What was your initial reaction to the brony fandom?

    Richard Newman: I was aware of bronies before I played Cranky, as my daughter was still in high school at the time and she reported on the obsession that several of her male friends had gotten into. I admit I wasn't prepared for their change in attitude towards me when I became a part of the crew. I must say how surprised and pleased I've been to see how folks have taken to this character who has appeared in only a few episodes! He even has a toy!

    TheSlorg: Cranky's wedding to Matilda Mule was one of the focal points of the special 100th episode of My Little Pony. How does it feel to be one of the centerpieces of such a milestone episode?

    Richard Newman: It was quite an honor to appear as the central plot line of the 100th episode. An unexpected and delightful experience!

    TheSlorg: Do you have any interesting facts or funny stories you can share about voicing Cranky that fans might be unaware of?

    Richard Newman: Well, here's the thing. I've only been in three sessions and they were quite fun, but I can't really think of any anecdotal occurrences. All the Vancouver voice actors know each other, of course, and it's always energizing to walk into a studio filled with people you like and enjoy working with. But as my initial audition was not in a professional studio, and I had no director, it was really up to my best guess as to what they might want for the character. So I recorded onto my phone! I was pretty thrilled when I got the gig!

    TheSlorg: What would you like to say to your fans?

    Richard Newman: To the fans I would like to say thank you for the attention and affection. As the song goes: "If there ain't no audience, there ain't no show." You guys are the best!

    TheSlorg: Finally, are there any projects you are working on right now that you'd like fans to know about?

    Richard Newman: Well, I'm part of an online Lord of the Rings video game, and every few months I'm called in to do my best Gandalf and tell players what to do next. Bob the Builder continues... I play Two Ton and yet I only weight 150lbs! I also had a very fun scene in the 3rd episode of the X Files reboot that ran in January and February, and I have three theatre projects in the planning stages that will take place in 2017. And, of course, the stuff that pops up that I'm not expecting. It's a heckuva life - sometimes too busy, sometimes not busy enough, but I feel lucky to have been able to spend the last 50 years doing what I love to do!

    TheSlorg: Thank you so much for your time. We all really appreciate it!

    Follow Richard Newman today!

    Bonus Videos!

    Warning! Language and Hitler.

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