A Computer Created A Pretty Good Ashton Kutcher Burn Today

Friday, February 28, 2014 - 02:54 PM

Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman in Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman in "No Strings Attached" (Paramount Pictures)

There's a specific genre of formulaic joke that you see a lot of on the internet. The way this joke works is that you take two topical but unrelated news stories and jam them together. 

It's easier to show than explain, so here's one from Andy Borowitz, who does this sort of joke a fair amount: "KIM JONG-UN: BIEBER JUST A FEW ARRESTS FROM BEING MY FRIEND" 

A lot of people despise this joke form -- let's call it Two Headlines -- because at their worst these jokes vaguely indicate towards cleverness without really containing any truth, premise, or point of view. The worst ones wring laughter out of an audience that mostly just seems pleased to have identified the references. 

One person who seems to think that these jokes are very formulaic is Darius Kazemi. Kazemi builds Twitter bots, and awhile ago he built one called @TwoHeadlines that autogenerates these jokes. I'm not sure how much Kazemi intends Two Headlines as a critique of this sort of humor, versus how much he's just having fun building something.

But if you follow @TwoHeadlines, a weird side effect is that you being to realize that even the most formulaic jokes still require human intelligence to fill them in.

Here's a few @TwoHeadlines tweets as proof: 

The last one is kind of a funny visual (A nation attacking an American men's suit store), but otherwise there's not much there in any of the jokes. That said, I came here not to bury @TwoHeadlines but to praise it. This morning, @TwoHeadlines made a joke that I think is completely recognizable as a joke.

So here's the logic of this joke, or at least the logic my brain imputes on it. Mila Kunis is actually engaged to Ashton Kutcher, not a cryptocurrency. Kutcher is an actor and a tech geek, and many people consider him to be overexposed and overvalued. Bitcoin is a tech phenomenon that likewise, many people consider overexposed and overvalued.

So there's a pleasing logic to swapping the two, and there's an added level of enjoyment from the idea that, if this Twitter bot could know that it was making jokes, this might be the kind of joke it would in fact make. Twitter bots probably get tired of hearing about Bitcoin all the time. 

So, there you have it. A computer made a serviceable joke. Whether that makes you feel exhausted about Two Headlines jokes, or excited about the promise of the @TwoHeadlines bot, is up to you. 

(PS. I saw that Mila Kunis tweet in Rusty Foster's Today in Tabs, a very good newsletter that everyone at TLDR likes a lot.

Tags:

More in:

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Supported by

 

Embed the TLDR podcast player

TLDR is a short podcast and blog about the internet by PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman. You can subscribe to our podcast here. You can follow our blog here. We’re also on Twitter, and we play Team Fortress 2 more or less constantly, so find us there if you like to communicate via computer games from six years ago.

Subscribe to Podcast iTunes RSS

Feeds