Robot Humor

Friday, April 18, 2014


We often think of robots as tools to make our lives easier. But what if they could also make our lives funnier? Brooke talks with Joel Warner, co-author of The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny, about joke-generating bots.


Joel Warner

Hosted by:

Brooke Gladstone

Comments [6]

Will Caxton

"... a joke computer received $700,000 ... How can you justify that? ... I think there’s a valid reason." He's wrong. Funding for the National Institutes of Health has been cut, and a lot of scientific research was brought to a halt or derailed entirely by the Sequester, but the US government is funding research into a joke-telling robot. "We spend so much time with your gizmos, we want the interactions to be as smooth and fluid as possible." Somehow, I fail to see how "smooth and fluid" translates into jokes. "... who wouldn't want a GPS device that ..." I, for one, would not. I don't even want machines talking to me. Maybe the goal is to get people so irritated they'll smash their gadgets to bits and be forced to buy replacements. Even if that were a desirable goal, why is the government funding it? If some manufacturer wants to make a joke-telling GPS, why can't they fund the research themselves?

May. 01 2014 09:25 PM
Will Caxton

elisha - The joke is in the transcript. Click on the thing that looks like five horizontal lines.

May. 01 2014 09:17 PM

please post the "big orange head" joke so I can share it on Facebook with all my comedy nerd friends.

Apr. 23 2014 12:07 AM

It might not be the funniest but I've got the most human........

"I like my formulaic pattern jokes like I likes my women lying there waiti" wife walked in and is don't think I'll finish that one...sry

Apr. 22 2014 03:29 PM
Lucy Cross

It's not that your superintelligent friends "don't get" the Big Orange Head joke, it's simply that it isn't funny. Maybe it's just changing tastes: Shakespeare's audiences laughed themselves silly at puns that we now consider stupid. It's not that we "don't get" them.

Apr. 22 2014 08:40 AM

In the mid-1960s, Elephant Jokes briefly became popular.
What did Tarzan say when he saw the elephants?
He said, "Here come the elephants."

Included in this genre were purple jokes. Example:
What's purple and goes "ding-ding"?
A purple ding-ding.

This would be followed by a second riddle:
What's blue and goes "ding-ding"?
A blue ding-ding?
No, they only come in purple.

If I understand it correctly, the Big Orange Head joke told by Brooke is (ostensibly) funny for the same reason.
The punchline is so obvious, that it's like an *anti*-punchline.

What did Tarzan say when he saw the zebras?

Apr. 20 2014 09:54 PM

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