Tech, Career Advice, Now + Beyond

Are robots coming to an open-mic near you?

Thanks to AI, stand-up comedy is now an art form that even bots can emulate

If you’ve ever allowed your smartphone’s keyboard to autocomplete a text, you’re familiar with predictive engines.  Using this same technology, AI is now finding its voice in comedy. Botnik, described on its website as a “community of writers, artists, and developers using machines to create things on and off the internet” allows creators to input bodies of text that create keyboards ready to autogenerate content in the same style. 

How does Botnik work?

This allows users to create endless content that often borders on the absurd. For example, the Botnik predictive engine was used to generate an entire Scrubs script. By uploading existing Scrubs scripts, Botnik is able to autogenerate lines from a Scrub script. Working with the keyboard, the writer can mix and match phrases to make their “own” episode. 

Try it yourself

On their site, you can use the Voicebox keyboard to generate your own content in voices ranging from “Beyonce” to “Statue Of Liberty Negative Yelp Reviews.”   You should definitely try it yourself. I just got seriously distracted by playing around with all the keyboards. For example, I used the voice “Buzzfeed quizzes” which helped create the following: “Tell us your favorite fictional bride and we’ll reveal whether or not you’re you.” I mean, come on Buzzfeed. That’s the content I’m waiting for.

Meet The Headlinertron

Comedian CJ Hernandez used the Botnik predictive engine to make The Headlinertron by feeding Botnik hours of stand-up comedy specials. Full disclosure: I’ve done standup once or twice because my ego is too big and I like to embarrass myself. I have a good sense of humor (see, the ego thing), and I want to make people laugh so I put myself out there and hope we can all laugh with/at me. I have yet to make it big, and I’m hoping there’s time for me to figure out how to write the perfect joke before bots like The Headlinertron swoop in and make my amazing sense of humor obsolete. 

While I don’t have the answers, I do have some of my favorite tweets created by The Headlinertron to share with you today. 

Tweets from The Headlinertron

I couldn’t agree more.

Again, I couldn’t agree more.

I’m so glad dad is out of the window. Oh, dad!

What would standup be without a bit about the ol’ ball and chain? 

A fascinating take on being a single girl in today’s age.

This is exactly how I would start a class presentation back in my college years.

Comedy Robot Takeover?

Okay, so I don’t know if the jokes are so good that comics need to worry.   It is fascinating, however, what predictive engines are capable of.  With this technology, we have the ability to capture a very specific voice.  This is super cool because we can then get “new episodes” of Seinfeld even though the show is long over. Humans working with tech to create content feels very futuristic. Could we be entering an age of tv and movie content based on predictive engines? By feeding various texts to the Botnik predictive engine and hand selecting phrases, writers may have a whole new method of generating ideas.

As someone who loves stand-up comedy and consumes a lot of it via Netflix and local comedy clubs, I can say this much: the key to genius comedy is using nuance to relate the human experience to an audience. While The Headlinertron is funny in its own absurd way, it lacks the one element that makes stand-up so enjoyable- humanity.