Can robots do stand-up? Or, more specifically, can a robot make manzai (Japanese stand-up comedy) seem funnier? Dr. Jonas Sjöbergh, a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Knowledge Media Laboratory of Hokkaido University, Japan, has been working on the question since 2008. And, in association with colleague professor Kenji Araki, a paper was produced for LNAI 5447, ‘New Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence: JSAI2008 Conference and Workshops, Revised Selected Papers’ , entitled : ‘Robots Make Things Funnier’
“We evaluated the impact of different presentation methods for evaluating how funny jokes are. We found that the same joke was perceived as significantly funnier when told by a robot than when presented only using text. The average scores were 2.8 (robot) and 2.3 (text), which is a quite large difference on the scale from 1 to 5 used. This means that it can be difficult to compare the evaluations of different joke generating systems (or other sources of humor) evaluated at different times, since even the presentation method used has a very large impact on the results. There are likely many other factors that influence the evaluation results too, making it difficult to compare different systems.”
Since then, Dr. Sjöbergh has by no means let the project rest. He has recently implemented an enhanced robotic manzai element in which the bots can now also emulate the sounds of intestinal gas discharges. Or, as he puts it on his website : “Adding farting to the joking robots. A robot farting is probably also funny.” Decide for yourself by watching this video. [0.43]
Note : Dr. Sjöbergh is not only an Artificial Intelligence expert. As you can see in this video showing him hammering a four-inch nail into his right nostril – he’s also a magician.