Tuesday, May 01, 2018

The next great comedy writer

iPhones try so hard to be intuitive.

There of course is Auto-Correct, which is very hit and miss. We’ve all sent texts we regret due to not proofing this handy feature. (Make sure you spell "can't" correctly.) 

But there is also this toolbar right above the keyboard that tries to anticipate your next word. When it’s right it’s very helpful. You just tap it once instead of having to type out the whole word. But it’s also wildly off base much of the time. And that’s certainly to be expected. Your iPhone can’t read your mind (yet).

When I type out texts or emails I find myself now always scanning this toolbar, trying to surmise where the phone thinks I might be going with this sentence. And what it thinks of me that I might go down some of these wacky paths.

But then I had an idea. An experiment. What if this feature happens to have a sense of humor? What if it doesn’t just “think;” it thinks funny? I know that Siri is programmed to say some smartass remarks.
So what if I wrote a script on the iPhone? I could just write in the set up and maybe it would provide the punchline. Wouldn’t that be nice when you’re stuck for a joke?

If this works, keep it to yourself. You don’t want EVERY comedy writer to know the wonder of Siri. But in this new modern techno-world, the next great Neil Simon could be in your pocket. Try it, and let me know how it goes. Good luck!

20 comments :

Rick Hannon said...

"To get to the other side" - THAT'S funny, Siri? Really? You suck.

Sean Robbins said...

"He was so stupid that he once was in a game of thrones that was my favorite part."

Yeah, maybe you don't want a full script of predictive text. :)

Dan said...

He's so stupid that he once I get the reference number for the guy who was the guy who was the guy who was the guy who was the guy who was the guy...

benson said...

Maybe I'm a dinosaur, but the first thing I do when I get a new phone is turn off auto correct. Can't stand it. I'll use the spell check function, where it underlines possible misspellings, but that's about it.

Covarr said...

There's a group of people who have already been using an algorithm based on a phone's predictive text to write scripts. They trained it on the entirety of SCRUBS and let it poop out its own episode. It's kinda junk, but it's also kinda brilliant.

Zach Braff liked it enough that he did a reading on Twitter of the final J.D. monologue from the bot's episode.

Steve Bailey said...

I ask Siri for jokes all the time, and she gives me the corniest jokes around. I think I should do a comedy act with her, the way Albert Brooks turned his Speak-and-Spell into a ventriloquism routine.

Annie C said...

There have been a lot of these posts on Facebook. They ask you to type the first few words of a sentence and click what auto-finish inserts then post it. Some have been mildly amusing.

katenhor said...

Not very funny but an interesting experiment. This is what I got:

He's so stupid that he once said that it would take him a while and then we can pick them up at least once in the same place as we can get them out of our house.

VP81955 said...

I have a 3G Android (since I currently can't afford anything else and have never really been a fan of Apple in anything), but writing a script on a smartphone? Can't see it, even if I had the most up-to-date model around with all the bells and whistles.

Perfectly happy screenwriting on my Chromebook, though it's incompatible with Final Draft, but that's OK. The latest version of WriterDuet (whose basic version is free, BTW) works fine for me, and no one can tell the difference. (Incidentally, my latest script is a finalist at the Die Laughing Film Festival later this month. Keep your fingers crossed.)

E. Yarber said...

I don't think you have to worry about keeping the idea secret. The notion of an automatic writer, allowing the business to dispense with human ones, has been the barely-concealed dream of two-thirds of the executives I've worked for, along with the concept of discovering a single story formula that would produce high grosses every time and make it unnecessary to ever consider a new idea again.

Howard Hoffman said...

Every once in a while, I type a first word and let predictive text finish out the sentence. This is in lieu of my having a productive life. Here goes.

Since the app and I have the paperwork and the kids are still in the front of parking and they are not paying for it all over again I don’t have the money for that.

-30-

blogward said...

Has there yet been a Rod Serling-type TV/movie story about someone who's demoniacally "possessed" by Siri? Mind you, to look at some people these days, that's science fact, not science fiction.

estiv said...

Your mama's so fat that you have to go home to get your lunch and then go to get your kids.

Needs work.

Phil D said...

There was a Guardian article about programming a computer to write a Harry Potter story. It went to cannibalism pretty fast.
"He saw Harry and immediately began to eat Hermione's family."

Mike Bloodworth said...

He's so stupid that he once... again Without hope and faith in the old fashioned way beyond coincidence When you zoom beyond a certain special relationship. (4G LG Android phone.) This is me typing, now. I remember back in the old days when computers had "floppy discs" I had a program called "Eliza." It was an algorithm that simulated a psychologist. It was a very early attempt at arificial intelligence. You would type in, for example, "I feel sad today." Then "Eliza" would respond, "Why do you feel sad today?" It would go on like that for as long as kept writing. Much like human conversations "Eliza" would occasionally repeat back to you things you said to make it seem as if it was paying attention. Or it would say, "How do you feel about that?" And similar questions to get you to keep interacting. But, the most fun part was when you would type in gibberish or non-sequiturs. "Eliza" didn't know the difference. Sometimes it could get pretty silly. "How do you feel about hairy snot elephant?" It was like a bizarre form of Madlibs. I understand that there are variations and emulators out there that can simulate "Eliza," but from what I've read they're not as good as the original. But don't worry. Someday Big Brother, the Anti-Christ, or whichever authoritarian figure you prefer will plug us ALL into THE MATRIX and this will all be moot.
M.B.

Thomas Mossman said...

I got "He's so stupid that he once said that I don't think I understand what it is supposed to do."

Not really funny, but at least it makes some sense.

J Lee said...

As a test two years ago, I asked Siri and Alexa what is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.

Alexa knew to ask "African or European?" while Siri didn't get the question.

Based on that, I think you're working with the wrong brand of artificial intelligence to come up with a comedy routine.

E. Yarber said...

Good luck, VP8.

TimWarp said...

He's so stupid that I have to go into work for a few hours. Not funny but completely sensical. And @Mike Bloodworth, I remember Eliza!

Kaleberg said...

Back in the mid-1970s I worked in a lab that got an early speech recognition unit. It cost about $80K back in 1970s dollars and it was cutting edge. It had an alphanumeric display. You could train it to recognize a word or phrase and it would display whatever text you chose. Obviously, you were supposed to set it up to display the word or phrase recognized, but we all recognized a straight man when we found one. We set it up so you'd say "knock knock" and it would say "who's there?" or you'd say "my hotel room was so small" and it would say "how small was it johnny?" It was an amazing piece of technology.