Hack(Comedy) is a computational comedy web application that allows visitors to write with virtual comedians who generate materials from borrowed comic sources.
Hack(Comedy) aims to interrogate our perception of humor through a live procedural generation that copies and reflects condensed themes and identities in the American comedy landscape. With text input such as words and phrases, virtual comedian modules use word references from scraped comedy transcripts to complete writing sentences.
Visitors can interact with virtual comedians in various ways. You can write with one comedian at a time, give the same prompt to multiple comedians and watch them generate simultaneously, or assign a fixed length of words you want all selected comedians to rant on their own.
The artist, whose native language isn't English and who has struggled to become culturally competent, wants to use this unexpected way of programming to reach the American humor pedestal. The process, however, reinforces the failure of the artist's ideal pursuit of cultural competency and the comic absurdity of the pursuit itself.
Try it out at www.hackcomedy.net.
Part of the Hack(Comedy) application was developed into a tool to carry out a computational comedy performance at LaMama Experimental Theater during CultureHub's Re-Fest in March 2020. Selected themes of "mad-lib" style text were fed into the application, and human actors were choreographed to deliver the generated output verbally. There were complexities embedded throughout the performance, such as the juxtapositions among different comedians' generated outputs, the disjunction between the virtual identities and the human actors, and the unexpected absurdity of computationally crafted materials from borrowed comic sources.