Can a Search Engine Detect and Rank Comedy? Google Tries.

The newest funny cat on YouTube says No No No No

Look out “I Are Cute Kitten.” There’s a new cat in town, and she says No No No No. And according to research it’s the funniest video out there.
Google is trying to create an algorithm that ranks a video in terms of humor/comedy. Here’s an article about the subject, and here’s a BBC World Service Radio interview I just did live on the topic. Humor is a difficult thing for a computer to detect, but I do think we can collect viewer reactions to draw conclusions.

I spoke last year at the International Society for Humor Studies (see presentation) and the academics and psychologists were having trouble agreeing on the constructs and classifications of humor. It’s a bit like sculpting fog to predict what makes us laugh.
Can Google do it? It is a company made up mostly of engineers. It won’t be an easy or precise task, but I won’t rule it out.
Naturally I DO think that humor can be researched based on human reactions. That’s why (as seen below) I always test my videos behind one-way glass with indepth interviews and focus groups.

Why My Meetings Are So Boring

Corporate meetings can be such a drag. I recently stumbled via the World Wide Web into the Corporate Entertainer Jeff Civillico, who bungees on a tricycle. Candidly I’m less surprised at this feat as disappointed that all meeting entertainers don’t do this. The next time you’re at a corporate event and they bring in some watered-down softball comedian, scream “bungee on a unicycle, limp d*ck!”

Oh wow… while writing this post I discovered the dude’s performing just miles from me November 3. Anyone want to sneak in and yell aforementioned statement? I want some funny and visceral entertainment. I want that.

 

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Funny Conference

So I’m sitting at Starbucks at 3, and I’ll be on stage in about 33 minutes. My presentation looks perhaps like a hotdog long before it takes that edible, if somewhat phallic, shape. Despite my morning’s panic attack, missing a flight and driving the 7 hours to Boston, I manage to catch YouTube Hall-of-Famer Michael Buckley as I pass his town. Sadly he has “a doctor’s appointment” that precludes a quick spanking or whatever YouTubers do when they meet.

It’s 3:03 as I reorder slides, fundamentally changing my entire presentation (shown below on Slideshare) I can’t help but get distracted by two nervous looking band members who appear to be meeting a new digital marketer consultant. “Our last guy, um, got really busy with school,” says Shaggy (his real name is being withheld because I don’t know it). The consultant begins to LAY IT ON THICK. Total bullshit, coated with a thick creamy topping of arrogance and a faux-pedantic snobbery crowning it all like an overly marinated cherry on top.

The topic of viral video comes up, and my face begins to literally contort as I hear the crap this guy’s advising. I couldn’t control my face. I could see some gal looking at me, and then over at them… making the connection. But I can’t help myself. When Shaggy says “I’m not willing to lose my integrity to get 3 million views on YouTube,” I think seriously about coming to his rescue. But something about this consultant strikes me as odd and dangerous. He’s far too assertive, simplistic, narcissistic, simplistic and repetitive (seems we loathe that in others that we resent in ourselves).

As I’ve finally shifted back to my presentation, literally changing the entire thesis at this point with minutes to spare, the consultant BARGES out the door of Starbucks leaving Shaggy and Scooby stunned. Again I decide to go to their rescue, hold their hand, and tell them that one need not compromise their virtues to go viral… I’ll even volunteer. But just like a dream ending abruptly, they vanish. Come to think of it, maybe it was a dream. No… I’m pretty sure it was real.

Then I gave this presentation below. To show that humor is hard to categorize because of its subjectivity, I did a live vlog (seen at the end of this video) where I followed the 102nd rule of “winning over an audience.” I secretly maligned them using a stage whisper. I was actually kinda bummed out they laughed, which is not what I expected after reading this Joel Warner Wired article that put this on my rader (and created an obsession for me).

Now for the preliminary findings, and a BIG thanks to Alexis, Kiddsock and Will Reese, as well as other contributors!

 

Best YouTube Song Parodies

I just discovered this OneProduktionFilms playlist of YouTube song parodies (ones created mostly by YouTubers — not repurposed television song parodies).

Below are videos of my two favorites Jon Lajoie (who I want to be when I grow up) in “High as F*ck.” And the classic “YouTube is My Life” by Church of Blow.

Like my favorite film comedians — Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Chevy Chase — these guys have that combination of wit and low self esteem that goes together like chocolate and peanut butter.

But I suppose my favorite actor/comedian would be the appearingly more stable Charles Grodin. He can say more with a blank stare than most can in a monologue.

Speaking of Grodin, Hughsnews asked his viewers to tell us what movie star would play certain YouTubers in a film, and someone said Grodin. I felt good about myself for about 10 solid minutes.

Tom Hanks FatOther suggestions for Nalts included:

  1. A burrito
  2. Nathan Lane
  3. Jim Carrey on weak sleeping pills
  4. Larry Linville (Frank Burns)
  5. Charles Nelson Reilly (Match Came guy)
  6. Neil Flynn
  7. Billy Crystal
  8. Mike O’Malley
  9. Tom Hanks (no I didn’t post that through a sock account- maybe that guy was thinking about the beginning part of Cast Away).