Robot Comedy

Jon the Robot, our lab’s robotic stand-up comedian, helps us study autonomous humor skills to make your future robots and virtual assistants better.


Social robots are increasingly common in everyday spaces, but certain social robot skills still require vast improvement. Humor is one particular ability that can stand to improve; although humor is nuanced and essential to interpersonal bonding, many existing social robots resort to puns or corny jokes in their attempts at witticism. At the same time, it is challenging to develop entertaining jokes for robots that endure past novelty.


Robots in the wild can begin to learn about which jokes work and which jokes flop by performing live comedy. Stand-up comedy is one structured way that people can use to evaluate if the things they say are funny and adapt according to the responses of audience members. Thus, stand-up offers an interesting structured environment for a robot to rigorously test its joke-telling skills.


  • Carson Gray (MS Student)
  • Paris Myers (Undergraduate Researcher)


  • Nisha Raghunath, Paris Myers, Christopher A. Sanchez, and Naomi T. Fitter, "Women Are Funny: Influence of Apparent Gender and Embodiment in Robot Comedy," Paper accepted to the International Conference on Social Robotics (ICSR), Singapore, 2021. [BibTeX] [PDF]
  • Ajitesh Srivastava and Naomi T. Fitter, "A Robot Walks into a Bar: Automatic Robot Joke Success Assessment," Paper accepted to the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Xi'an, China, 2021. [BibTeX] [PDF]
  • Carson Gray, Paris Myers, and Naomi T. Fitter, "Read the room, robot! Exploring audiovisual methods to improve the effectiveness of robotic comedians," Proceedings of the 2020 IROS Workshop on Social AI for Human-Robot Interaction of Human-Care Service Robots, IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), Las Vegas, NV, USA, 2020. [BibTeX] [PDF]
  • John Vilk and Naomi T. Fitter, "Comedy by Jon the Robot," Hands-on Demonstration presented at the ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction, Cambridge, U.K., 2020. [BibTeX] [PDF]
  • John Vilk and Naomi T. Fitter, "Comedians in cafes getting data: Evaluating timing and adaptivity in real-world robot comedy performance," Proceedings of the ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI), Cambridge, U.K., 2020. [BibTeX] [PDF]