Robots in the Arts

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.

Additional Past Work

Our lab’s past work under this umbrella includes investigations of robot visual art (and how people interact with it), in addition to how to express ideas about ADHD through robot art.


  • Ayan Robinson (PhD Student)
  • Madison Shippy (MS Student)
  • DeAndre Walcott (Undergraduate Researcher)


  • Nisha Raghunath, Christopher A. Sanchez, and Naomi T. Fitter, "Robot Comedy (is) Special: A Surprising Lack of Bias for Gendered Robotic Comedians," International Conference on Social Robotics (ICSR), Florence, Italy, 2022. [BibTeX] [PDF]
  • Carson Gray, Trevor Webster, Brian Ozarowicz, Yuhang Chen, Timothy Bui, Ajitesh Srivastava, Naomi T. Fitter, "'This Bot Knows What I'm Talking About!' Human-Inspired Laughter Classification Methods for Adaptive Robotic Comedians," Paper accepted to the International Conference on Human and Robot Interactive Communication (RO-MAN), Naples, Italy, 2022. [BibTeX] [PDF]
  • 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 (remote), 2021. [BibTeX] [PDF]
  • Mazdak Shadkam and Naomi T. Fitter, "Abstract paintings for robot design," Proceedings of the 2020 ICSR Workshop on Metaphors for Human-Robot Interactions, International Conference on Social Robotics (ICSR), Golden, CO, USA (remote), 2020. [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 (remote), 2020. [BibTeX] [PDF]
  • Aidan Phillips, Ashwin Vinoo, and Naomi T. Fitter, "May I draw your attention? Initial lessons from the Large-Scale Generative Mark Maker," Robotics and Automation Letters, 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. (remote), 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. (remote), 2020. [BibTeX] [PDF]