Meet our writers


Humor August 2016

Ernie's World

Humor Robots?

By Ernie Witham

No, you haven’t just walked onto the set of a Star Wars movie, you’re at a Hilton. Or a Hyatt. Maybe even a Budget Motel, though C3PO might look more like a used wringer washing machine there.

Imagine walking into your favorite hotel to ask about your reservation and having C3PO wave his arms frantically, while turning his head side to side and saying: “Reservation? I don’t know, I just don’t know. Oh my! Oh my! Master Luke, we have a problem.” Beside him, R2D2 lights up, whistles a bit, and spits out a piece of paper with your name and room number on it.

No, you haven’t just walked onto the set of a Star Wars movie, you’re at a Hilton. Or a Hyatt. Maybe even a Budget Motel, though C3PO might look more like a used wringer washing machine there.

Companies have already been using robots to make precision welds and move large pieces of automobiles into place on assembly lines. Now major hotel chains are beginning to use robots at check-in counters, as baggage handlers and room service personnel, and, of course, to run complaint departments: “The bed was too firm. The TV was not big enough. The Wi-Fi was sketchy. An another thing, and another thing… Are you even listening to me?”

“Yes. I. Am. List-en-ing.”

“Well how come your eyes are not glowing?”

“They. Only. Work. When. Some-thing. In-tell-i-gent. Is. Being. Said.”

“Right, then. Wait, what?”

In a flash of corporate-profit-making-ingenuity, the tycoons of industry are now using robots to make more robots that will be used to replace people in many industries, including such traditional jobs as baseball umpires: “Strike. One. Strike. Two. Strike. Three.” 

“What are you blind? That was wide.”

“I. In-cor-por-ate. The. La-test. Dig-i-tal. Cam-er-a. Tech-nol-o-gy. And. I. Am. Not. The. One. Who. Should. Worry. A-bout. Be-ing. Wide. Tub-o.” Another job in jeopardy… bartender:

“My wife just doesn’t understand me.”

“May-be. You. Should. Get. A. New. Brain.”

“Yeah, and maybe I should kick your butt!”

“Good. Luck. It’s. Made. Of. Ti-tan-i-um.”

Even taxi drivers may become obsolete: “You sure you are qualified to drive this thing?”

“I. Have Been Pro-grammed. Pre-cis-ley. They E-ven. Gave. Me. A. Dash-board. Hu-la. Dan-cer.”

The corporate logic behind this technology move: robots don’t require a salary, health care benefits, coffee breaks, or vacations. They don’t even need sleep. Just a bit of WD-40 every now and then, which can be applied by other robots.

In Japan, an AI (Artificial Intelligence, kind of like many politicians possess) program co-wrote a short story, which made it through the first round of a contest.

“It. Was. A. Dark. And. Storm-y. Night. So. I. Just. Shut. Down. Un-til. Dawn.”

The contest did stipulate that it would allow both regular entries and entries from “applicants that are not human beings.” But apparently they disqualified any envelopes postmarked from outside our own galaxy.

Some corporate publishers are probably excited about this possibility. No more of those pesky advances to deal with or annoying residual payments. They don’t even have to pay for first class airline tickets to fly robot authors to New York City for book signings. They can get the cargo rate: “Are. You. A. Fam-ous. Auth-or. Too?”

“Arff, arff.”

Plus, they know they can count on their robot scribes to sell more books at bookstores: “I. Am. Pro-grammed. To. Shut. Off. The. Lights. Heat. And. Lock. The. Doors. Now. Who. Wants. To. Buy. A. Book?”

I’m worried that they might learn how to program a robot to write columns. Then I will be out of work. No more spending all day in my office trying to come up with some clever bit of observation and turning it into 700 words of absolute brilliance.

“You. Call. This. Bril-li-ant? I’ve. Seen. Black. Holes. With. More. In-sights.”

“Hey, that’s not funny.”

“It. Is. Ac-cord-ing. To. My. Pro-gram-er.”

Great. If robots get humor programmers, they could teach them how to find humor in everyday situations. Train them how to spin a yarn. Engage in witty repartee. Then all of us flesh and blood humor writers will become totally obsolete.

Hmm… Maybe I should go undercover. Pretend to be a programmer. I could make them less funny. Yeah. I will program in a bunch of old jokes that everyone already knows. Toss in some groaners. A few sick limericks. Some dumb puns.

“Good. I-de-a. Ro-bots. Love. Puns.”

We’re all doomed.


For more adventures please check out: Ernie's World the Book, and "A Year in the Life of a 'Working' Writer" This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit:

Meet Ernie