The laughing terrorist

Thanks to some new software developed in the US, you can now find out just how funny you really are.

‘So this is Christmas<br>And what have you done<br>Another year over<br>And a new one just begun’ – John Lennon.<br>

Have you ever wondered just how funny you really are? Oh, sure, you might believe that you are most comical genius since Harold Lloyd, but are you really?

Well now is your chance to find out, thanks to the good folks at the US-based outfit Comedy University who have developed some new software specifically designed to evaluate comedic talent.

Dubbed ‘Comedy Evaluator Pro’, the software analyses a comedian’s recorded act to determine how well the audience has received his or her performance. Using a method the company calls PAR (Positive Audience Response), the software generates a score for each performer based on how much of the act is filled with laughs from the audience. It then compares the ‘score’ of the comedian against the scores of established comedy stars.

It’s already being put to good use by Comedy Incorporated, a San Diego, CA-based company that provides comedy events for corporations and non-profit organisations.

‘We tell comedians who want to work with us that they must have an average PAR score of at least 25. If we receive a tape from a comedian with a score higher than that, we’ll jump on it. The alternative is for us to spend many hours sifting through video tapes to find the gems,’ says Jackie Candida, a spokesperson for the company.

While the Comedy Evaluator Pro software is presently targeted at evaluating comedians, a wider future use might be found at the US Department of Defence who are currently spending billions of dollars investing in the development of ineffective biometric systems for the identification of terrorists.

You see the problem with these biometric identification systems – and that includes electronic fingerprinting, facial recognition software and iris-scanning machines – is that they are only good at ‘recognising’ a person through their pertinent characteristics once those traits have previously been entered into the system. So while they are good at recognising the evil that we know, they are no use at all in tracking down the evil that we know that we don’t know.

There are no such issues, however, with using the comedy software. Since there is no chance that a terrorist will be a good stand-up comedian, there is also no possibility that he or she will be able to obtain a PAR score higher than 2 or 3. Therefore, without prior training, the software will be able to quickly identify the terrorist, who can then be detained indefinitely in a detention camp at some obscure location on the planet.

It would be most terribly unfortunate if the software should erroneously determine that the leaders of the western world should also fall into this particular camp, but perhaps they might be able to spend some time brushing up on their acts before taking the test.

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