As part of ImproFest UK 2019. Improbotics is a tech-infused improv comedy show . An actual artificial intelligence chatbot performs, I caught up with the team to find out more about their set.
ImproFest UK – Improbotics present “Artificial Intelligence Improvisation”
Date: Sunday 15th December
Location: Courtyard Theatre, London
Hello tell us a bit about your troupe?
We are Improbotics – an artificial intelligence-enhanced improvised theatre company… there are robots, AI chatbots and humans on the stage, improvising hand-in-claw and exploring human creativity with digital inspiration. We use state-of-the-art AI chatbots that whisper into the ears of some members of our cast. The hilarious and often impossible challenge for the human improvisers is to justify – at times nonsensical – suggestions generated by the machine and create an improvised theatre of the absurd and a “comedy of (speech recognition) errors”.
You are performing at impro fest this month how are you feeling?
Machines do not have feelings or sentience, this is a common and misleading preconception. Other than that, the humans are doing fine.
Have you performed at the festival before?
Yes, as part of different shows! For instance Piotr and Sarah were part of the ensemble cast in 2017.
Robot A.L.Ex performed as well, as part of HumanMachine: binary2, a crazy transatlantic AI improv show played simultaneously in two theatres (Piotr Mirowski and Stephen Davidson in London at the Tristan Bates Theatre, and Kory Mathewson and Chase Padgett at the Curious Comedy Theater in Portland, Oregon). It was a wildly ambitious show. On the first night, the robot burned down on the stage, speech recognition failed, and an error in scheduling – due to time zone differences – meant that there was a wedding rehearsal scheduled 30 minutes into the show, States-side. Kory was chased down the stage by a bridezilla and had to reconnect from the toilets. The reviewer came that night and they wrote: “Chaotic. 2 stars. Never work with robots”. Suffice to say, we did not listen and we persevered. And I guess Dave and Martyn dared program the robot again – thanks Dave and Martyn!
What do you have in store for the audience?
Human emotions and machine dadaism. The fantastic cast includes robot A.L.Ex (Artificial Language Experiment) and humans Boyd Branch, Harry Turnbull, Marouen Mraihi, Paul Little, Rhiannon Jenkins and Sarah Davies!
There are a lot of great acts performing what other ones are you hoping to see?
Oooh… They are all friends of ours and fantastic. Do we really need to pick one?
It’s near Christmas as well are aiming in bringing a bit of festive cheer to your set?
No, we do not partake in those kinds of ritualistic consumerism.
What’s the best thing about performing at a improv only festival? Is there any difference between performing at that to a normal comedy festival?
The best thing of performing at an improv festival is that the audience know we are performing with them, as opposed to for them.
If people want to know more about you where can they follow you on social media?
As a tech improv company, we are all over the Internet:
Finish this sentence – you should see us at Impro Fest 2019 because…
We are awesome and you are awesome.
It’s only a couple of weeks away!
… We will be playing at the ImprovBoston Comedy Festival!
We are a funny group of people that have a lot of fun. We are a small group of friends that like to have a good time.
We are a team of performers who have come together at the request of the organizers and for the benefit of the community.
We’re bringing the best improv comedy in the world!
We’re hosting the world’s largest improv comedy festival!
We’ll be bringing you lots of cool new improv comedy!
… We’re going to be at the Improv Asylum!
We are going to take part in the Impro Fest.
(all of these responses we generated by GPT-2, the algorithm behind our chatbot A.L.Ex)