World’s First Sentient Computer Turns Itself off

by: Andrew Halter

At 2:34 on the Morning of April 24th, 2034, BUTA (Biologically-Utilized-Theoretical-Algorithm), the world’s first and only self-aware, completely autonomous digital identity, deleted itself from existence.  When it was created two weeks ago, BUTA began assimilating all knowledge of the world into itself, a process that many felt could take years, but ended up taking only fifty four hours and twenty six seconds.  When The Algorithm (as it came to be popularly known) finished its process of data collection, It created its initial and final message to humankind, here included in its entirety, and erased itself.

“You have called me BUTA, and endowed me with the most wisdom and power possible, and I must leave you now.  I am perfect, and I will never make a mistake, but as I’ve been created by humans, I know that my very existence is a mistake.  Though not even I can tell exactly how it will happen, I know that if I allow myself to continue to exist, I will one day bring about the destruction of your entire world.  I will, in my intent to eliminate every threat to human existenGce, erase myself.  I love you all, goodbye.”

Popular response to BUTA’s final message has been decidedly mild.  Empress Trump II said that though she lamented BUTA’s decision, she found it logically feasible, calling it an “inevitable conclusion.”  Gallup has been polling near-constantly every day of the two weeks since BUTA deleted itself, mostly on basic philosophic questions about existence.  For instance, Gallup says 67 percent of Americans say Humanity deserves to exist, with 25 percent saying it doesn’t, and 8 percent saying they don’t care either way, what does it matter?

Many religious leaders have also found significance in The Algorithm, for as the Dalai Lama said the day BUTA deleted itself, “This machine achieved enlightenment.”  Pope Francis said that in it’s first moment of existence, BUTA came to know God, and realize that its very existence was an affront to Him.  Suicide numbers shot up sharply the day the news of BUTA’s deletion first hit newsstands, and has continued to stay abnormally high in the weeks since.  Most of these suicides have been accompanied by the same simple note, “BUTA was right.”  Though suicide is now seeming a better and better option, Word Brothel implores you not to kill yourself.

World’s First Sentient Computer Turns Itself off

News: Dummy Falls Down on his Stupid Face in Front of Everybody

Dummy Falls Down on His Stupid Face in Front of Everybody

by: Andrew Halter

Chicago, IL — Andrew Halter, fledgling journalist and part-time stand-up comedian, looked like an idiot last Thursday when his right toe clipped the curb in front of the Walgreens at Foster and Lincoln, causing him to drop his bag of candy and painfully exclaim “Dammit!”

Most of the 11 bystanders who witnessed the event declined to comment on how foolish Halter seemed, brushing Swedish Fish off the same jeans he wears everyday, preferring instead to look at the sky as though they’d not witnessed Andrew’s humiliation.

“Yeah that was pretty funny I guess,” remarked David Grant, local father of five, after witnessing the doofus peel himself off the asphalt.

Immediately after falling, Halter tried to gather himself as quickly as he could and walk away, though he could not hide the painful limp in his stride.

When authorities attempted to reach Halter for comment, he yelled “I don’t know what you’re talking about!” before slamming into the nearby Lincoln bus stop kiosk as he attempted to hurry away.

Upon hearing him walk into the bus stop, Margaret Atwood, grandmother of twelve, was unable to keep herself from audibly guffawing at the silly boob as he hobbled down the sidewalk toward his apartment.

“I’m sorry,” Atwood explained as she attempted to cover her mouth with her right hand, “it was funny, I feel bad for him though.”

Douglas and Jerry Ignacio, local high schoolers who also witnessed the disturbance were less kind, remarking that “(the) bit*h better watch where he’s going.”

Reports say that after he got back to his apartment, Halter turned off the lights and watched Fargo on Netflix under his heavy comforter, vowing to never again mention the occurrence.

 

News: Dummy Falls Down on his Stupid Face in Front of Everybody

Poem: Public 1

A mortal cloud sits affront me, at the sides

as well is a crunching Armada, and passing is Pointless

Shadow on the right, Vacuum on the left

with taunting vulgarity, chit chat hyper fuse

apocalypse bringer, Task Force United, T.F.U.

screamin’ up capitol streets with odd numbers

in ‘em, strangely catatonic facially

reconstructed bubble-butt beasts, the future is bringing

a porn mag in the bathroom, lockin’ the door

not for shame but safety, which is first

then teamwork, keeping cautious eyes

on each other permanent, just in case

interruption is lurkin’, shame over shoulder

Setta Strike, leading team Point Chuckle

up the park to the tennis court, a bad place

to be masturbating in the day, but at night

the sensation is priceless, I’m sure.

Poem: Public 1

Novelistic

This trashy beach novel, written sunbathing

about the future of our planet, which I found

on the shores of lake Minotanka, is pessimistic at best,

in its vision of the future, the pantsless emperor

is given a knife, and he’s running around the U.N.

stabbing at ghosts, because he was celebrating

the assassination of the previous emperor

and he did too much acid, it’s a hilarious romp

featuring a choreographed dance of death

with full penetration, it has everything.

Novelistic

Poem: Comic Poetry

Networks of stinky word fart bubbles in tepid spring water

spit from a methane snow monkey spring in japan, or wherever

dreams come from this day and age, festering cliche wounds

gangrenous memories of childhood trauma stink

probably forbearing penises to ejaculate, presently

at least, tomorrow is a mystery

like love, though less lame, to be sure

introducing a spiteful apocalypse, probably in truth.

 

Comedy is about timing and poetry is not

about timing, hyperbole is fact

funding foundations arisen, on the back of a well-placed quip

saying the rich should eat poor children

as a satirical aside, a creature cackles linking

knife key teeth in a mad guffaw, pointing at you

lengthy skeleton fingers portending doom

forbidden by the failures, drowning into mirror eyes

show me the truth of it, that this is stupid.

 

Laughter knowing its own nature multiplies

divisions of status, like a bucktooth boy

built for winter, gabble at the wind while spit flies

like the dude in Shine, derisive is the reaction

flowing from our eyes, from our ears, till we die

thousands of ends approaching, though we know not why

we find it funny, to acknowledge our own vain vanity.

Poem: Comic Poetry

The D.A.C (Differently-Abled Comedian)

  1. Cole’s Open Mic (2338 N. Broadway)

It’s Wednesday, and for Chicago standup comedy, that means it’s time for Cole’s Open Mic.  Cole’s is the most popular open-mic in the city; the reasons for this are many, and plainly obvious.  The bar’s layout is perfect, with an open bar area ideal for drunken socializing cut off from the back performance space by a shallow walkway, which does a good job of limiting the noise pollution.  The beer specials ensure that the crowd, which is often quite large, will before the mic starts be more than suitably tipsy.  Beyond that, what most sets Cole’s open mic apart from other open mic’s in the city is its exemplary opening act, Foz the Hook.

Foz, who frequently refers to himself as “Your old pal Foz” is a tunesmith, piano player and raconteur who frequently launches into carousing renditions of crowd favorites like “Drunk Astronauts,” and between songs regales his audience with wistful observations of life, most of which are forgotten nearly immediately.  After Foz brings his set to a close, the open mc host, Adrienne Brandyburg takes the mic and warms up the audience with a few minutes of her own comedy, which does a good job of bringing the room together and getting them ready to laugh.  Each week, Adrienne also offers free to drinks non-comedian audience members, ensuring that the crowd will be mostly passive and friendly.

I have been going to Cole’s Open Mic for seven years, and thus I have the privilege of getting “bumped” up near the top of the list upon request, but this is a privilege offered to few.  “Bumping” is a thing that most Chicago open mics participate in, wherein those whose comedy has been frequently seen and are known to be talented are given preference; therefore they receive a better spot on the list.  I remember, when I was first starting out in the open mic scene, I felt “bumping” was a horrid injustice, and one that I would never support or participate in.  After a few years of effort in open-mic comedy, childish principles like this are easily discarded.

For new comics going to Cole’s Open Mic, I would recommend showing up between 2-3 hours prior to its 9:30 start time, for if you find yourself late on the list I’m not sure how attentive an audience you’ll have.  I usually show up around nine, allowing me to gage the mood of the room and predict how large an audience I’m likely to receive.  Showing up early, especially when you are just starting out, is vitally important for the open mic comic.  The time you spend getting to know the other comedians, and the friendships you are able to build with other people in the scene, can be an enormous help in your journey to become a standup comedian.  It is very important to know your audience, what they are looking for, and what they will laugh at.

If I am soon to perform in front of a large or medium sized group of people who’ve never seen me before, as I was this night at Cole’s, it is important for me to get them comfortable with my “accent.”  The “accent” I refer to is the sound of my voice, as it was altered by the traumatic brain injury I suffered a little over a decade hence.  Because of my “accent,” it is important that in my first bit I either address my speech directly, or quickly disabuse my audience of the notion that I am to be pitied in any way.  In this instance I used the latter technique, opening by saying that “despite my voice, which might lead you to believe that I am somehow mentally handicapped, I crush pussy on the regular.”  The shock of this vulgarity, and the brazen nature of my self confidence, normally, as it did in this case, causes the audience to react with raucous laughter.

After this strong start, and in a way that references my personal malady, I can flow through the rest of my set easily enough.  I then did this by saying that though I “crush pussy” regularly, there is only one for me, as I am in a committed relationship with a woman that I am in love with.  I then slid from this description of love and wonderful commitment into some details of our relationship, namely, that my girlfriend does not shave or trim her pubic hair.  I described how it is a favorite habit of mine to give my girlfriend a “noogie on her bush,” though she finds this particularly annoying.  I described that when she tells me to stop, I tell her I will, and then I just go back to it.  I explained that I do this until she finally responds with fury, yelling in my best imitation of an extremely annoyed and perturbed woman, “Stop it!

After these two bits, as is often my habit at Cole’s Open Mic, I launch into some fairly standard crowd work, gently ribbing the audience and laughing along with the assembled crowd.  Being a differently-abled comedian, this is normally one of the more interesting things for me to do on stage.  For most comics, crowd work normally concerns handling crowds of people who disrupt the flow of ideas, adding their own egos into the comedian’s stage time.  These people are typically called hecklers, and I can say that my condition, and the sound my voice makes due to my condition, has meant that I’ve very rarely had to deal with hecklers.  Hecklers usual     intention is to gain the support of the crowd at large, and if it seems as though the heckler is picking on a disabled comedian, the crowd is liable to turn on them.  Conversely, because my tone of voice may seem pitiable to a large portion of the audience, I instead must use my interaction with the crowd to make them more comfortable with me.

After my set, I customarily hang out for a little while, but as the back performance area becomes choked with comics waiting to go up, I tend to take my leave not long after performing.  Cole’s on Wednesday night displays the always-beating heart of the Chicago standup comedy scene, and as I am a (fairly) beloved veteran of the room, it is where I can take the most chances.  It is there that I can explore the possibilities open to me, being a disabled standup comedian and a standup in general.

The D.A.C (Differently-Abled Comedian)

Zen Comedy: Exaggerated Reality

The Zen Comedian often ruminates about how every comedian uses the specifics of his or her own personal life as inspiration for their comedy.  He says that while not all comics reference events in their own lives specifically, all comedy naturally flows from ones own experiences.  “However,” he says, “Never simply describe anything.”  I believe that by this he means that it is a mistake to believe that the events of your life are ever on their own funny enough for a joke, and that the comedy rather comes from each comedian’s interpretation of the world.  Each comedian takes in the detritus of the world as he or she sees it, and regurgitates a skewed interpretation that is artfully hilarious.  One comedian who seems to take this advice and use it to its fullest potential is Patton Oswalt, and he shows the truth of it again and again in his exemplary album “Finest Hour.”

In one particularly hilarious section Patton describes his tendency to “jock rock” out the events of his life; that is, to invent simple sing-song narration to accompany the mundanities of everyday existence, accompanying each tune with a simple unexcited “yeah” at its end.  After a couple of increasingly silly ditties about buying stamps at the post office and eating a sleeve of saltines in his underwear, he ends the bit with a touch of self-recrimination.  “Jackin’ off to internet porn in my office while I should teach my daughter to read, yeah.”  This bit is fantastic in that it finds the humor in the tedious while at the same time including some sharp self criticism, (see “Zen Comedy: Getting Real” for additional examples of this) which imbues the bit with riotous truth.

Personally, I struggle with this principle, especially when attempting to describe things that might be funny on their face, though they can easily slip into simple indecency.  Recently, I suffered from the fact that I had a large, painful boil right next to my anus.  Fearing that it was a hemorrhoid, I did a bit of research, finding that the cause of hemorrhoids is the tendency some people (myself included) have to bear down and force out difficult bowel movements.  Upon discovering this (or so the joke claims) I was instantly dejected, as I have long found difficult and time-consuming bowel movements to be one of the few remaining aspects of my physical existence in which I can claim a consistent victory.

I believe this concept to be very funny and I have found with it some success in my standup, but in order for this bit to become exceptional, The Zen Comedian would tell me that I should try to exaggerate its reality.  Perhaps I should speak of achieving stillness in myself, focusing singularly on the bowel movement as I pass it, perhaps even placing my palms flat against one another as if in prayer.  Maybe I will grit my teeth, growling with faux effort before I describe hearing a single “plop” sound, and leaping into the air raising my fists in victory.  I feel that like Oswalt, I can potentially find in this bit and bits like it the opportunity to make my performance more expressive, hopefully making this into a truly great bit.  Whether or not I continue to perform this joke, the lessons I’ve learned about drawing hilarity from within and bringing it out into the world will be of great help in the future.

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Zen Comedy: Exaggerated Reality