Jazz Robots

YouTube offers many ways to waste one’s time: from movies to documentaries, from music videos to animal videos. Have you seen the one of the cat stalking another cat? It’s hilarious! Clearly the creation of so many technical innovations and the investment of billions of dollars of technical infrastructure were well worth the ability to waste one’s time in so many different amusing ways. But every once in a while, YouTube offers something truly creative, such as the guy who produced a video showing iPhone 7 buyers how to drill into their phones so they can use headphones just like their previous iPhones! (hint: do not do this because the purported fix won’t work and your iPhone 7 will be ruined, which is pretty much the joke, unless you actually did it, in which case it’s probably not so funny) Not only is the video and the resulting mental dent entertaining, but the comments below with their pleas of, “Why, oh why did I do this?” are also entertaining.

Another work of unacknowledged genius are the Jazz Robots. Imagine it if you can: two animated robots talking endlessly about jazz in robot voices without  emotion—so killing man. One can waste hours watching jazz robots, and you can trust your correspondent on this because he has. The question remains though, why? What is it about two animated robots talking jazz that is so unexpectedly entertaining? They talk about “shedding,” which means practicing by one’s self. The talk about “having a sesh,” which means engaging in a “jam session,” or practice. They talk about “gigs”—that is, performances—which is why they shed and sesh. They talk about their equipment, buying equipment when they should be shedding, groupies, money, not being “in the pocket” (i.e., “the zone”), and the Berklee School of @#$%ing Music. In short Jazz Robots is only superficially about jazz because it’s really about performance, cooperation, conflict, and interaction among sentient beings with robotic approximations of human emotion in a fresh setting.

High school musicians quote Jazz Robots at length, which must mean something. It should be pretty obvious at this point that Jazz Robots is like Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction in that the incongruity between the characters and their dialogue is inherently fresh, surprising, and funny. In other words, philosophical discussions are to mob hitmen as jazz is to robots. They’re funny because one does not expect mafia hitmen to discuss philosophy articulately any more than one expects robots to discuss jazz in an atonal robot voice.

The questions remains though, what is the ultimate meaning of jazz robots, its ontology if you will. Well, watching jazz robots is like drinking a Slurpee or visiting Las Vegas. That is, the first few minutes are great, but the couple of minutes after that aren’t that great, and they keep diminishing in entertainment value. But still one keeps drinking that Slurpee, hanging out in Vegas, or watching jazz robots in the vain hope that the next Slurpee sip, bad Vegas attraction, or Jazz Robots video will provide the same jolt of electric excitement that the first did. The only thing can do is stop drinking the Slurpee, leave Las Vegas, or stop watching Jazz Robots and come back until the feeling goes away. In that respect, Jazz Robots is almost exactly like life, which is doubtless its appeal.


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