Generating Dutch Punning Riddles about Current Affairs
Thomas Winters

Computational humor is a field within computational creativity, pushing computers towards the understanding and generation of one of the quintessentially human aspects of communication, humor. Giving conversational agents the ability to create relevant jokes could help them transform from tools to friends. While existing punning riddle generators (e.g. JAPE and STANDUP) already perform well, they only have limited support for steering the topic and only operate in English. We present MopjesBot, a bot posting series of generated Dutch punning riddles about the news on a daily basis. It generates puns such as "Het is een Belgisch politica en komt tot net boven de enkel: Maggie De Sok". The generator achieves this by first scraping news articles and performing named entity recognition. Afterwards, it chooses the most frequent, still unused, suitable name, detects the syllable boundaries, and employs rhyme dictionaries, unigrams and syllable counters to insert a pun into the chosen name. It then uses online knowledge bases and sentence analysis to describe both the famous person and the inserted word in riddle form. Finally, it posts a subset of the resulting punning riddles about the chosen news-worthy person online for human users to enjoy. We found that this method works well for a large number of popular Belgian figures (e.g. TV personalities, politicians). This research shows how linking several existing NLP tools can lead to generation of humor based on current affairs. By extension, it helps open the path to giving conversational agents a temporally sensitive sense of humor.