Laughing at Robots : Synthesising Humour and Cyber-paranoia in Portrayals of Artificial Intelligence in Welcome to Night Vale



Year of publication 2018
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source European Journal of Humour Research
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Keywords relief theory; artificial intelligence; cyber-paranoia; anxiety; anxiety-discharge; sentience-ambiguity; the uncanny valley; paranoid fiction; Welcome to Night Vale
Description This article addresses the synthesis of humour and paranoia in portrayals of artificial intelligence (AI) in the popular American podcast Welcome to Night Vale (2012-). It argues that contrary to the Relief Theory, fusing humour and cyber-paranoia does not help release the tension (anxious energy) generated within the narrative. Rather, the synthesis of humour and paranoia maintains suspense by creating within the narratives moments of ambiguity with the potential to leave the reader or audience caught between fear and laughter after the story ends.
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