Presumably, comedians have looked on smugly as factory workers, checkout assistants and other professions are slowly replaced by robots.
No one could ever replace the wit, humour and intelligence of a real-life flesh and blood stand-up, right?
WRONG! Hitachi have created a little robotic chap that can tell jokes and then even gauge how well they went down with the audience.
EMIEW2 works his magic
Admittedly, it's not particularly funny but the technology is very clever indeed.
When asked how many people work at Hitachi's lab the (wait for it) The Excellent Mobility And Interactive Existence As A Workmate Robot (EMIEW2 for short), it responds: "We have two swans."
The person asking the question then looks confused - something EMIEW2 picks up on and interprets.
The little bot then says: "You got it? I'm kidding, we have about 800 people working here."
As mentioned earlier, the humour isn't exactly grade A.
EMIEW2 has been "developed as part of Hitachi's efforts to create a service robot with diverse communication functions that could safely coexist with humans while conducting necessary services".
With this in mind he's small so he doesn't get in the way and and glides around on his own custom wheels.
He's programmed to recognise key words to recognise questions he's being asked and detect movements such as shoulder shrugs to detect comprehension or the lack of it on the part of the listener.
Hitachi's Hisashi Ikeda, said: "The new technology makes it possible for a robot to understand what a human means, even if they only gesture."