What makes us laugh? Humor researchers have been studying this question for years, but so far consumers haven't benefited much from their findings. Now, however, comes a new app from a startup that wants to help you not only understand what factors into your particular flavor of funny, but also discover more content that keeps you rolling with laughter.
Today Laffster, a startup out of the L.A.-based accelerator MuckerLab, is launching Mock The Vote, a free iOS app that brings together both original and aggregated content from the usual political humor suspects: snippets from The Onion, SNL, Jon Stewart, and Stephen Colbert mingle with picks from The New Yorker's cartoon editor Robert Mankoff and Maker Studios.
But the election is just the start of Laffster's goal to bring humor discovery and recommendation to the Internet through deals with third-party humor content creators, as well as its own web and mobile apps. The company just finished raising a $750,000 seed round from investors including Greylock Partners, Maker Studios’ Chris Williams, and StockTwits cofounder Howard Lindzon.
"We’re not here to say what’s funny, we’re here to say what about the content is funny," cofounder and CEO Daniel Altmann tells Fast Company.
Altmann, who created Laffster with cofounders Eric Posen--a standup comedian and former Googler--and Geoff Plitt, says the founders saw a challenge in wading through the massive amount of comedic content on the web, because no discovery platform existed to help people find things they think are funny, the way Pandora and Songza find you music you like.
Laffster's goal is to build a Pandora-style comedy genome through its humor recommendation engine, which it's developing in conjunction with some of those academic humor researchers from schools such as Dartmouth and the University of Colorado at Boulder.
"On the one end it’s about categorizing content into different buckets," Altmann says. "As we move toward personalization and not just discovery, it’s marrying a user to content based on what they’re like, according to their social graphs."
For now, Laffster is starting with Mock The Vote to capitalize on the one-third of Americans under 40 who consider political satirists as replacing more traditional news outlets such as Fox and CNN.
"You tune in, you get informed, and you laugh, which is how younger generations consume the news through this very organized discovery method," Altmann says. "That’s why we’re shaping this first app as the one-stop shop for everything funny this election season."
Binders full of bayonets, anyone?
[Image: Flickr user DoNotLick]