An AI Generated Comedy Special

George Carlin's Latest Jokes

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AI generated image of comedian on stage looking out at audience

Dudesly AI Special: YouTube

George Carlin was arguably one of the greatest names in comedy. Starting his career in the late ‘50s, he made a name for himself with his sharp wit and cutting social comedy. He made his mark on the stand-up scene in the late 70s with his infamous “Dirty words you can't say on TV or the radio.” He was an outspoken critic of the status quo and made a point of never punching down. 

His effects and comedy can still be felt in how some comedians tell their jokes or how hard they try to match his record of a new hour log special every year - a tradition that was sadly broken because he died in 2008. 

In 2016, a posthumous special was released with some of his previously unseen work, and we laughed with him for the last time. 

That was until this month.

AI comedian “Dudesy” released a new comedy special on YouTube entitled “I’m Glad I’m Dead”—a very Carlin-esque title for a very bizarre concept. 

The special opens with the voice of “Dudesly”, explaining that this is an impression. It says it's using a rendering of his voice, selected topics, and Carlin's mannerisms to create this new act. 

The opening joke was that he hadn’t made a new special because he was dead. It was super jarring, mainly because it felt like the type of joke Carlin would have made. 

After listening to the special, it's clear how good the technology is getting. It’s unclear how many of the jokes were written by  Will Sasso and Chad Kultgen( the minds behind this project) and how many the AI actually punched up itself. But the voice and cadence were undeniable. Even the bit about why we love reality TV was very Carlin - with its four-beat structure. 

Reactions have been mixed - while we've seen AI imitations of van Goth in museums and even people building their loved ones into chatbots - this has a uniquely different feel. Much like the criticisms against Ghostwriter and his music - the notion of taking the voice of a beloved comedian and using it to tell jokes just feels wrong. 

Carlin’s daughter wrote in a series of tweets

“My statement regarding the AI-generated George Carlin special: My dad spent a lifetime perfecting his craft from his very human life, brain and imagination.  No machine will ever replace his genius. These AI-generated products are clever attempts at trying to recreate a mind that will never exist again. Let’s let the artist’s work speak for itself. Humans are so afraid of the void that we can’t let what has fallen into it stay there. Here’s an idea, how about we give some actual living human comedians a listen to? But if you want to listen to the genuine George Carlin, he has 14 specials that you can find anywhere.” 

As technology gets better, we will see more and more of this. Based on some of the lines in the special, it's evident that the people behind this project don’t believe they have done anything wrong, linking the idea of AI and digital consciousness to heaven. 

The reaction has been all over the place for fans of the late comedian. Some hate the idea, saying that Carlin would despise the lack of creativity. Some say it's a work of art and are excited to have Carlin back. Others, and probably the more sane of the groups, are united in missing such an icon in the comedy world. They are even revisiting some of his actual work. 

Seeing how this has been one of the more divisive topics - what do you think? Should they take it down out of respect for the family? Should we support art created in this manner? Where is the line between using AI to help create art and using AI to replace art?

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