Can AI have a place in comedy? Comedians put it to the test

With artificial intelligence being used in numerous industries worldwide, comedians have wondered how the technology may affect their careers.

Can it be used to inspire ideas, generate jokes, or even rework existing comedic material? Well, new research suggests AI can write comedy, but only to a certain extent.

A study was completed by Google DeepMind researchers and led by Piotr Mirowski who is an improv comedian in his spare time. They focused on 20 professional comedians who were already using some form of AI in their artistic process.

They found that the initial legwork like creating a rough first draft or structuring a monologue was possible with the technology, but creating something that was actually funny often fell short.

The comedians involved in the research “reflected positively on the potential of LLMs to assist with some tasks within the comedy writing process.

“However, many participants commented on the overall poor quality of generated outputs, and the amount of human effort required to arrive at a satisfying result.”

As such, some use cases of AI were described as being more fundamental for the preparation stage, like the tool being a conversational brainstorming partner, critic, choreographic assistant, translator, and historical guru.

Can AI tell a joke?

When looking at the actual comedy output, one person in the study described AI’s attempts as being “the most bland, boring thing – I stopped reading it. It was so bad.”

Another said: “Just consistently bad…I didn’t really improve on the jokes.”

While AI gave it a good go, the researchers found the human writer still produces humorous elements in co-written text. Even when the tool did spit back something funny, the comedians attributed the best part of the produced content to the human involved: “The only thing again that is funny in what I gave you is the joke I put into the prompting.”

So while AI doesn’t have a job in stand-up any time soon, its usage could prove beneficial for admin and advertising-related tasks.

Featured Image: Via Ideogram

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Sophie Atkinson