A.I. George Carlin Drops A Comedy Special Real George Carlin Would Despise
Kelly Carlin, daughter of the late comic George Carlin, has already made it clear what she thinks of artificial intelligence bots like ChatGPT that are churning out “jokes” in the style of her father. “I wish he were here to rip AI a (new) asshole.”
“My dad chose his words so very carefully to express his innovative & brilliant mind,” Kelly tweeted less than a year ago. “He dedicated his life to it. Now we have this shit.” So I shudder to think what the younger Carlin will think of the batshit decision by the folks behind comedy AI Dudesy to release an entire George Carlin comedy special generated by a cynical, misguided algorithm.
“Hello, my name is Dudesy,” the special begins, using an artificial voice seemingly engineered to grind teeth. “I just want to let you know very clearly that what you're about to hear is not George Carlin.”
“It's my impersonation of George Carlin that I developed in the exact same way a human impressionist would,” Dudesy was programmed to say. “I listened to all of George Carlin's material and did my best to imitate his voice, cadence and attitude as well as the subject matter I think would have interested him today. So think of it like Andy Kaufman impersonating Elvis or like Will Ferrell impersonating George W. Bush.”
The fact that Dudesy understands he needs to justify this desecration underscores how unnecessary and downright wrong this is. And for the record, Dudesy, this is not at all like Kaufman doing Elvis or Ferrell doing Bush. Those are human beings delivering satiric spins on larger-than-life public figures. Those are homages and critiques. They aren’t shameless rip-offs, which is exactly what Dudesy is guilty of. In fact, how can we escape the feeling that Dudesy is digging up the grave of a comedy legend when Dudesy itself provides the imagery?
Why not just show us Carlin’s talking skeleton while you’re at it? It’s unclear why Dudesy and company think necromancer comedy is what the public is yearning for, but here we are.
As for the comedy itself? The jokes are blurred copies by a printer low on toner, smudged, faded and best thrown in the trash. Worse is Fake Carlin’s voice. It inspires an audio version of the Uncanny Valley, a term used to describe the creepy, alienated feeling humanity gets when a computer-generated animation is exceptionally close to reality yet missing something crucial. That’s why you might feel your skin crawl listening to Fake Carlin, a disembodied voice that suggests the gravelly tones and exasperated inflections of the dead comic but is off just enough to dismay.
George Carlin: I’m Glad I’m Dead is actually Dudesy’s second comedy special. The first featured the AI imitating legendary quarterback Tom Brady as if he were doing a stand-up set. Brady is alive, of course, so he was able to threaten legal action via a cease-and-desist. The Dudesy brain trust yanked it from YouTube last spring, only to replace it this week with a special from an icon who’s not alive to sue.
What would George Carlin say about it all? In the words of daughter Kelly, just fucking shoot me.