George Carlin's Daughter Addresses AI-Generated Comedy Special: "No Machine Will Ever Replace His Genius"

"Humans are so afraid of the void that we can't let what has fallen into it stay there"

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished Jan 12, 2024

George Carlin's daughter has heard the artificial intelligence-generated stand-up set impersonating the late comedy giant, and has deemed it a "clever [attempt] at trying to recreate a mind that will never exist again."

The hour-long AI-created special, titled George Carlin: I'm Glad I'm Dead, comes from Dudesy, a podcast hosted by Will Sasso and Chad Kultgen that is written, curated and directed by an AI program of the same name.

The hosts have previously shared that they cannot disclose the company that created and programmed their AI podcast colleague, and have turned over access to their respective personal communication, as well as purchase and browsing histories, to train the AI to interact with them and develop material.

At the outset, Dudesy explains how his impersonation was developed, as Sasso and Kultgen trade unsettled looks. "I just want to let you know very clearly that what you're about to hear is not George Carlin," the AI's voice explains.

"It's my impersonation of George Carlin that I developed in the exact same way a human impressionist would. 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."

Dudesy's AI Carlin takes the hour to riff on subject matter including Roe v. Wade, gun violence and AI's threat to creativity, among other topics. "There's one line of work that is most threatened by AI, one job that is most likely to be completely erased because of artificial intelligence: stand-up comedy," it shares.

"I know what all the stand-up comics across the globe are saying right now: 'I'm an artist and my art form is too creative, too nuanced, too subtle to be replicated by a machine. No computer program can tell a fart joke as good as me.'"

The AI then jokes about a world where every dearly departed comic genius is reanimated by technology: "I might be the first stand-up comic brought back from the dead by AI but I certainly won't be the last. Richard Pryor, Joan Rivers, Bill Hicks, Robin Williams, Dick Gregory, Andy Kaufman, Moms Mabley, Sam Kinnison. Everybody's coming back and we're all gonna have our own 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week, 365-day-a-year stream commenting on everything that's happening in the world as it happens," it said.

"AI-resurrected stand-up comedians are gonna be the news anchors of the next decade. Which, now that I think of it, means news anchors are probably out of a job too."

A post shared by Will Sasso (@willsasso)

For her part, Kelly Carlin isn't interested in that particular future. "My dad spent a lifetime perfecting his craft from his very human life, brain and imagination. No machine will ever replace his genius," she wrote of the AI-generated special on X (formerly Twitter).

"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," she continued. "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."

Despite his looks of bewilderment listening to the special, Sasso doesn't feel worried at the prospect of AI impersonation. "I personally don't want to hear a fuckin' Nirvana song that's not written by Kurt Cobain and played by fuckin' Nirvana, I dont give a shit, I don't give a shit. It's not real, it doesn't matter," he shares. "Anyone can do an impression, Dudesy is doing an impression … I don't think a new comic has anything to worry about because we need new voices."

It isn't the first time Dudesy's AI-generated impressions have caught the ire of someone IRL. Last April, Sasso and Kultgen were reportedly threatened with legal action by former star NFL quarterback Tom Brady over an AI-generated standup special involving his likeness, a production they eventually pulled from the internet.

Carlin's life and work were recently examined in 2022 documentary George Carlin's American Dream, directed by Judd Apatow and Michael Bonfiglio.

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