summary Summary

A new study by Google DeepMind researchers looked at how well AI language models can help create comedy. They found that AI struggles to generate good jokes.


The team interviewed 20 professional comedians about how useful AI could be for writing funny material. During three-hour workshops at the 2023 Edinburgh Festival Fringe and online, the comedians tested popular AI tools such as ChatGPT and Google Bard to create humorous content.

The comedians then completed surveys rating how well the AI assisted their creative process. They also discussed their reasons for using AI, how they work with it, and their concerns about bias, censorship, and copyright.

Most of the comedians said that the AI wasn't very helpful for writing comedy. They described the AI-generated material as boring and full of stereotypes. One participant said it was like "cruise ship comedy material from the 1950s, but a bit less racist."


The comedians had to heavily edit the AI output to make it usable. At best, the AI provided a rough starting point that some found helpful.

Many also criticized how the AI models filter content. When trying to write from their own cultural perspective, the AI often blocked their input as potentially offensive. Participants saw this as a form of censorship.

AI also failed to understand the context that is essential to comedy: who is telling what joke to what audience in what place? One participant summed it up by saying that AI is "everywhere and nowhere all
at once."

In addition, the participants noted that AI lacks life experience, perspective, and emotion – key ingredients for good comedy. Without human delivery and timing, the AI-generated jokes felt lifeless.

To mitigate these issues, the researchers suggest creating AI models specifically trained on comedy writing, and recommend better integrating context into how AI processes comedy material.


Overall, the study shows that creative writing, especially humor, remains a major challenge for AI. While technology can speed up parts of the process, humans are still much better at crafting good jokes.

As one comedian summed it up: "The only thing again that is funny in what I gave you is the joke I put into the prompting."

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  • In workshops with Google Deepmind, 20 professional comedians tested popular AI language models to help them write humorous material. They found the models to be of limited help.
  • According to the participants, the AI-generated material sounded bland, stereotypical, and reminiscent of outdated comedy styles. They also criticized the AI for being biased against minorities and for lacking the context, life experience, and emotion that are essential to good comedy.
  • The researchers suggest that language models should be made more responsive to the needs of creative communities. Despite the potential for AI to speed up the creative process, humorous writing remains a domain in which humans are superior to machines.
Online journalist Matthias is the co-founder and publisher of THE DECODER. He believes that artificial intelligence will fundamentally change the relationship between humans and computers.
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