Standup Isn't ChatGPT's Strength

Researchers, comedians find AI lacks originality in its jokes
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 11, 2023 5:25 PM CDT
So Far, ChatGPT Isn't That Funny

Someday, everyone might have to laugh at their ChatGPT boss's jokes. That could be painful: At this point in its development, the bot's attempts at humor mostly fall flat. Several efforts have tested its ability to be funny, finding signs of hope but not a lot of laughs. Two German researchers asked chatbot if it knows any good jokes. That prompted the delivery of 1,008 jokes. But more than 90% of them were the same 25 jokes over and over, they wrote on arXiv, a Cornell University site that posts articles that haven't undergone peer review.

That led Insider to ask ChatGPT for 25 jokes. The results were the sort of knee-slappers a third grader might bring home from school:

  • "Why did the scarecrow win an award? Because he was outstanding in his field."
  • "Why did the tomato turn red? Because it saw the salad dressing."
  • "Why was the math book sad? Because it had too many problems."
It's clear, the researchers wrote, that ChatGPT can't create humorous content that's original. The title of their paper begins with "ChatGPT is fun, but it is not funny."

Vulture measured ChatGPT's comedic ability another way, asking it to produce jokes "in the style of" a half-dozen working comedians who then assessed the results. Gary Gulman was appalled that his first one began with "Have you ever noticed"—which he considers in a long-outdated style. He was impressed by one AI bit: "I have a drawer full of old cellphones. Why? I don't know. Maybe someday I’ll need to call someone in the past." But the chatbot had a fail when it began a joke with another line Gulman considers corny: "Don't even get me started on …" W. Kamau Bell decided the best the technology probably can do is improve bits. "But you're not going to see ChatGPT headline Madison Square Garden or release a comedy special where we all look at it and go, 'That’s good comedy,'" he said. (More chatbot stories.)

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