Can AI Tell A Joke?

In 2021, the Netflix team collaborated with writer Keaton Patti in making a bot watch over 400,000 hours of stand-up comedy and then write its own special.

Here’s a few examples of the jokes it came up with: 

I just had birthday, turned an older age. I am now so old my birth certificate is death certificate’. 

Free speech? Not no more. Costs 17 dollars’ 

Dinosaurs are crazy weird right? How did they survive without having credit cards? I guess they didn’t’. 

This comedy special inspired YouTubers to start performing comedy stand-ups written by ChatGPT for vlog content, never-ending reddit threads about AI’s capabilities, and heated debates among comedians and tech enthusiasts alike.

The experiment showcased both the potential and shortcomings of AI-generated humor. It’s certainly not perfect but you can’t deny, it tries really hard. 

In an age where much of mainstream comedy is loud, exaggerated, and slapstick, AI’s dry, nonsensical, and dad-joke like humor is somewhat of a refreshing contrast. 

It’s so lame that it’s actually kind of funny.

Is ChatGPT funny?

Since its release in November 2022, ChatGPT has been helpful in assisting millions of users in answering both basic and complex customer service queries, content creation, programming assistance, mental health support, entertainment (text-based games and entertaining conversations), and even for starting conversations on dating apps. 

AI-generated pick-up line

Comedy is no exception. Though, you might want to hold back on complex puns unless you’re prepared for a deep dive into wordplay with ChatGPT. 

The tool is known to generate texts that attempt to mirror human conversation, but that is exactly how it fails with being humorous. It tries too hard. 

According to a study conducted by Cornell University which examines the humor capabilities of ChatGPT, it’s revealed that the AI tool’s humor isn’t quite human-like yet. 

It can generate responses that resemble humor but often lacks the nuanced understanding and context that humans typically apply to humor. 

The researchers found that ChatGPT’s humor tends to be more formulaic and repetitive compared to human humor. This is because it relies on patterns and structures from the data it was trained on. 

This means that it excels at recognizing and replicating patterns and can easily identify common structures and setups for jokes, such as puns, wordplay, or specific punchline formats.

But this in turn makes its generated humor predictable and repetitive, so don’t expect it to be revolutionary or original in the comedy it generates. 

I asked ChatGPT why it can’t make good jokes. Here’s a summary of its responses: 

  • ChatGPT has limited understanding of humor dynamics. It lacks the complex linguistic and cultural nuances that are often involved in humor. 
  • It’s highly dependent and limited to training data. The datasets used may not encapsulate the full spectrum of humor as understood by humans. 
  • ChatGPT lacks emotional and social intelligence. It’s literally a bot, so of course it’s not going to understand the intent behind jokes or gauge genuine audience reactions. 
  • AI models are optimized for objectives such as coherence and relevance rather than humor per se. This means that the jokes generated are more likely to prioritize the system’s initial functionality as opposed to the subtleties of human humor. 

Here’s a joke by ChatGPT for you to either laugh at or cringe. Both reactions are perfectly acceptable. 

ChatGPT generated joke

Want more? Here’s a whole Reddit thread of ChatGPT generated jokes that other users have encountered.

What about Meta AI and Google’s Gemini?

No, just no.

Here’s Meta AI’s attempt at being funny: 

Meta AI generated joke

On the other hand, Google’s Gemini takes it a step further by citing the sources it gets its joke from. But, it makes little to no sense in relation to the joke. 

Google's Gemini generated joke

It seems that the platform just crawled the internet for a random article that appears to have written about feelings commonly associated with humor (joy, happiness, etc) to generate a joke that to me at least, is possibly the worst out of the three AI platforms tested. 

Bottom line: For now at least, it seems like AI is not out there to replace everything, especially not humor. 

If you’re looking to use AI to help crack a joke or two, just remember that it will very likely be a miss. Unless, that’s what you intend it to be.