Artificial Intelligence: Stealing more than just a few jokes.

Current Events

Artificial Intelligence is coming for comedy. There will be no stopping it. Somewhere, there will always be someone seeking to copy and profit from another persons work. It’s been happening for generations without the benefit of technology, but it is now about to take a leap into the next phase of theft.

Digital theft.

Chances are, you will never know it. Chances are, you already have been exposed to it and didn’t have a clue. 

Someone already lied about giving it a go, but there’s a smidge of truth in what we can soon expect.

For me, there is no finer example of a legendary comedian than George Carlin. While Bill Cosby was my first exposure to stand-up, coming in the form of several performance cassette tapes such as the exceptional “Why Is There Air?” and “To Russell, My Brother, With Whom I Slept”, everything changed for me when a now rather rare LP copy of the RCA pressing, “Take Offs & Put Ons” by George Carlin somehow found its way into my home. For the life of me, I will never know how that album with THAT language hit my turntable. To this day I’m certain my Mother never knew what was actually pressed into those grooves.

That led me down the path of Al Sleet “The Hippy Dippy Weatherman”, the Indian Sergeant, and of course, those magnificent ‘7 Words You Can Never Say on Television”. Fair to say there is no performer save for the great Howard Cosell that impacted my life as much as Carlin. To this day I am sad I never got the chance to meet and interview him.

Now however, who knows what can happen? As virtual reality breathes life into dead celebrities, it would be no shock to see someone try to resurrect Carlin at his peak, or anyone else dead or living for that matter. Slapping together the tech for deep fakes, virtual reality, AI and textual cheats such as ChatGTP and the like only means this new world will be filled with fraud.

Kelly Carlin has dedicated her life to preserving the legacy of her Dad, and now finds herself having gone to battle with someone who claimed to use AI and create new Carlin material based on his previous works.

Carlin’s estate has settled a lawsuit with the creators of a comedy podcast who claimed to be using AI, but in reality was ripping off Carlin bits and claiming it was just a mimicking of his voice. Turns out, as you can read here, that was a lie. Former MAD TV comedian Will Sasso and writer Chad Kultgen stole copyrighted works from Carlin and tried to pass it off as something original.

This was theft. Stealing. Pilfering. Trying to profit from someone else’s work.

It’s also a peek into a future where the stealing of material takes new techno leaps forward.

In comedy, performers have always been and always will “borrow” a few things from each other. As our Toast Boast Roast Comedy comics are aware, as soon as you say something, someone out there can change a word or two and make it their own. It’s a code that the true professionals don’t violate. Maybe a fudge or two here and there, but there is honor among the real deals.

However, with AI now here, there already are numerous “deep fakes” making the rounds on social media, YouTube videos and podcasts. They are nearly imperceptible from the originals, and sometimes, even the performers have trouble telling the difference.

And those fakes will only get better. They will be used by the unscrupulous, the greedy, the crooks who will steal anything they can to make a buck. They will be passed off as “impersonations” when they are stealing original works. They will be shown as “tributes” when they are little more than a heist. They will be performed as “with the permission of the artist” when, in effect, they are doing everything they can to sneak under the stage and get away with it for puns and profit. 

This isn’t about a few jokes or gaga anymore. This is about a creative life blood that is already under attack and being compromised.

It’s why laws and legislation snapping down on AI in certain forms is critical to the future of comedy and other forms of entertainment. Part of that is you, the consumer, refusing to solicit or purchase anything without knowing where it comes from and how it originated. It takes a little work, but it can be done.

Professional comedians are out there every night, busting their ass to bring you laughs and make life a little more entertaining. Support their original work. Don’t purchase anything that you know or suspect to be fake. Take the time to educate yourself on what is out there now and what is on the horizon.

Don’t let the crooks turn you into a sucker.