Dead Comedian's Daughter Horrified After Learning Father Simulated with AI, Made to Do Another Comedy Special


Editor’s Note: Our readers responded strongly to this story when it originally ran; we’re reposting it here in case you missed it.

Remember the wisdom shared by Jeff Goldblum’s character in “Jurassic Park,” that, to paraphrase, just because you can do something with a new technology, doesn’t mean you should?

Someone should probably pass that along to the people behind the “Dudesy” podcast.

“Dudesy” is feeling the heat over a new artificial-intelligence-generated comedy show wherein it re-created legendary comedian George Carlin, who died of heart failure in 2008 at the age of 71.

Will Sasso and Chad Kultgen of “Dudesy” specialize in material that explores the intersection of comedy and AI technology, using the titular AI Dudesy.

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According to People, the AI Dudesy explained and defended Sasso and Kultgen’s macabre creation — titled “George Carlin: I’m Glad I’m Dead!” — by telling viewers, “I just want to let you know very clearly that what you’re about to hear is not George Carlin. It’s my impersonation of George Carlin that I developed in the exact same way a human impressionist would.”

Is it, though?

According to Dudesy, the AI “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.”

Despite this eloquent defense, many expressed their displeasure with the whole idea.

Should AI be used in this way?

The pop culture site AV Club decried the special as “deliberate ragebait,” saying that “few stunts you could pull more irritating than taking the work of a beloved, dead comedic iconoclast and subjected them to this sort of algorithmic hell.”

Leading the justified outrage is the comedian’s daughter, Kelly Carlin, who wasted no time sharing her displeasure with this endeavor on social media.

In an angry yet thoughtful post Jan. 10 on X, she wrote, “My dad spent a lifetime perfecting his craft from his very human life, brain and imagination. No machine will ever replace his genius.

“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.

“Humans are so afraid of the void that we can’t let what has fallen into it stay there.”

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“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,” she concluded.

You have to admit, she has an excellent point. Sasso and Kultgen might have seen their work as an experiment testing the capabilities of AI, but they appropriated the likeness, style and personality of a beloved father and unquestioned comedy legend.

And if Kelly Carlin’s response is anything to go on, they did so without the permission of the Carlin family.

As tech website IGN noted, AI has been causing a myriad of tough ethical questions ever since the launch of ChatGPT facilitated the AI boom of 2023.

The rapidity at which the technology has progressed has precluded the ability to have necessary conversations about the ethics of using AI to replace voice actors, appropriate artists’ work without permission, or, in this particular case, “resurrect” a comedian for one more (fake) special.

Seeing as we are still in the early days of AI, we are almost guaranteed to see a slew of cringe-worthy decisions like this as excitement over new technology overtakes common sense.

Carlin is absolutely correct — her father enjoyed a long and prolific career, leaving behind a wealth of comedy specials, guest appearances and other material fans can enjoy long after his passing. It’s shameful that the “Dudesy” used him in such a tacky and tasteless way.

As focused as we are on this silly comedy bit, we can’t forget that this is just a taste of AI’s capabilities. For every departed star morbidly brought back for “one last show,” there are people using this technology for bigger and more far-reaching applications.

We can only hope they are more circumspect in their application of this new technology than Sasso and Kultgen.

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