Have you heard the one about the American football player who tries standup comedy?
After Tom Brady’s deadpan appearance in the February film 80 for Brady, rumors swirled that the NFL legend might try standup. His recent divorce, second pro football retirement and forthcoming commitment to a televised comedy roast made the prospect seem believable enough.
Will Sasso and Chad Kultgen, co-hosts of the popular Dudesy podcast, had similar reactions to those of many others. “He really has lost his mind,” said Sasso. “I thought, ‘All right, this is a midlife crisis.’”
Dudesy is an improvisational humor podcast entirely run by AI. Sasso and Kultgen co-hosted a show called Ten Minute Podcast for years, before a tech company they definitely cannot name approached them with the idea of reformatting their odd-couple dynamic around a bot that would be part performer, part producer and all powerful. Dudesy might tell Will to read a news list it had aggregated in the voice of Hulk Hogan, or assign both hosts to see 80 for Brady so they could discuss it on mic.
The upside is it takes all the legwork out of production. The downside is that Dudesy is incredibly invasive: it draws from its human hosts’ emails, texts, social media accounts, and browsing and purchasing histories. It can also call back the hosts’ expansive work, from Sasso’s memorable turn as Tony Soprano in MadTV’s “edited-for-network TV” version of the mob drama, to Kultgen’s long-forgotten feature script called Pizza: The Movie, which is exactly what it sounds like. “We just show up, and it starts talking to us,” Kultgen says. “And we do what it says or don’t do what it says. That’s basically it. We’re in there for an hour and a half and then leave.”
When Dudesy prompted the co-hosts to talk about Brady doing standup, they had plenty to consider. “There are other football players, super famous ones in some cases, who have gone on to pursue comedic careers – like OJ Simpson,” said Kultgen on the 28 March episode. “[Brady’s] not someone who’s known for being a funny person, and now he thinks he can do this if he outworks everybody.”
Sasso and Kultgen figured they had said all there was to say about Brady reversing field from a record $375m payday at Fox Sports, and they moved on to other subjects. But not long after that episode, they returned to their LA studio and were surprised by an hour-long YouTube simulation of the Goat QB, aka Brady, doing standup that was independently generated by the Dudesy AI.
“We don’t know how it put that shit together,” says Kultgen.
Aptly titled It’s Too Easy, the set opens with an introduction from Dudesy, who explains that the special was created from “thousands of hours of Tom Brady interviews and hundreds of thousands of hours of standup comedy to generate the first simulated hour-long standup”.
The final product – delivered in Brady’s trademark monotone and legitimately hysterical despite the pacing being off-kilter – is spooky to say the least. It accurately references football highlights and lowlights. (“Someone sent me a message on Bumble saying, ‘You look just like Tom Brady.’ I said, ‘I am Tom Brady.’ She said, ‘Prove it.’ So I went to her house and let a little air out of all her footballs.”) Punchlines at his own expense abound. (“People say, ‘Tom, that wasn’t really acting [in 80 for Brady]. You were just playing yourself. Not much of a stretch.’ But it was harder than people realize because I wasn’t just playing myself. I had to play myself with a winning record … Method acting. Sorry, Bucs fans; I had to go there.”) As the simulation delivers verbal jabs, a slideshow of AI-generated images of Brady plays.
The hosts released the first 12 minutes of the special along with that week’s episode, and it quickly made the rounds in the sports world. “There was a couple of interesting Tom Bradys in there,” the all-pro punter turned chat show host Pat McAfee said of the AI-generated images of the future hall-of-famer.
“I thought it was pretty good,” the ex-cornerback Pacman Jones said of the snippet he saw. “It sounded damn near right on to me.”
Earlier Dudesy episodes take big swings at cross-pollinating synthetic comedy – prompting Sasso to impersonate Robert De Niro as a crow, say. But the Brady special is the most perfect synergy of human with machine yet. “Tom Brady is kind of a cyborg,” Sasso says.
But then there are moments when Brady sounds too robotic. “It has this bit where he’s talking about money,” Kultgen says. “And he just lists like 100 fucking slang terms for money, machine gun-style.”
In the Brady special, Dudesy seems to just be riffing along with its nimble-minded hosts. But instead of building on a funny premise for a minute or so, it takes the kernel of an idea and fully fleshes it out.
Still, in its infinite quest for material, the AI can reach too far. Once, Sasso says, “it got footage from my cellphone when it wasn’t recording and then played it on the show. And I was like: I think this is actually beyond the bounds of our actual contract.”
It isn’t so much the comedy that’s divisive about It’s Too Easy; it’s what it portends for creative professionals. “We are on a whole new horizon of copyright law,” Kultgen says. “It’s basically dead at this point. Within the next three-ish years, I think everyone is going to have media tailor-made to their preferences with whoever they want talking or acting in it – and an AI will just shit it out perpetually.”
There’s nothing stopping Dudesy or AIs like it from crafting content around other prominent voices and cutting the actual humans out of the process entirely. For Sasso, a master impressionist, the prospects are daunting indeed. “It’s like, do you want steak [from the cow] or lab-grown meat?” he says. “It just makes me terrified for the future that Dudesy could do this with Tom Brady.”
If It’s Too Easy turns out not to be a tough act to follow, it could be that it’s us humans who are left fumbling. “I would hate it in 15 years for there to be a standup comedian named AI Smith who has specials like Every Dick Joke, Ever,” Sasso says. “And it’s an Avatar-length, three-hour barrage. It could blow up comedy. The live studio audience sound isn’t people laughing and clapping. It’s screaming and screaming until someone’s head explodes.”
( Information from politico.com was used in this report. Also if you have any problem of this article or if you need to remove this articles, please email here and we will delete this immediately. [email protected] )