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AI in Comedy: How this Indian-origin comedian in New York is bringing fresh perspectives to the stage

AI in Comedy: How this Indian-origin comedian in New York is bringing fresh perspectives to the stage
Years ago, artificial intelligence (AI) was an abstract concept in our minds, confined to the brightest technological minds across the world. Today, it’s everywhere, in our work, in our conversations, and even in the art we all enjoy.

But can it find its place in the art of live comedy?

As the boundaries of art and technology blur with AI, young talents are continually pushing the limits of innovation. Among these trailblazers is Aman Chopra, a comedian, podcaster, and public speaking coach based in New York City.

The beauty of AI in comedy is its ability to take the mundane and twist it into something unexpected. It’s like having the brainpower of a comedy writer (minus the need for coffee breaks and existential crises).

Exploring New Possibilities in Comedy
Aman’s curiosity about the symbiotic relationship between AI and humans in live comedic performances began with two innovative performances that explored the intersection of AI and comedy. The first was an AI vs. human comedian roast battle, a collaboration with ComedyBytes—a pioneering team in AI-generated comedy.

In this show, Aman faced off against an AI rendition of Jerry Seinfeld, with jokes generated by ChatGPT based on information provided about Aman. While human comedians excel in quick wit and spatial awareness, AI Seinfeld demonstrated a unique resilience, unfazed by the quality of its jokes, since it cannot feel an audience’s reaction like a human can. Despite Aman’s victory, the close battle highlighted AI’s potential to create humor despite having a very basic understanding of joke structure.

The second show pushed boundaries further by allowing ChatGPT to perform in real-time. “I designed an improv show where the AI engaged in crowd work, interacting with the audience through text-to-speech and speech-to-text technologies,” says Aman. However, the experiment underscored AI’s limitations in live performance. Technical delays and the inability to read the room led to a "bombed" show, akin to a comedian struggling with a broken microphone or simply not making the audience laugh,” he recounts.

AI in live comedy poses intriguing questions about creativity and originality. Can a machine truly understand the nuances of human humor? Can it feel the aura of a comedy club like a human comedian can? Perhaps, instead of replacing comedians, AI will become a tool to enhance their routines, brainstorm ideas, and refine jokes. In this sense, AI isn’t stealing the spotlight but rather shining a new light on the art and artists who make people laugh.

Aman’s Journey of Experimentation with Comedy
Originally from Mumbai, Aman moved to the U.S. to pursue a Master’s degree in engineering at NYU, where he honed his skills in emerging media technologies within entertainment and production. Aman immersed himself in the realms of augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed realities. However, it was the burgeoning field of artificial intelligence (AI) in entertainment that truly captured his imagination.

“Midway through my degree, the first public launch of OpenAI’s DALL-E—a groundbreaking image generation AI—sparked my fascination with real-time art creation. I began to ponder its potential impact on live comedy as I was interested in standup as an authentic expressive art form. Shortly thereafter, the introduction of ChatGPT further revolutionized easy access to AI technology. I realized that AI’s capabilities could extend far beyond being mere supplements in live comedy; they had the potential to operate as performers themselves,” explains Aman.

As he delved deeper into stand-up comedy, he observed how AI, when spoken to, responded with human-like interactions. Despite challenges in the initial sets, Aman’s experiments revealed that, with human guidance, AI can indeed be funny. ComedyBytes’ live shows around New York have consistently showcased AI's comedic potential, even as human oversight remains crucial. Aman’s journey underscores the evolving role of AI in comedy, where technology and human creativity coalesce to push the boundaries of the art form.

Aman has demonstrated that a unique blend of comedic talent, public speaking prowess, and engineering expertise can open exciting frontiers. His ongoing collaborations with organizations like ComedyBytes are paving the way for AI to discover its niche in the comedy world. As AI technology advances and the skills of comedians like Aman continue to flourish, the future of live comedy promises to be an intriguing blend of human and artificial intelligence.


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