I tried to get ChatGPT to write jokes. It failed spectacularly.

“chatgpt doing stand up” by Midjourney

You’ve probably heard all about it.

ChatGPT is the latest machine learning bot that’s tearing up the internet (and apparently also passing exams at business schools).

It’s the latest piece of technology that people are going to want to ban, burn, or bury (and not entirely without good reason), but which – let’s face it – is not only likely here to stay, but actually become more prominent as the years go by.

So, with that mindset, I said “what the hell? Let’s give it a spin.”

Only, instead of using it to earn an MBA on the side I wondered what would happen if I asked a bot to try and tell me jokes.

ChatGPT – How Does it Work?

The bot is basically a chatbot.

When you boot it up from OpenAi’s website, you get what is basically a messenger system waiting for a prompt.

You’re then free tot type in whatever you want.

In my case, I started with this:

Tell me a joke that no one has ever heard before

And here’s what the bot gave me in return:

As a language model trained on a vast amount of text, it’s possible that some jokes I generate might have been heard before. But here’s one that might be new:

Why did the scarecrow win an award? Because he was outstanding in his field!


Well, the disclaimer wasn’t really needed. I knew I wasn’t talking to Don Rickles’ ghost here, but how about the joke itself?

Not exactly the most laugh out loud 1-2 out there, and certainly not entirely original either.

A quick Google search confirmed my feeling that I had heard that particular deadbeat, 1950s style joke before.

Forum, after forum, were filled with that setup and punchline.

A solid 1/5 rating. Yes, it was a joke, but no it wasn’t original.

Time for another try:

Make up a new joke

And its reply:

I’m sorry if my previous jokes were not to your liking. As an AI language model, I generate content based on patterns in the data I was trained on, which includes a large number of jokes, puns, and other humor. Here’s a joke that I generated just now, it’s not based on any existing material:

Why did the robot go to the bar? Because it wanted to oil up its circuits!

Well, that was actually surprising. Not the disclaimer, but the “joke.”

I’d certainly never heard it, and apparently neither had the internet. When I searched it, it turned up blank.

Points for originality. Only problem is, it looks like a joke, sounds like a joke, but is it a joke?

I mean, unless “oil up” is slang for “get shitfaced” it’s a bit flat. And not really funny, to be honest, not even in a dad-joke way.

Still – if it did write this without stealing something from a forum, that’s kind of impressive.

I suppose the alternative is that this joke is so bad that even the internet forgot it.

In any case, it also gave me hope that if I pressed it further, it might eventually write a better joke:

Tell me another original not based on existing material

The reply:

Certainly! Here’s another original joke that I generated just now:

Why did the math book look sad? Because it had too many problems!

Hold up.

I know the bot said it generated it just now, but that’s an old one too.

And yep, the internet confirmed I wasn’t crazy. It even found that one listed on a site listing dad jokes.

Dad jokes.

Well, there it is.

ChatGPT is a Dad Joke Generator

Realizing, I was going down a dark road into the kinds of jokes you overhear while camping in Ontario, it was time to switch gears.

This time I wanted it to conjure up Don Rickles’ ghost. If anyone could tell a mean stand-up joke, it was that old bastard:

Give me a joke like don rickles would tell

Perhaps to no one’s surprise, here was the reply:

Don Rickles was a legendary comedian known for his sharp wit and insult humor. Here’s a joke in the style of Don Rickles that I came up with:

Why did the chicken cross the playground? To get to the other slide!

I hope this joke brings a smile to your face!

Well, gotta hand it to the bot for pulling a fast one on me like that. It sets it up like it’ll be the real deal, only to hit me with another savage dad joke.

Honestly, it’s possible Don Rickles told that joke – and if he did, he definitely sprinkled in a few “assholes” along the way.

But even then… not sure if the Wikipedia entry opening was his style either.

A little saddened by my failure of getting a good joke so far, I tried one final time.

It was time to double down.

give me a better one

I made my demand short and sweet. Time for it to take the kiddie gloves off.

The reply:

My apologies, let me try again. Here’s a joke in the style of Don Rickles that I generated:

Why did the scarecrow win an award? Because he was outstanding in his field!

I hope this one is closer to the style of humor you were looking for!

Ah yes, the fabled Don Rickles joke about the award-winning scarecrow.

And worst – already recycling jokes five minutes into the set. Classic.

I guess in a way, ChatGPT is a little limited when it comes to original humour.

But maybe that’s the real joke here – having this dad joke chewing bot take me for a spin.

I hope someone is laughing at least.

By alexander

Drinker of bad wine and writer of many things. Alexander writes fiction, manages a team of SEOs, and dabbles in food history. He also has a Doctorate in North American Religion and Culture and used to teach at Concordia University.