A doctor and an AI walk into a bar …

3 minute read

Large language models in medicine need to be used with caution, especially when you’re asking them to be funny.

Since childhood I’ve been captivated by the elusive concept of humour.  

What makes something funny? Why do people laugh? What exact ingredients are needed to construct a joke? 

More recently, I’ve pondered whether large language models powered by artificial intelligence could crack the code and create a comedy routine for human entertainment.

After surviving an unexpected mudpocalypse at Burning Man this year, I found myself back in Sydney, surrounded by a mountain of muddy laundry. In desperate need of a morale boost, I turned to ChatGPT with an unusual request: “Pretend to be a family doctor (general practitioner) and write a comedy show routine.” 

What follows is the self-professed AI-powered comedic masterpiece, tailor-made for the Back Page. But has AI cracked the code for human humour? Judge for yourself …  

A person in a white coat holding a microphone

Description automatically generated

Pic by Midjourney. AI art generators are getting better at fingers but they’re still confused by stethoscopes.

“Ladies and gentlemen, gather ’round, because it’s time for a dose of laughter from your favorite family doctor! I might not have a stethoscope around my neck right now, but I promise my prescription for humour is just what the funny bone ordered. 
“You know, being a family doctor is a bit like being a detective. Patients come in with mysterious symptoms and Google-generated diagnoses. I’ve had people walk in convinced they have a rare tropical disease after a weekend getaway to the local water park! 
“And let’s talk about waiting rooms. It’s like a social experiment in there. You’ve got the patient who’s convinced they’re next in line and keeps inching closer to the reception desk, practically sitting on it. Then there’s the one who brought their entire extended family, plus a pet iguana, for moral support. 
“Now, don’t get me started on medical jargon. Ever notice how doctors have a secret language? We’re like wizards with our ‘medical spells’. I mean, try explaining ‘gastroesophageal reflux disease’ to someone without sounding like you’re reciting an incantation. 
“And speaking of magical moments, who here has had the pleasure of diagnosing a ‘self-made’ patient via Dr. Google? They’ve already decided they have a rare condition, printed out a stack of research papers, and insist on a treatment plan that involves yoga, crystals, and chanting to the moon. 
“But you know what? Despite all the quirks and challenges, being a family doctor is the best job in the world. We get to make people feel better, we get free access to all those crinkly gowns, and let’s not forget the endless supply of tongue depressors for impromptu sword fights. 
“In the end, my job is like a comedy routine itself – full of surprises, characters, and unforgettable moments. So, remember, laughter is the best medicine, but if you still need a real prescription, I’ve got you covered! 
“Thank you, and remember to schedule your annual check-up – because a little laughter is good for the heart, but so is a healthy heart!” 

Send story tips and remedies for split sides to penny@medicalrepublic.com.au 

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