Alan Alda and Mike Farrell Perform New M*A*S*H Scene Written By a Chatbot


The latest installment of Alan Alda’s podcast Clear+Vivid with Alan Alda includes a brand new scene from M*A*S*H, written by ChatGPT, a chatbot powered by artificial intelligence. Alda invited Mike Farrell to join him in performing the scene, jokingly calling it a table read like in the old days.

After the two read the scene, Alda tells Farrell how he gave ChatGPT a specific premise and asked the chatbot to “make it funny” which resulted in “really stupid stuff.” Alda explained that ChatGPT went through many iterations. He made cuts and shifted parts around “but every word we spoke just now was written down by the machine.”

Farrell was unnerved by the experience. “Well, the idea of artificial intelligence taking over what is an industry that’s fundamentally creative out of the human mind and the human spirit. Yes, I understand they can parrot the human mind but I can’t imagine if they can ever come close to parroting the human spirit.”

“I remember when we’d get stuck with a scene that seemed like it needed a little goosing up we’d call Larry Gelbart and he’d come over on his bicycle. Talk about another time, another place. Instead of a bicycle now, at the speed of light.”

I’ve embedded the podcast below. Skip to 23:00 to hear the segment with the new M*A*S*H scene.

Here’s a transcript of the new scene:

Hawkeye: “Where are they? My shorts.”

B.J.: “Your what?”

Hawkeye: “My shorts. The ones I wear every time I have important surgery. I know you took them.”

B.J.: “I wouldn’t be caught dead in your underwear.”

Hawkeye: “They’re not just underwear. They’re comfortable and I like wearing them and they’re missing.”

B.J.: “Oh, you mean your lucky shorts.”

Hawkeye: “They’re not lucky. I don’t believe in that nonsense.”

B.J.: “Like the time you insisted on wearing the same pair of socks for a week because you won a game of poker in them?”

Hawkeye: “I am not superstitious! Those are just my normal, everyday shorts.”

B.J.: “Right. Just like the time you made everyone walk backward around the O.R. to ward off bad luck.”

Hawkeye: “That was a joke! I can’t believe you’re taking that seriously. I am not superstitious. And those are just my normal everyday shorts. I wear them because they inspire me and they remind me of my grandmother.

B.J.: “Your grandmother wore your lucky shorts?”

Hawkeye: “They remind me of my grandmother because she used to call them her little secret weapon. I’m still not sure what that means. B.J., stealing someone’s underwear is a serious offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.”

B.J.: “Oh, really? The Uniform Code of Military Justice protects the possession of underwear?”

Hawkeye: “Yes. And for good reason. Private property is a fundamental right in our democracy and that includes undergarments.”

B.J.: “I had no idea it was so important to our nation’s defense.”

Hawkeye: “It’s not just about defense. It’s about dignity and the right to personal property. If we don’t respect the sanctity of undergarments, what do we have left?”

B.J.: “I respect that, Hawkeye. And I promise I won’t go digging around in anyone’s underwear drawer without a warrant.”

You can listen to Clear+Vivid with Alan Alda at Stitcher, iHeart, Apple Podcasts, and anywhere else you find podcasts.

(via The New York Times)

2 Replies to “Alan Alda and Mike Farrell Perform New M*A*S*H Scene Written By a Chatbot”

  1. Nothing worse than what the writers of the last three seasons could have done, in my opinion.

  2. In my view, it’s not too bad. It would depend on how the scene was played by AA and MF circa their late 1970’s energy.

    Presumably the scene was in The Swamp and could have fitted in to an episode in which nothing particular or tragic happened.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.