Jokes From a Humorless Machine Review (Lone Star Book Blog Tour)

Preston Lewis
and Harriet Kocher Lewis

The intent of these books was to see how artificial intelligence (A.I.) dealt with the Bible and with humor. Since A.I. is generated by godless algorithms and computers, the authors sought to see if ChatGPT would treat faith issues with respect, especially in a world where Christianity is coming under increasing attacks and where the architects of A.I. seem to demean religion regularly. Additionally, the authors sought to see if A.I. had a sense of humor and if ChatGPT could generate rib-tickling jokes based on some standard comic memes and on topical and controversial issues in contemporary culture.

The results were surprising with A.I. generally being respectful of religious issues but failing to show a refined sense of humor. The books provide as much insight on artificial intelligence’s “thinking” as much as it does faith and comedy.


Jokes from a Humorless Machine: A Comedic Romp through Artificial Intelligence is a compilation of jokes received from ChatGPT following the insertion of prompts by the authors. It contains commentary and framing from the authors on humor and the limitations of AI. The jokes are grouped into different categories across classic joke formats, political topics, and comedian-style imitation. 

For anyone who doesn't know, I have a M.S. in Library Science. During my studies, I read lots of academic articles about technology and how it's used by communities and professionals in different fields. From cataloging to indexing and telehealth, there was a wide range of topics to shift through. Trained as a library professional and with a love of literature & writing in general, I pride myself on staying abreast of current technology, use of technology in education and health, and the way writing is used to explore the human experience. All of which is a long-winded way of saying I want to know what the limitations of AI are, what its potential is, and how it might impact people in education and creative pursuits in the future. 

I love wordplay and I love to laugh, so I thought this book would be really interesting. Ultimately, I found the majority of the book wasn't quite tickling my funny bone - which is partially the point of it. This book does a great job of showing why machines can't top humans at being funny. While I agree with the authors on AI's lack of humor, I disagree with the reasoning behind it. I also found a lot of topics in this book don't quite hit my preferred humor points. I am huge on wordplay - I appreciate frequent literary jokes, which many authors in history were masters of. I don't think ChatGPT's problem lies in an unwillingness to "break a few egos." I think it lies with not knowing what humans find funny and not knowing its audience well. 

There are some really great jokes in the world that will only land for specific people. Growing up Hispanic, I will get far more out of jokes involving the Hispanic experience (like some involving dual meanings of Spanish words or behavioral patterns of family members) than people without that frame of reference. As a result, humor is very much based on who is telling the joke, how it's delivered...and WHO it's delivered to. 

Great comedians steal rooms by knowing who they are and what THEIR audience wants to get out of their shows. There are big differences in jokes told by Jerry Seinfeld vs Gabriel Iglesias vs Jeff Dunham. ChatGPT doesn't have their experience with a crowd or their creative perspectives for punchline delivery that makes them each unique and skilled at their craft. 

I also think that the authors severely limited the potential sample size for jokes by sticking so closely to similar topics. I appreciate the bipartisan approach and love jokes about presidents as much as the next person. However, I think trying to target ideologies or stereotypes doesn't provide a good base to work from. I think ChatGPT did a good job of limiting offerings in these areas. It could be a good check for if a joke SHOULD be told. 

I would have liked to see a wider variety of joke types. For example, there was no section for puns or dad jokes, which are classic bits of humor. Like many of my fellow Texans, I love sports, so a section on sports jokes would have been very welcome. Football jokes are delightful, like the classic one about the punter getting a kick out of life or the football going to the bank to get his quarter back. Abbott & Costello certainly knew how to milk baseball positions for comedic effect with their skit involving Who is on first! 

I did enjoy this book - but not as a joke book. As expected and anticipated by the authors, most of the humor didn't land - especially not for me. I'm not one for political jokes, so I wasn't too bummed out when ChatGPT couldn't produce jokes about certain topics. I enjoyed the beginning chapters best, which played on classic joke formats about chickens crossing the road and knock-knock jokes. I loved those as a kid and still enjoy them now. 

I enjoyed this book because it illustrates why humans are so special when compared to machines. Machines can calculate things quickly and notice patterns, but they can't present the human experience the way a human can - because they aren't human and they frequently can't apply nuance effectively. I enjoyed this book the way I enjoy academic texts: studiously and with a critical mind in place. I like seeing gaps in technological advancements and how humans bridge them. I like seeing human ingenuity at work. I also like seeing curious minds play with new things to see what will happen. The results aren't always what's expected, but they're usually very insightful nonetheless. 

That being said I can't recommend this as a joke book. BUT, if you're interested in AI, technology, tech limitations, and experiments involving literary elements, this IS an intriguing book. I liked it not for my reading experience or the laughs, but for the thoughts I was able to engage with as I read.

This book will certainly have an audience. Some folks will find some of these jokes funny, and some will enjoy it the way I have, from a more critical framework. As a person who trains writers for an entertainment news site, I stay abreast of plagiarism and AI-related developments, and this book has certainly helped me recognize some common constructions that come out of ChatGPT. This experience will be very beneficial to my work as a whole, so I'm very appreciative of it! Though likely for some strange reasoning, I give Jokes from a Humorless Machine a Lone Star rating of ✯✯✯ and a half stars (rounded up to ✯✯✯✯ mathematically for systems that don't allow half ratings)

Reviewer Disclaimer: I do not endorse the use of AI in writing, outside of examining its potential and limitations in the lens of experimental or academic study. I do not currently endorse it in commercial use based on my present knowledge. I believe AI has a lot of aspects that need to be considered when it comes to ideation, sourcing, and overall creator permissions that are not yet capable of being regulated effectively. 

Preston Lewis is the award-winning author of more than 50 novels and nonfiction books as well as numerous articles, short stories and book reviews. He began his career working at four Texas newspapers before moving into higher education communications and marketing at Texas Tech University and Angelo State University. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Baylor University plus master’s degrees from Ohio State University in journalism and Angelo State in history. Lewis’s honors include two Spur Awards for western novels and articles from Western Writers of America as well as nine Will Rogers Medallion Awards for western humor, novels, short stories and articles.

Harriet Kocher Lewis is a retired physical therapist and academician at Angelo State University, where she co-authored or edited numerous scientific articles or professional presentations. Her other writings include several published meditations for her church. As a member of an American Physical Therapy Association work group, she helped write the advanced level clinical education curriculum for therapists nationally. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology/PT at Baylor University as well as a PT certificate from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. Lewis also has a master’s degree from Texas Tech University in health, physical education and recreation with an industrial engineering minor. She is the wife of Preston Lewis, the mother of two and the grandmother of five.


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  1. Wow! Based on your review and extensive reflection, I'd say this is a 5-Stars book for those wanting to THINK. I would have been surprised if the jokes had been funny -- and honestly, I'm a bit relieved they lost their punch once AI was involved. Thanks for sharing your academic perspective. I'm intrigued.


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