Ever wonder how else the forever-scheming Seymour Skinner of The Simpsons could have played out the famed “steamed hams” situation? Well, AI may have the answer, at least in the form of an incredibly awkward Twitch stream that plays out the main beats of the much-memed episode, but replaces everything else with the strange fever dreams of machine learning programs.
The AI-generated episode take the guise of The Simpsons season 7 episode 22 Short Films About Springfield. Seymour, the principal of Springfield Elementary, hosts his boss, Superintendent Chalmers, over for luncheon. After bungling a roast, Seymour manages to convince Chalmers that all along, he had planned to make “steamed clams” or actually “steamed hams” after he ducked outside his window to grab a heap of hamburgers and fries from the nearby Krusty Burger. Even when the kitchen and entire house catches on fire, Chalmers is none the wiser. Seymour convinces his boss that the flames are just aurora borealis.
The AI-generated Simpsons episode features two low-res 3D models that bear a vague resemblance to their cartoon counterparts. The characters hold their arms out like they’re attempting to take flight as they amble around Seymour’s house. Their voices resemble actors Harry Shearer and Hank Azaria to some extent, but there’s nothing there that would get anyone confused who’s the real actor.
The framework of the AI-generated Simpsons remains the same as cartoon, but the situations are oftentimes even more ludicrous. In one rendition, Skinner prays to “God” to help him add salt and pepper to mask the burnt taste of beans. He then said “I saw a patch of grass outside the window. If only I could find a way to turn it into arugula. Oh God. I’m counting on you to give me the strength and wisdom to turn this grass into arugula.” When Chalmers comments on the grassy not-arugula, Skinner claims the green stuff is a “green bean that has a particular texture and flavour, giving it an arugula-like taste.”
Like Nothing, Forever, UnlimtedSteam has caught the attention of the original showrunners. Bill Oakley, the TV writer and producer who wrote that initial “steamed hams” sketch, tweeted Sunday about the Twitch stream, calling it “truly uncanny.”
This Twitch Stream uses AI to generate a non-stop infinite Steamed Hams sketch and it is truly uncannyhttps://t.co/hzt7ZapSd5
— BILL OAKLEY (@thatbilloakley) February 20, 2023
The stream itself notes it was made using OpenAI’s large language model GPT-3 for the script, Tortoise-tts for the voice, and Unreal Engine 5 for visuals. Episodes themselves can take some time to generate, so the unknown creator wrote they do need to air some reruns from time to time, but in my (don’t tell my boss) hour or so watching the stream, I didn’t experience any repeats.
Nothing, Forever is still suffering a two-week Twitch ban over the AI generating a transphobic joke, so if you’re looking for more surreal humour that can only come from AI pretending to understand comedy, then UnlimitedSteam might tide you over.
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