Award-winning comedian and viral TikTok sensation Anesti Danelis joins us on Close-Up Culture to talk about his highly anticipated new show, Artificially Intelligent.
Inspired by the artificial intelligence that will one day rule us all, Artificially Intelligent is a comedy concert of Anesti Danelis’ critically acclaimed songs. Audiences will be bopping along to songs about bisexual revenge, catfishing, robots, hookups, a much needed (satirical) straight pride anthem, and more.
Artificially intelligence is one of the most pressing and widely discussed topics of the moment. Can you tell us about your relationship with AI?
It’s complicated. We’re not exclusive but we really like each other.
I’m fascinated with AI. It’s everywhere right now. The technology is advancing so fast, and it will surpass human intelligence in a few years, and yet we still haven’t put guidelines or laws around it’s capabilities. Within seconds it can synthesise our voices, it can help create deep fake videos, and also robots are now doing parkour. The terminator movie is turning out to be more of a documentary about the future at this point.
Though, when you’re not catastrophizing about the fall of the human race, AI can be fun to play around with. It’s exciting for music production, and it’s making producing music, photo and video editing, more financially accessible. It’s helping a lot of creators make art right in their homes.
What inspired your new show, Artificially Intelligent?
It started when I was playing around with ChatGPT. I was impressed that it could do so many things like craft a cover letter, or a press release, and I thought: what about a show? I prompted it to write me a musical comedy outline with 12 songs, and boom! Within seconds, it just gave me 12 songs and their premises. Most of the premises were terrible, but a handful were really good, and this technology will only get better.
Then I came across this video of a content creator showing people how they don’t have to think about making content anymore and that they can just prompt ChatGPT to make them quotes to post for the month, and then that made me think about the content I was consuming. Was anything that I was reading real, or was it made by an AI? We follow certain creators who we want to hear from, but is the future just going to be humans engaging with content made from an AI? To that point, why are people even making content if they have nothing to say? Is anything genuine, or is it all a deep fake?
Then the flood gates opened and in came the ideas, the themes, sci-fi inspiration, etc. and I wanted to work towards a show that explored feeling lost and inauthentic in our lives. I mean, we all feel lost occasionally and we’re just learning as we go, just like AI.
What was your creative process like for creating this show?
For this show I mixed my usual process with AI tech. Usually I write songs and standup and after a few months, a theme emerges and then I run towards that. This time around I tried prompting ChatGPT asking it to give me some premises about technology, bisexuality, the human experience, pet peeves, etc, and I used it for inspiration. Then I began writing, and naturally those premises changed into something that was more unique to my voice and experience. For example, one idea ChatGPT suggested was “the endless scroll: a fun and hilarious song about how hard it is to stop scrolling and be disconnected” and after playing around with that inspiration, I wrote a song about doom scrolling and about the rabbit hole we fall into late at night. This song ultimately goes from watching videos, to stalking your ex online, to getting scammed by a bot (it makes more sense in the show).
I even opened up my creative process by incorporating my life as a content creator. I have this series called “Sunday Confessionals” where my audience can send in anonymous deep dark secrets, and I grabbed the best ones and turned them into a song for the show.
After the songs are written, I test them out at shows and the audience lets me know what’s funny and what needs more work through their laughs or no laughs. And then thematically I just listen to a bunch of music and movies that fit with the theme to pinpoint an artistic direction.
Can you tell us about some of the songs that are featured in the show?
One of my fav new songs in the show is a song I wrote last year after a weird date, that I randomly found again when brainstorming this new show. It’s about going back home with someone after a date and wondering if they’re going to murder you, but not leaving because you don’t want to be rude. Obviously I wasn’t in any danger, but it pokes fun at how paranoid our minds can get at any given moment and start justifying your story by what’s in the environment. I just noticed a box of wigs and a camera on a tripod and was like “this is it for me. Bye bye world.”
Another song is my Sunday Confessional song where I take the best anonymous confessions that my audiences gave me online and turn them into a song. I’m going to project the confessions on the wall behind me as I play too. These confessions are wild, and both my audience and I are always surprised by them. I can’t wait to see a live audience’s reaction to them.
There is a song about all of the crazy rumours I have heard about me, there is a traditional Greek song on the violin about GOATS, there’s a song about bisexual revenge and what happens when you break a bi man’s heart (he bangs both your parents), and a very satirical straight pride anthem – which is one of my favourite things to play. There’s lots packed into this hour, so you should, like…. come see it.
What type of experience can audiences expect from Artificially Intelligent?
This show is a ridiculously fun concert packed with funny original songs set to great music that pokes fun at our identities, and all of the cringy things we do online. Expect an hour of musical stand up comedy, with multimedia elements. If you’re a fan of Flight of the Conchords or the Lonely Island, then this kind of show is right up your alley. I even brought on the super talented lighting designer Justine Cargo who is going to make the whole experience look super epic.
What are your hopes for Artificially Intelligent?
I hope to have the best time debuting this show at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre on June 3rd. I’ve tested the material around Toronto, and it’s been really well received, and I’m excited for everyone to see the full version.
For the future of the show, I’m going to tour it next year and bring it to some festivals as well. I’m going to continue shaping up the show and adding some new songs, even more tech and multimedia elements and I will also round out the artistic direction further. I’m thinking retro-futurism: The Weeknd’s Dawn FM/Black Eye Peas when they had that green talking head/Daft Punk/ Disco Funk, etc. You should see my pinterest board. I’m very excited to see how this show will look next year.
But for right now, I’m touring my previous show This Show Will Change Your Life to Winnipeg, Edinburgh, and Vancouver (this July to September). So if you happen to be in those areas, check out anestidanelis.com for more info, and come say goodbye to that show with me.
See Artificially Intelligent – Anesti Danelis: Artificially Intelligent — Buddies in Bad Times Theatre
Follow Anesti on TikTok – Anesti Danelis (@anestidanelis) | TikTok