Generative AI Absurdist Humor

I work full-time as a software engineer. For the last year, I have also taken up teaching part-time for a Full Stack Engineering bootcamp. Unfortunately, that leaves little time for my other semi-pro hobby: writing. I enjoy writing humorous stories. Most of the time, these stories involve some elements of urban fantasy. Think Twilight, but the vampires don’t glitter, the romance isn’t steamy, and the jokes are probably considered juvenile. Wait, don’t think Twilight, that’s pretty horrible and I don’t want associated with that series.

I’m sure you’re asking, “Why urban fantasy? Why Humor?”

I’ve worked in programming/software engineering for 20 years now. I do pretty well in that industry, but I’m not programming the exciting video games or some extremely nifty social media app. I’m currently working at a company that deals with software for cataloging and analyzing data and assets in large corporate environments. In the past, it’s been work with insurance companies, mostly in commercial insurance web applications to help sell new farm lines of business and other associated tools. Office and programming jobs can get boring. It is challenging and fulfilling, but not what the spy would call exhilerating.

So, I write, and when I do get time to write, I love to write genres that I enjoy. For the most part, that means humor so I can be jovial about my topic, and it means some urban fantasy. Like Saturday Night Live where all the characters are cryptids, supernatural entities, mythological gods and monsters, etc. I like to think I’m decent with it, because I have completed a couple of novels and some other stories, shameless plug: there are links to them on my homepage.

Lately, with so much work, I’d been stuck in a rut. I had an idea the other day when I was out for a run. I oftentimes have strange ideas when I’m out to get a quick workout in by running a 5k in my small town, and this one was certainly odd. I’m working on a book right now and this wasn’t an idea for a complete arc of story content, but more a running gag. The story is to take place in current times, and a character enjoys watching overly dramatic Latin American tele-novella programs.

One of the programs the character frequents is called, “Comrade Padre!” It would be a tele-novella about a dashing young priest in areas of Mexico ran by corruption and cartels, spreading the gospels along with teaching Marxism to the local youth. Yes, I understand the concept of a religious leader spreading communist propaganda is an oxymoron, but that’s the absurdist part of humor.

On to the generative part. I’ve been wanting to tinker more with AI kind of stuff and had only dabbled in it. To give myself a bit of inspiration for my own story lines, and to help with some Spanish translations, I tried out asking ChatGPT 4 to create a snippet of that story for me. Let me preface this with saying, I’m not intending to use this directly in a novel, more for inspiration and the comedy. I had tinkered with ChatGPT 3 earlier this year and found the fiction it generated pretty… pretty rotten. See if you think this got any better.

The Prompts

Initial prompt to ChatGPT and its interesting confirmation.

To start with, I gave ChatGPT a prompt to ask it how I wanted it to respond. Which was, “For this session, I want you to respond as though you’re writing for an overly dramatic Latin American Tele-novella. Can you do that?”

As you can see in the image above, the response made me curious as to what else I could expect next.

My second prompt was going to be the real quest. The trick with the AI prompts apparently is to try to be specific about parts you want to match explicitly. So I wrote my second prompt like this:

I want you to describe a pair of scenes to a tele-novella playing on a screen in the background. The show will be called Comrade Padre. It is about a priest in Michoacan. The priest is a massive advocate of communism and is trying to explain seizing the means of production while some teenage boys help him organize a bake sale. He is going into great detail how revolution is sometimes necessary, even though the boys question the violent means, to assert the rights of the worker against the ruling class. They seem to learn from the priest as the scene changes to them leading an armed rebellion of teenagers to violently take control of a cocaine processing plant from the local cartel. In the story, please provide the dialog in terms of he said, he replied, he asked etc. Also make sure all dialog is in a local dialect of Spanish with translations in parenthesis. Don’t forget that the description of the priest should be ravishing and dangerous, but also dark and handsome with a local nun spying on him while arranging cakes during the bake sale portion. This whole story should take be roughly between 500 and 1000 words. 

The response was … inspiring to say the least.

The Generated Story

Dall-E prompt: Can you make a comic book style picture of a Latin American catholic priest that is a massive advocate of communism with his face painted for Dias de la muerte

In the sultry and sun-drenched streets of Michoacán, the latest episode of “Comrade Padre” plays on a television screen, captivating viewers with its blend of revolutionary zeal and melodramatic flair.

Scene 1:

The camera focuses on Padre Alejandro, a priest whose dark, brooding eyes hint at a stormy past. His ruggedly handsome features are softened by a tender smile as he addresses a group of earnest teenage boys. They are surrounded by a cornucopia of baked goods, the sweet aroma mingling with the fervor of their discussion.

Padre Alejandro, with a voice as smooth as velvet, explains, “La revolución es como el pan que horneamos, esencial para nutrir al pueblo” (“The revolution is like the bread we bake, essential to nourish the people”). His hands, rough from labor, gesture passionately as he speaks of class struggle and workers’ rights.

One of the boys, Carlos, with eyes full of youthful hope yet shadowed by doubt, asks, “¿Pero Padre, la violencia es el único camino?” (“But Father, is violence the only way?”). The priest’s response is cut by the sight of Hermana Lucia, a local nun. She moves gracefully, her habit rustling softly as she arranges cakes. Unbeknownst to Padre Alejandro, her gaze lingers on him, filled with a tumultuous mix of admiration and concern.

As the conversation deepens, Padre Alejandro’s tone becomes more fervent. “A veces, para construir un nuevo mundo, debemos luchar contra los opresores” (“Sometimes, to build a new world, we must fight against the oppressors”), he declares. The boys listen, spellbound, as the seeds of revolution are sown in their hearts.

Scene 2:

Carlos, now transformed into a charismatic leader, shouts, “¡Por el pueblo, por nuestra libertad!” (“For the people, for our freedom!”). The young rebels move with surprising efficiency, their actions fueled by the teachings of Padre Alejandro.

The scene shifts dramatically. Now, the same group of teenagers, led by Carlos, is seen storming a cocaine processing plant. Their faces are set in determination, a stark contrast to the innocence of the bake sale. The air is thick with tension and the acrid smell of gunpowder.

Gunshots ring out, echoing across the compound as the teenagers clash with the cartel members. It’s a David versus Goliath battle, but the fire of youth and conviction burns bright in the rebels’ eyes.

Back at the bake sale, Padre Alejandro, unaware of the unfolding events, continues his impassioned speech to a new group of teenagers. Hermana Lucia watches him, her eyes reflecting a storm of emotions – fear for what she suspects is happening, admiration for the man who inspires such bravery, and a deep, unspoken love.

The camera pans out, leaving the viewers in suspense. Will the teenagers succeed in their daring endeavor? What will become of Padre Alejandro’s revolutionary teachings? And what of Hermana Lucia’s secret affection? The screen fades to black, leaving these questions hanging in the air like the scent of freshly baked bread and gunpowder.

“Comrade Padre” continues to blur the lines between rebellion and righteousness, love and duty, leaving its audience eagerly awaiting the next episode.


My early endeavors at seeing what kind of fiction ChatGPT would generate were pretty bad. I’m sure it’s a combination of writing a better prompt and some advances in the software offerings for Generative AI that made the latest attempt better. The results are not something I would just copy and paste directly into a novel, but they were pretty funny. It may even be worth asking for multiple iterations of the example story to see what else the software will generate.

Overall, the story is not bad. It came out to just over 500 words. It did manage to not only get my required elements and story points, but also fill enough cheesy dramatizations to be a humorous caricature of tele-novella style soap operas. There are a lot of things to consider before quitting your day job to use Gen-AI to write novels for you. For instance, the story will never be as good as one created by a real person. For another, the contents may not be copyright safe. There are legal aspects of using AI generated writing that are still very shaky. Two things are for sure, I now have a good and inspiring starting point for “Comrade Padre” and I got a good laugh from the exercise.

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