Tom Brady Threatens Lawsuit Over AI Comedy Special Video

A Tom Brady AI stand up special prompted a legal response from the NFL legend.

By Jonathan Klotz | Updated

Tom Brady has finally retired from the NFL and is into next phase of his career: stand-up comedian. Most retired football stars become analysts or actors, but Brady wants to be up on stage and get people to laugh with him, just not at him, as two professional comedians discovered recently. TMZ reports that Will Sasso and Chad Kultgen were threatened over their sharing of a Tom Brady AI video making fun of the greatest NFL player of all time.

The two comedians posted the Tom Brady AI comedy special on their Patreon page, available only to subscribers, so it’s not like they went directly to YouTube. The video features the fake Brady telling crass jokes, offensive not only because of the misuse of the legendary quarterback’s likeness but for reminding viewers of Andrew Dice Clay’s standup style. Within days, the former New England Patriot’s attorneys sent a cease and desist letter.

Feeling they had no other choice, Sasso and Kultgen scrubbed the internet clean of the offending and offensive video. It’s now impossible to find the Tom Brady AI comedy special, even if the grounds by which it violated his rights are still in a grey area of legality. There’s a debate going on in Hollywood about the best way to combat deepfake technology, with one belief that stars should register their likeness.

The problem is parody law exists, and others believe that videos like the Tom Brady AI comedy special are already protected the same way Saturday Night Live is. Under those standards, the video generated by artificial intelligence is legal and should be allowed to remain online.

Tom Brady isn’t afraid to poke fun at himself, though with no AI involved, and only if, at the end of the bit, he’s recognized properly as the greatest NFL player of all time. 80 for Brady, a recent comedy starring Hollywood legends like Jane Fonda and Sally Field, was a surprise hit at the box office. In the film, Brady plays the straight-man role to the insanity of his experienced comic co-stars, similar to LeBron James in Trainwreck.

The difference is that James added a wrinkle to his character; he’s a cheapskate, which drove Bill Hader’s physical therapist crazy. Tom Brady’s AI expressed views and opinions that are likely not shared by the squeaky-clean quarterback. Despite the existence of parody law, without some sign-off from the person being mocked, it can potentially open the door to lawsuits.

Will Sasso is a veteran of Mad TV, the former FOX version of Saturday Night Live, so he has experience with parody and angering powerful celebrities. Today, the anger from Tom Brady’s AI video is more financially dangerous than someone complaining that they “don’t talk that way” over a late-night skit. This is part of the danger of artificial intelligence: just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.

For their part, Sasso and Kultgen are undeterred and have promised that the Tom Brady AI video isn’t the end of their experiment with the new technology. Brady, meanwhile, is rumored to still be making sporadic appearances in Tampa Bay area comedy clubs, trying to take the title of “Funniest former NFL Super Bowl Winning Quarterback” from Peyton Manning.