So, Tesla is going to make a humanoid robot. As usual, they couldn’t just tell us that they’re going to make a robot. They had to use their typical flair for the dramatic, and have a person walk on the stage in a robot costume and do a dance. Which was friggin’ hilarious.
I think this part of the show could have been much better, though. Why? Because I’ve seen street performers in various cities (especially Las Vegas) do some pretty good impressions of a robot, human statues, etc.
One of the first ones I saw was this silver guy at Freemont Street (in Vegas). There’s not a lot of video of him floating around, but I managed to find this one:
And since 2005, the action from the street performers just keeps getting better and better. I mean, look at the way these guys move! It’s like a mixture of Gumby claymation and animatronics. It makes you wonder whether they might really be CGI or robotic.
If it’s comedy you’re looking for, then the go to guy in this department would have to be Rhys Darby. I’ve followed him since the Flight of the Conchords days, but he’s becoming a well-known enough actor now that he even gets cameo roles (like the non-smoker haz-mat guy in Sweet Tooth). Here’s his impression of a robot on a kid’s show:
And we can’t mention Rhys Darby and Flight of the Conchords without mentioning that show’s robotic hyjinks:
How I’d Have Done It
Just for fun (which, is basically the whole point of this article), here’s how I would have done the beginning of the show. They already had mannequins, like the one my colleague Johnna Crider stood next to.
— Johnna Crider (@JohnnaCrider1) August 20, 2021
After showing a couple of slides, they should have wheeled a mannequin in for Elon to point at and talk about for a few seconds. Let people think it’s just a dummy robot for show, and suddenly, BAM! it’s actually one of the human statue street performers, like in the below video:
But you’d need someone who is both good at acting like a statue and acting like a robot, because it would need to start moving around like a robot and performing various tasks. Give people a few minutes to wonder whether it’s really a Tesla robot in action before letting the dance routine get less and less realistic and then reveal that it’s just a street performer. Even link to the guy’s Venmo so he can rake in some tips.
Later, have some more living statue street performers make people wonder which of the mannequins are real and which are actually people in disguise. Surprise people and generate a bunch of YouTube videos like people make of the street performers.
Don’t get me wrong, the AI day presentation was funny, and notable enough to get a lot of media and social media attention, but it didn’t have the polished flair that we usually see with Tesla presentations and was a little bit of a letdown in that regard. Having some skilled street performers play the robot would have been a lot more fun.
Elon, if you’re reading this, I know there will probably be future events where the Tesla robot shows up, so feel free to take these ideas for free and have fun with them next time. It could make for a really cool comedy sideshow.
Featured image: Screenshot from Tesla’s AI Day presentation.