Slow Cooker Baked Beans - Detail - ©

COVID-19 Humour: Gag Outrages Twitterites

I have no proof that it was just a gag, but a well-known online humourist earlier this week posted a serious of Tweets about how his 9-year-old asked him to open a can of beans for her, and he decided to make it a lock down, home-schooling, ‘teachable moment’. Wow, did he get flamed!

Pull-tab Can of Bushs Baked Beans - © Bush's Baked Beans Can

I’ve read the thread – both comedian John Roderick’s (@johnroderick) original chain of reports on his daughter’s alleged struggle with the can opener and the selected responses of unrestrained responses/reactions from other Twittizens, and I have to agree with Roderick’s podcast partner Ken Jennings (of Jeopardy fame) that it was all just a comedy routine – a good-natured, well-intended satirical hoax, if you will – designed to be a moment of cathartic release for frustrated working-at-home, locked-down dads.

How it all started…

Roderick posted that his 9-year-old daughter came to him while he was engrossed in a jigsaw puzzle. He recounted the conversation thusly: “So yesterday my daughter (9) was hungry and I was doing a jigsaw puzzle so I said over my shoulder, ‘Make a can of baked beans’. She said, ‘How?’, like all kids do when they want YOU to do it, so I said, ‘Open a can, and put it in pot.” She brought me the can and said, ‘Open it how?’

He grabbed the can opener and continued: “I said, ‘Th[is] little device is designed to do one thing: open cans. Study the parts, study the the can, figure out what the can-opener inventor was thinking when they tried to solve this problem.'”

Thereafter (supposedly) ensued a 25-post sequence of ‘reports’ from Roderick, passing-on how things were progressing over a ‘teachable moment’ that allegedly lasted 6 hours.

Well-meaning parents roared back with indignation

Whew! The post struck a chord with parents far and wide who – presumably because the issue involved a child and its food – chastized Roderick for his meanness and neglect. The objectors almost immediately objectified him as the ‘Bean Dad’.

The Bean Dad story is ridiculous,” said BrooklynDad_defiant! (@mmpadellan). “He should have just FED her, and THEN showed her how to use a damn can opener instead of leaving her hungry for six hours. That’s abusive. She’s 9 years old, and some of us don’t learn very well when we’re hungry, regardless of age. Jeez.

Kristin Rogersdotter @KRogersdotter), who sounds to me like a lock-down mom who’s read everything she could find on home schooling, was more formal and, frankly bossier: “Six minutes. You get six minutes, not six hours. And remember the acronym HALT (hungry, angry, lonely, tired); those are not the times to be teaching. No belittling allowed. Encourage independent problem solving, but for your kid’s sake at least tell them warm or cold.

Finally, Jennings (@KenJennings) tried to set the story straight: “If this reassures anyone, I personally know John to be (a) a loving and attentive dad who (b) tells heightened-for-effect stories about his own irascibility on like ten podcasts a week. (This site is so dumb.” The site he was referring to was the complaint one he was replying to.)

My take

My immediate reaction, even before I learned from Jennings’ post that Roderick was a humourist, was that the whole thing was a great jest, worthy of the talents of a Dave Barry or a Carl Hiassen. But even they would probably have steered clear of getting between the child of a Tiger-parent and its food.

(P.S.: Did anyone else remember that virtually all commercial Baked Beans packed for home consumption come in cans with easy pull-tab tops? (See photo, above left.) What could be easier to open? Another nice comedic touch…)

Please, folks! Stop to think before you jump to conclusions about stuff like Roderick’s post. We’re all feeling the stress and desperation about the ongoing pandemic crisis. Don’t make it all worse by misinterpreting exaggerations and hyperbole-for-effect, and their companion wry humour techniques. If you love your Constitution and Bill of Rights, honour the First Amendment, and give the poster the benefit of the doubt for the sake of freedom of speech.


Roderick’s Twitter and Instagram accounts have both been deleted.

~ Maggie J.