coronavirus cringe that's not funny!

Explaining the Babylon Bee, one bad tweet at a time

Fig. 1: Reading the Babylon Bee; Fig. 2: Reading The Onion

If you have to explain a joke, it either means it’s gone over the head of your audience, or — more likely — that it’s just not a very good joke to begin with.

And so when I ran across the @ContextBee on Twitter, an account devoted to explaining the jokes in The Babylon Bee, the right-wing parody news site that’s possibly the world’s worst Onion copycat, I assumed it was taking the piss out of the Bee and its relentlessly unfunny posts, which are understandable only if you’re someone who gets most of their news through Facebook posts from your assorted MAGA relatives.

But it turns out that the @ContextBee isn’t kidding; the person behind it is apparently some sort of Babylon Bee superfan who thinks the Bee is 1) endlessly hilarious yet also 2) a humor site that needs to have all of its jokes explained.

It’s tough to decide which are the least funny, the Bee’s original posts or the weirdly earnest explanations.

Er, that should be “alluding,” not “eluding” though to be fair there are a lot of things that elude the @ContextBee. Like a basic understanding of humor.

Sometimes the alleged humor in a Babylon Bee post eludes even the @ContextBee.

Here the @ContextBee explains the only part of a Babylon Bee joke that doesn’t need an explanation.

I’m pretty sure everyone knows that; but not everyone knows about the bizarre conspiracy theory accusing Bill Gates of inserting tiny computer chips into the vaccines that is the basic premise of the Babylon Bee’s “joke.” .

In these posts the @ContextBee replies with the equivalent of a dittohead’s “ditto.”

And in this one the @ContextBee simply highlights the Babylon Bee’s transphobia; both the OP and the #ContextBee’s explanation basically assume that it’s inherently funny that Caitlyn Jenner is trans. Or, indeed, that anyone is.

This post and the explanation basically take it as a given that Hunter Biden’s substance abuse problems are hilarious.

But my favorite has to be this one:

There’s really not much of a joke here, in the traditional sense; if you read the Babylon Bee post itself, which reads like something written by someone who’s just had a large rock smashed against their head, it mostly seems like an excuse to publicly fantasize about shooting mask-wearing libs. As if there weren’t enough of that already going around.

If you really need some fake news to get you through your day, stick to The Onion.

H/T — I borrowed the graphic for this post from Why you should have a cat on Twitter.

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32 replies on “Explaining the Babylon Bee, one bad tweet at a time”

At the risk of being that person, I think there’s a typo in the last sentence of this excellent post.

Someone needs to start up a “Context Bee Context” account.

”This tweet cites the vapid ‘hard times/strong men/good times/weak men’ propaganda used to justify violence and authoritarianism.”

”This tweet explains Covid to people who have been living under a rock.”

ContextBee needs more history lessons that stop in the 1960s from Dinesh D’Souza if they want to get the Dem wearing Klan hoods attempt at human humour. Come on now. I’m a lefty Canadian progressive and I got it.

There was a notorious and obnoxious MRA on twitter who constantly used the Bee as a source. He refused to believe it was satire.

The hard times make hard men one is in reference to their article on kids today needing a good old fashioned world war? To which I have to say, wha, endless conflict in the Middle East isn’t enough for you people? Well, hold your horses, we’re working on this world war thing, just wait a bit more.

To be honest, I find the onion to have fallen on hard time recently. But the Babylon Bee is clearly at another level. Babylon Bee is the place where humor go to die. It’s like an elemental block of antifun.

I often have to remind my boyfriend that the more that jokes (okay, my jokes) get explained, the funnier they get. And now I have the Babylon Bee on my side.


At the risk of being that person, I think there’s a typo in the last sentence of this excellent post.

I’m always that person, so I’ll just go ahead and point out that there’s a typo in your name.

This reminds me of an (alleged) incident involving Dorothy Parker. She was playing Scrabble with a group of friends and a disagreement erupted over the spelling of the word vichyssoise. There was no dictionary to be found, but the host of the get-together emerged from the kitchen with a can of Crosse & Blackwell vichyssoise. This was the proof that the word had been spelled correctly on the Scrabble board — until Dorothy P. pointed out, “But look how they spell cross!”

Bit OT, but a follow up to the ‘plant based’ beer thing.

I found out today (thank you History Guy) that there was a German beer purity case that determined animals were not a usual ingredient in beer.

Warning for unfortunate cat.

Ruling of the Imperial Court of Justice of the German Empire (Reichsgericht)

Despite Bavaria’s insistence on its stricter Reinheitsgebot, in 1893, the Bavarian Higher Regional Court of Nürnberg acquitted a brewer who was charged with selling spoiled beer. During the brewing process, the brewer had dropped a cat into the mash tun which was killed and almost completely dissolved. The Bavarian court stated that it was legally irrelevant that the consumption of such beer might cause disgust.

On appeal, the Reichsgericht (Imperial Court of Justice) reversed the Bavarian court’s ruling and held that the beer was spoiled. (23 Entscheidungen des Reichsgerichts 409). It stated that the lower court could determine what constituted spoiled beer only if it defined normal beer, and that it should have inquired whether cat residue is a normal ingredient in beer. It sarcastically questioned why the lower court cited testimony from an expert witness who claimed that the boiling of animals such as rats and mice was commonplace and unavoidable if it did not mean to suggest that animals are usual ingredients of beer.

Despite Bavaria’s insistence on its stricter Reinheitsgebot, in 1893, the Bavarian Higher Regional Court of Nürnberg acquitted a brewer who was charged with selling spoiled beer.

Wow. They were having problems with bots in 1893?

Okay, your mileage may (and likely will) vary, but the first Bee headline (The one about the fortune rocket) is almost clever. At least wry grin inducing. Someone over at the Bee is trying.

Not very hard, but trying.

@Kat: the typo in my name is intentional- one of my nicknames IRL is Joe. Joe+ Jokester= Joekster.

Pretty sure Dave didn’t mean to type ‘throught’. I’m not trying to be critical- typos happen all the time, and to the best of us. Just thought he’d like to know- if I could figure out a way to do it non-publically, I would have.

– and I just remembered David is on Facebook. I’ll send him a PM and ask him to remove both these comments as well.

@kat- that is a funny story, however. And it makes me suspect that you knew quite well what I was doing with my handle, and that I was just ‘splainy. My apologies.


To which I have to say, wha, endless conflict in the Middle East isn’t enough for you people?

The shareholders of Blackwater, Halliburton, Lockheed-Martin, Northrup-Grumman, Boeing, et. al. demand continued growth.


Wow. I remember my German professor telling us that there were some serious laws about beer in Germany. Nice to see he wasn’t exaggerating.

That fortune cookie joke was old in the 1950s when I was growing up and was unfunny then. The Clue and stagecoach jokes are mildly amusing assuming you share the far-right delusions of the Babylon Bee, but none of it rises to the level of middle-school humor. (Fifth grade humor, maybe.) I find the explanations funnier, in that the commentator seems intent on explaining the obvious while ignoring the things that might actually need explanation–though really none of it does. I particularly like “This article is highlighting the fact that the government’s covid payments are doing more harm than good” with both the explainer and the original piece being oblivious to the idiocy of their position.

@ Vicky P

It was a really interesting video.

During the reunification of Germany, Bavaria said they’d only come on board if everyone else adopted their beer purity laws. One might have thought, bearing in mind the history of that region, there were more pressing concerns; but I admire their priorities.

Those laws are still causing ructions with EU standards to this day.

I guess now we’ve Brexited that’s no longer an issue for us. I imagine Bojo will soon be announcing how British brewers now have the freedom to make cat flavoured beer.


You’re reminding me of what Pratchett wrote about chocolate manufacturing in different parts of the Discworld.

Holy shit, this is the funniest thing I have ever seen.

“This article is highlighting the failure of Communism.”

I’m just gonna start tweeting that as the explanation for every article I link to.

The last one is mildly chuckle-worthy, or at least just the headline is, if you look at it as making fun of gun worshipers rather than mask wearers. It could go either way. Of course, they probably meant it the bad way.

That last tweet needs to learn the difference between “contrast” and “comparison”.

*The above comment is drawing attention to the fact that right wingers are frequently imprecise in their use of vocabulary.

**The previous comment is a humorous meta-reference to the Context Bee’s method of explaining satire using the most dry, emotionless, anatomical-textbook language imaginable.

***The comment above is even more boring, if that’s possible.

****I will now pound this joke into the ground.

*****Riiiiiight after I milk it just a teensy bit more.

For that last one, I think they meant “a comparison” and not “contrasts”:

This article is drawing contrasts between people who wore masks during the COVID-19 pandemic and people who wore masks while robbing stagecoaches

But there’s more truth in the “wrong” version, because, yeah, there is a slight bit of contrast between wearing a mask to protect other people and wearing a mask to rob someone. Just sayin’.

I am pretty sure the cat has a higher IQ and EQ than this Twitter account and the Bee.

I feel stupider just from reading this.

The rocket one is very close to what normal humans recognize as mild humor, possibly from a young child… except that fortune cookies are entirely American.

@Buttercup: I love footnote jokes!

Good Jesus, leave it to this person to use the passive to introduce each twit.

@Anonymous (formerly sbh) aren’t fortune cookie created circa 1950 ? :p

They do look like the kind of thing already outdated as soon as created tho. Like the average conservative, who was already an old wanker when born.

@Ohlmann Maybe so. But I remember hearing somebody telling the joke about opening a fortune cookie and getting the message “Help! I am being held prisoner in a fortune cookie factory” circa 1958 and being told it was an old joke then. Stan Freberg referenced that joke on his radio show about then also with a clear implication that it was not new. There seemed to be a lot of references to Chinese (or sometimes Japanese) artifacts containing fortunes inside them during that time, which is why that seems old and unfunny to me. It’s been over sixty years and I was maybe seven or eight at the time so I could be wrong, or maybe confusing things, but that’s what I remember.

The fortune cookie as it presently exists dates to ~1900 in San Francisco. Prior to that, a slightly different confection with the fortune placed in the outside pinched portion was popular in Kyoto and surrounding regions in Japan. The association with Chinese restaurants dates to shortly after WWII, when anti-Japanese prejudice led many Japanese restaurateurs to claim to be Chinese and learn a few Chinese recipes. They figured (correctly) that whites would never know the difference. This is also why maneki neko are so common in American Chinese restaurants.

I will never forget the Bees attempt at “Satirizing” the debate on orcs and racism in DND where they just straight up compaired black people to the orcs in Lord of the Rings being evil, kinda proving the point that maybe the stereotypes of fantasy races has some racist parts

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