Manitoba

Former Winnipegger's 'mean toddler' video goes ultra-viral

Former Winnipegger Johanna Stein has created an internet sensation — a YouTube video she made about all the mean things toddlers say has gone ultra-viral.

'Your tummy looks like a bagel': Mean toddler's observations massive overnight success

Former Winnipegger Johanna Stein has created an internet sensation — a YouTube video she made about all the mean things toddlers say has gone ultra-viral. CBC's Teghan Beaudette reports. 2:05

Former Winnipegger Johanna Stein has created an internet sensation — a YouTube video she made about all the mean things toddlers say has gone ultra-viral.

Stein's video, called "Momhead," shows Stein getting ready in the morning with a GoPro camera strapped to her head, all the while, her daughter making some harsh observations.

"Your breath smells like a fart," is one of them. "Your tummy looks like a bagel," is another.

"She was just being brutally honest the way that little children are," said Stein. "They don't know what tact means. They don't know diplomacy. They just -- they're so observant and they want to talk about the world around them ...  It's actually a chapter from [my] book. What's in the video is maybe 50 per cent of what's in the book as far as the insults go."

Stein published How Not to Calm a Child On a Plane in May, but the insults predate that by a few years.

"That was all when she was like three four years old before she understood what it meant to insult a person," said Stein, whose daughter is now seven. "I just thought it was really funny."

The video was posted on Sept. 29 and on Wednesday evening it had more than 700,000 views.

On BuzzFeed, where it sat at the top of the page within days of posting, the video had more than one million hits and climbing.

"It's weird. I did not expect that to be honest," she said. "I mean, it really was making us laugh and I thought, 'Maybe I'll sell a couple of books.' I was gobsmacked by it. You know, it's super cool."

Stein, now a writer and comedian, was born and raised in Winnipeg. Proudly, she says, in the North End.

After taking theatre and English at the University of Winnipeg and briefly flirting with the prospect of medical school she moved to L.A.

'I love daddy a little more than I love you' 

Stein's made videos for Yahoo and Procter and Gamble before, but this one was just for fun to promote the book.

She made it with a GoPro and a close friend, Suzanne Luna, who is a director on the Ellen show.

"The two of us, like giggling teenagers, were stomping around the house shooting that video," she said.
Former Winnipegger Johanna Stein has gone viral with a video about all the mean things her daughter said as a toddler. (Courtesy Johanna Stein)

The inspiration came not only from her book but also Stein's husband, Dave Gassman, who takes her daughter skiing and often straps on a GoPro.

When he turned it around to face him, Stein thought it was pretty funny so she decided to pair it with her daughter's now famous insults.

"The first thing I remember her saying — she must have been about three — and I had just given her a bath, and we were cuddling and it was this like, ridiculously sweet moment," said Stein. "She took my face in her hands, and she said, 'I love daddy a little more than I love you.' And I laughed in her face because it was just too outrageous and then I started cataloguing them."

Reaction to the video online has been mixed — many people find it funny, but some people… not so much. 

"When you look at the comments on the video there's people who say, 'Oh my god, I get it!' and then there are people who are like, 'I can't believe you're not chastising that child,'" she said. "Anyone with small children knows they just speak their honest mind." 
Former Winnipegger Johanna Stein in "Momhead," a YouTube video about accidental insults from her daughter Sadie. (YouTube)

Either way, the attention online has caught the eye of major networks around the world. On Thursday, Stein is sitting down for an interview with CNN and a major morning show in Australia.

She's also had calls from Meredith Vieira's people and Steve Harvey.

"Buzzfeed is what [did it]. It was at number one within a couple of hours of being on BuzzFeed," she said. "I went to bed [Tuesday] night and it had, I don't know, 100,000 hits."

While Stein is enjoying the press frenzy, she's also preparing for a book tour and a possible sitcom with CBS. Actor Will Arnett (who also has ties to Winnipeg) used his production company to option the book for a potential pilot. 

"My mailbox keeps filling up -- people want to know about all these terrible things my daughter said to me. It's wonderful," she said.  

Stein will be in Winnipeg next month at McNally Robinson to sign copies of her book.