Banana in the ear is a classic Sesame Street routine by Ernie and Bert that first appeared in the show's second season. In their apartment, Bert notices Ernie holding a banana in his ear. Bert tries to talk to Ernie, but he replies, "I can't hear you! I have a banana in my ear!"
While produced as a three-part sketch, it is the first part that is most often quoted and has been referenced subsequently on Sesame Street and in other media.
- At the beginning of Episode 3423 of Sesame Street, Telly can be heard telling the punchline of the joke to Elmo and Susan.
- Elmo's Christmas Countdown features "The Bert and Ernie Christmas Special," with Tony Sirico and Steve Schirripa portraying Bert and Ernie. The two try to play a scene where Bert tells Ernie he has a gingerbread man in his ear. The real Bert and Ernie direct their performances and end up re-enacting the sketch themselves.
- A 2017 Vanity Fair YouTube video, where the Sesame Street Muppets recite famous movie quotes, has Bert quoting "What we've got here is a failure to communicate" from Cool Hand Luke while Ernie has a banana in his ear.
- During the second of Chrysler's "Listen! Drive! Surprise!" videos, Ernie stalls reviewing his pre-drive checklist to prepare his "cellphone" in case they get a call. Ernie sticks a banana in his ear and once again can't hear Bert.
- In the 2018 YouTube video "Bert and Ernie of Sesame Street," Bert and Ernie recall when they first met, Ernie couldn't hear Bert after he introduced himself since he had a banana in his ear.
- In Sesame Street's 50th Anniversary Celebration, Bert tries to get in contact with Ernie on his cellphone. Ernie lets Bert know that he's unable to hear him with his banana, punctuated by a comedic music button. Joseph Gordon-Levitt notes the terrible phone reception bananas have.
- The third installment of "What's That Snack" has Ernie attempting to guess a food that is a yummy, healthy fruit, has a peel, and is yellow. Ernie is stumped and opts to phone a friend using the winning snack: a banana. Ernie recites the line when Cookie Monster tries to get his attention.
- Honorable Mentions
- An earlier Ernie and Bert sketch from Season 1 has Ernie digging through a basket to find the ringing telephone. He pulls out a banana and starts talking into it like a phone. Ernie gives the banana to Bert to talk to while he tells a caller on their real phone that Bert's unavailable. The sketch was re-adapted for a Season 31 insert where Ernie has Bert talk with Gladys the elephant on a banana.
- In a 2019 video produced for Common Sense Media's "Device Free Dinner" campaign, Bert and Ernie put their phones in a dresser. Ernie's phone is, of course, a banana.
- While not a direct reference to the Sesame Street skit, Avery Schreiber mentions in The Muppet Show episode 116 that his comedy partner Jack Burns disapproved of the banana-in-the-ear shtick. Fozzie Bear tries sticking a banana in his ear to no laughs. Schreiber then tries it and cracks up the audience, including Statler and Waldorf.
- In an AMC Theatres policy trailer promoting 2011's The Muppets, Fozzie enters the movie theater talking into a banana, quoting the punchline from the Sesame Street sketch.
- Fozzie was asked what the secret is to making the "banana in the ear" gag work in a 2016 Q&A on Facebook live for @midnight. In response, Fozzie stakes ownership of the gag and claims that he pioneered it, having gone through several other fruits including a pineapple.
- An animated segment from The Electric Company features two characters acting out and paraphrasing the sketch, with texted dialogue over their heads as they speak. In at least one episode, Lorne Greene appears following the bit, commenting that he has a "Bonanza" in his ear.
- A story in the comic book Jughead #101 (1997) has Jughead stuffing bananas in his ears to avoid listening to the paper Dilton keeps reading to him. When Pop Tate tries to get Jughead's attention, Archie responds "He can't hear you, Pop! He's got bananas in his ears!"
- The sketch is referenced in an early scene of the film Baby Driver (2017) when Baby holds a banana to his ear as he talks with his deaf foster father Joseph.