When asked about the origin of the expression, Frank Oz responded:
“I have used it for years with my characters based on old burlesque performers, one being the straight man with the other doing the funny. It's kind of comedic way to register surprise. Those comic duos from the days of burlesque were brilliant.”
- Fozzie Bear uses the phrase as he does a take for Johnny Carson on a 1976 appearance on The Tonight Show.
- In episode 109 of The Muppet Show, Kermit utters, "Hubba-hubba-what?" when he learns Gonzo's doing a costume act.
- Richard Hunt made fun of Oz's frequent use of the phrase during the taping of a Two-Headed Monster sketch (in behind the scenes footage found on the 40 Years of Sunny Days DVD) having the Two-Headed Monster shout, "Hubba-wha! Frank Oz!"
- In the Monsterpiece Theater sketch "Much Ado About Nothing," both Grover and Mr. Johnson both say the phrase when they find a pig they were going to cook can talk.
- The phrase is said four times in the Monsterpiece Theater sketch "Monsters with Dirty Faces." One of the monsters says it when Grover asks Rocky to wash his face. When Rocky agrees to do so, the phrase is exclaimed by all of the monsters, and then by Grover. At the segment's end, Alistair Cookie says it when Rocky appears to clean his face.
- In a Good Morning America sketch, Howard Straightalk brings onto a show a chicken named Debbie Lynn Sweetcheeks Hubbawha.
- Elmo reacts this way when he learns the odd things Alan claims to have cooked in Elmo's Magic Cookbook.
- In a season 37 sketch with Elmo and Jamie Foxx, the phrase is uttered twice when a fox and a duck reveal their names to be "Jamie Foxx."
- When a visitor to Hooper's Store identifies himself as one of the Pirates of the Care-to-be-readin' in Episode 4135, Elmo responds, "hubba-wha?"
- In Elmo's World: Fast and Slow, during Dorothy's reimagining of "The Tortoise and the Hare," Elmo Hare reacts this way when he learns that Elmo Tortoise won the race.
- A group of Triangle Lovers exclaim the phrase when Baby Bear proposes some changes to the club in Episode 4144.
- Elmo and Colin Farrell both say the phrase upon learning from Murray that the Word of the Day is "investigate." (First: Episode 4219)
- In the intro sequence to the "Super Grover 2.0" segments, Grover says the phrase when he sees a spider dangling alongside a skyscraper with him.
- A. B. C-more utters the phrase when he realizes he's been driving in the wrong direction in the racing portion of Elmo's Alphabet Challenge.
- In Words Are Here, There, and Everywhere, Elmo and Abby Cadabby react this way when Buzz Word explains that everyone has a word collection.
- Grover, Elmo and Cookie Monster react this way when seeing some sentient socks pass by (caused by one of Abby's failed spells) in Count on Elmo.
- In Episode 4608, Big Bird and Elmo exclaim the phrase when they learn from Chris that birds are dinosaurs.
- Elmo reacts this way in Episode 4828 when he's cheerfully greeted by a kind-stricken Oscar.
- When Chris wishes he were a kid in When You Wish Upon a Pickle, Elmo responds, "hubba-wha?"
- In Episode 4916, Abby Cadabby designates herself as a spaceship mechanic. Elmo does a take, exclaiming "Hubba-wha?", and alien Ruprop (Rudy) does a double take; "Hubba-hubba-wha?"
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