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Written by Piero Umiliani
Date 1968
Source Svezia, Inferno e Paradiso
(Sweden, Heaven and Hell)
Publisher Edward B. Marks Music Company

Frank Oz and Jim Henson performing the song on The Muppet Show.

"Mah Na Mah Na" was written by composer Piero Umiliani for an Italian "mondo" film (exploitative pseudo-documentaries) about life (mostly sex-related) in Sweden, titled Svezia, Inferno e Paradiso (Sweden, Heaven and Hell). It is a nonsense song that achieved widespread fame as a classic Muppet sketch.

Although it was first performed in a Henson production on Sesame Street by the character who would become Bip Bippadotta and two Anything Muppet girls, the most famous Muppet rendition of the song debuted on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1969, where it was performed by Mahna Mahna and his back-up singers, the Snowths. This version of the skit was restaged many times on a number of variety shows before being featured as the opening number in the premiere episode of The Muppet Show.

Regardless of who is singing, the basics of the performance remain the same: a central character starts out conforming to the structure of the song, but falls into improvisational scat passages whenever possible. Although the back-up singers attempt to bring order back to the number, their effort is ultimately futile.

The number became popular enough that it was spoofed by the Muppets themselves in a sketch on Muppets Tonight, in which Kermit the Frog complained to his psychiatrist that the Snowths would appear every time he said the word "phenomena."

The Muppets ends with a montage of celebrities performing the classic number with the Snowths. The Muppet Show recording can be heard playing in a car in the official movie trailer.


Picture Description
Sesame Street (First: Episode 0014)

The earliest version of the skit was first performed on episode 0014 of Sesame Street by Bip Bippadotta, backed by two Anything Muppet girls. Whereas the Snowths sing "do doo, do doo doo" in the Muppet version, the back-up singers on the Sesame Street version sing "pa tee, pa tee pee." This version begins with the two girls (voiced by Loretta Long and Frank Oz) wanting to sing a song, before Bip Bippadotta appears saying "Mahna Mahna."

The Ed Sullivan Show (1969)

Performed live on November 30, 1969, this is the first time the song is performed by Mahna Mahna and the Snowths.

Pure Goldie (1971)

Ruth Buzzi, Bob Dishy and Goldie Hawn performed the song when they all turned into Muppets.

This Is Tom Jones (1971)

Performed by Mahna Mahna and the Snowths.

Mahna Mahna Dick Cavett Show 1971.jpg
The Dick Cavett Show (1971)

Performed by Mahna Mahna and the Snowths.

The Muppet Show (episode 101)

Performed by Mahna Mahna and the Snowths as the opening number. As the song draws to a close, Mahna Mahna leaves the stage and exits The Muppet Theatre. Soon after he has disappeared, the phone rings backstage. Kermit answers the call and brings the receiver on stage, telling the Snowths "It's for you," at which point Mahna Mahna has the last word, "Mahna Mahna!" This version of the sketch includes a brief excerpt from "Lullaby of Birdland" performed in scat.

Muppet*Vision 3D (1991)

An instrumental version of the song is heard in the queue areas and is played in the theater during show transitions.

Muppets Tonight (episode 107)

The "Mahna Mahna" sketch was parodied in "The Psychiatrist's Office" sketch in episode 107 of Muppets Tonight. Every time Kermit said the word "phenomena," the Snowths would appear and sing their trademark "do doo do do doo." As the sketch progressed, guest star Sandra Bullock began performing the song, taking on some of the mannerisms of the Mahna Mahna character, most notably by trying to dominate the song with a manic scat until she was calmed down by others.

The Muppet Show Live (2001)

"Mahna Mahna" opened The Muppet Show Live at MuppetFest in 2001. Bill Barretta performed Mahna Mahna to a pre-recorded track of Jim Henson's vocals. New video footage of Mahna Mahna riding in a limo was taped and shown on a video monitor at the event.

The Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon (2002)

Kermit the Frog performed the song with the Snowths for the 2002 Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon.

Play with Me Sesame (2002)

Grover and Prairie Dawn sing along to the vintage Sesame Street clip and add some of their own words.

McDonald's commercial (2003)

Giorgio Moroder's 1969 version of the original song, was used for an English version of a European McDonald's commercial.

Barnes & Noble Lincoln Center (2003)

Sweetums performed the song live during a promotional appearance featuring Kermit the Frog and Steve Whitmire at the Lincoln Center Barnes & Noble in New York.

CanTeen commercial (2005)

An advertisement featuring "Mahna Mahna" was filmed for a New Zealand cancer charity called CanTeen. In the ad, Mahna Mahna was both puppeteered and voiced by Bill Barretta, and the lyrics were changed from "Mahna Mahna" to "Bandanana" to promote CanTeen's "Bandanna Week."

Muppets Ahoy! (2006)

The Muppets sang the song in the Muppets Ahoy! stage show. Drew Massey performed Mahna Mahna to a pre-recorded track of Jim Henson's vocals while Victor Yerrid and Brett O'Quinn performed the Snowths. New video footage of Mahna Mahna around the Disney Wonder cruise ship was taped and shown on a video monitor as well.

Mahna facebook app.jpg
Never-Ending Mahna Mahna Phenomahna (2011)

In October 2011, the official Facebook page for The Muppets launched an app that enables you to insert yourself into a "Never-Ending Mahna Mahna Phenomahna". Clips of contributor-recorded segments are edited into new footage of Mahna Mahna and the Snowths to create an ongoing volley of the nonsense lyrics from the song. Included amongst viewer contributions are clips of Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Animal, Rowlf the Dog, the Swedish Chef, Big Mean Carl, Pepe the King Prawn, Jason Segel, Kristen Schaal, Alan Arkin, Mickey Rooney, Sarah Silverman, Bret McKenzie, Rashida Jones, Ken Jeong, Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley, Leslie Feist and fan-made videos using their own puppets (including several Muppet Whatnot Workshop puppets).

Orange commercial (2011)

When Miss Piggy says "phenomena" the two Snowths appear to sing their trademark "do doo do do doo." The rest of the Muppets erupt in singing "Mahna Mahna" (replacing the phrase with "phenomena") and closing out the commercial much to Kermit's dismay.

Good Morning America (2011)

Mahna Mahna and the Snowths perform the song. After the first verse, the Snowths drop out and are replaced by Kermit and Piggy, Gonzo and Camilla then all of them.

The Muppets (2011)

A montage of celebrities performing the song with the Snowths, set to the Muppet Show recording, plays over the credits. Featured celebrities include Amy Adams as Mary, Jason Segel as Gary, Chris Cooper as Tex Richman, Selena Gomez, Alan Arkin, Jim Parsons, Kristen Schaal, Rashida Jones as Veronica, Sarah Silverman, Feist, Emily Blunt, James Carville, Judd Hirsch, Mickey Rooney, Rico Rodriguez, John Krasinski, and Neil Patrick Harris.

Jim Henson's Musical World (2012)

Performed by Mahna Mahna and the Snowths during a medley of Muppet songs.

Sesamstrasse (2012) (First: Folge 2672)

Performed by the characters of Sesamstrasse (Wolle, Pferd, Grobi, Ernie, Bert, Elmo, Günni, Finchen, Krümelmonster, the green Wolf, two Chickens and a number 40) and German celebrities with ties to the show (Julia Stinshoff, Otto Waalkes, Annette Frier and Gustav Peter Wöhler).

Mahna Mahna Because Love.jpg
The Muppets episode "Because... Love" (2016)

Performed by Mahna Mahna and the Snowths, as Howard Tubman introduces Scooter to his musical clients for potential inclusion on Up Late with Miss Piggy. Scooter comments on how catchy the number is.

The Muppets Take the Bowl (2017)

Mahna Mahna and the Snowths perform the song live at the Hollywood Bowl. Pre-taped video is shown of Mahna Mahna leaving the stage, riding a Starline tour bus (with a cameo by Matt Vogel), and stopping at Pink's Hot Dogs.

The Jim Henson Retrospectacle Live in Concert (2018)

Performed by Bret McKenzie and the Snowths.

The Muppets Take the O2 (2018)

Mahna Mahna and the Snowths begin the song, but Mahna Mahna eventually leaves and never returns. Scooter pulls a celebrity from the audience to fill in; Friday's show featuring Kylie Minogue, the Saturday matinee featuring Steps and Saturday evening featuring Bobby Moynihan.

Sesamstrasse Folge 2841 (2019)

Namika and the Muppet characters perform a couple of verses of the song, one of which they incorporate her name into.

A Swingin' Sesame Street Celebration (2019)

Performed by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.


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The Muppet Show version
Sesame Street version
Cover versions


The Ed Sullivan Show version
The Muppet Show version
Sesame Street version

Specials & Compilations

Sesame Street version
The Muppet Show version


The Muppet Show version



While, the song's origins pre-date any Muppet performances, it's popularity is in some part due to its Henson association. It's usage in material outside of Muppet/Henson productions do not necessarily equate a reference to the Muppets, unless one of the Muppet versions is directly sampled or referenced in the source material.

  • A line in "Weird Al" Yankovic's 2003 song "Couch Potato" mentions "The Muppet Show where they go 'Mahna Mahna!'"
  • The song was sung in the style of the Muppets by Gareth, David, and Ben in the first episode of the second series of BBC's The Office. After they finish singing the tune, David sighs "ah, Muppets".
  • Issue #2 of The Treasure of Peg-Leg Wilson features Mahna Mahna and the Snowths at Machu Picchu, singing the name of the Incan ruin to the tune of "Mahna Mahna."
  • A Sesamstrasse film featuring girls on a rock climbing wall is underscored by Cake's cover on the For the Kids album.



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