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Mah Nà Mah Nà facts for kids

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"Mah Nà Mah Nà/Manah Manah"
Single by Piero Umiliani
from the album Svezia, inferno e paradiso
B-side "You Tried To Warn Me"
Released 4 September 1968 (1968-09-04)
Label Ariel AR-500 (US)
Columbia AR-500 (Canada)
Songwriter(s) Piero Umiliani

"Mah Nà Mah Nà" is a popular song by Italian composer Piero Umiliani. It originally appeared in the Italian film Sweden: Heaven and Hell (Svezia, inferno e paradiso). It was a minor radio hit in the U.S. and in Britain, but became better known internationally for its use by The Muppets and on The Benny Hill Show.

"Mah Nà Mah Nà" first gained popularity in English-speaking countries from its use in the recurring cold open blackout sketch for the 1969-70 season of The Red Skelton Show first airing in October 1969.

Sesame Street producer Joan Ganz Cooney heard the track on the radio and decided it would be a perfect addition to the show. It was first performed by Jim Henson (Kermit, et al.), Frank Oz (Fozzie Bear, et al.) and Loretta Long (Susan) on the fourteenth episode of the show, broadcast on November 27, 1969. The following Sunday, Henson and His Muppets performed the song on The Ed Sullivan Show. Seven years later the song was part of the premiere episode of The Muppet Show in 1976.

Starting in 1971, The Benny Hill Show – in its second incarnation now at Thames Television where it launched in 1969 in colour – implemented "Mah Nà Mah Nà" as part of a comic background music medley that would run during their often filmed slapstick sketches. The medley became a Benny Hill Show tradition for the rest of its run.

Versions by the Muppets

Aside from its notoriety as the primary silent comedy sketch scene music for The Benny Hill Show, "Mahna Mahna" became familiar to many from its renditions by the Muppets on television. In 1969, the first season of Sesame Street featured a sketch featuring two Muppet girls voiced by Frank Oz and Loretta Long who are unsure of what to do, until they decide to sing a song. Enter an unusual-looking short, shaggy-haired male Muppet character who begins singing "Mahna Mahna", prompting the girls to join him. None of the characters had names at the time, but the male Muppet who led the "Mahna Mahna" call-and-response was eventually going by the alternate identity Bip Bippadotta (ref. Kip Addotta), so as to distinguish him from the official Mahna Mahna character that would be developed later on. The Muppet character called Mahna Mahna was originally performed by Muppets creator Jim Henson, and is now performed by Muppeteer veteran Bill Barretta.

On 30 November 1969, "Mahna Mahna" was performed on The Ed Sullivan Show by three new and more fully detailed Muppet characters. The male Muppet character was purple with wild, orange hair and a furry, green tunic, while the female Muppet characters were two identical pink cow-like alien creatures with horns and cone-like mouths (with yellow lips) that always remained open. At this point the male Muppet was given the name Mahna Mahna and the female alien creatures were called the Snowths (as a portmanteau of "snout" and "mouth" since their mouth also served as their noses), both performed by Muppeteer veteran Frank Oz. The song "Mahna Mahna" was played at a slower tempo and given a more playful, quintessential "children's"-style arrangement as opposed to the previous arrangement which was slightly reminiscent of the early 1960s Calypso.

In 1976, on the first episode of The Muppet Show to be recorded (featuring Juliet Prowse), the 1969 "Mahna Mahna" routine from The Ed Sullivan Show was reworked and used as the first sketch with the same characters and a new recording of the last musical arrangement. The Muppet Show became an immediate hit and "Mahna Mahna" was the highlight of that episode. During the sketch, Mahna Mahna managed to dance his way backstage and out of the Muppet Theater, phoning the Snowths after exiting. At the end of the episode, he managed to enter Statler and Waldorf's box.

As a result, the original Piero Umiliani recording finally became a hit in the UK (#8 in the UK charts in May 1977), where the Muppet Show soundtrack album featuring the Muppets' version went to number one. It was at that point that the name "Mahna Mahna and The Snouths" was given the incorrect credit of "Mahna Mahna and The Snowths," which has served as the definitive spelling ever since then. The single from the album 'Halfway down the stairs" reached the top Ten in the UK charts – and its B side was Mah Na Mah Na – making the song appear three times in the charts at the same time,albeit as a B side,the Piero Umiliani version and also a track on the album.

Later on in that same episode, a snippet of the song "Lullaby of Birdland" is 'hummed' during one of the improvisational passages, as part of a running gag involving "Mahna Mahna".

The later Muppet TV series Muppets Tonight (1996–1998) revisited it in a sketch with Sandra Bullock where Kermit the Frog visits a doctor to complain about weird things that happen to him whenever he says the word phenomena, namely the Snouths suddenly appear with musical accompaniment to sing their part of the song.

In the Muppets version of "Bohemian Rhapsody" at 00:02:25, the Snouths make a cameo appearance, singing the titular lyric.

The song is performed in the 2011 Muppets film, where various celebrities sing with the Snowths in the end credits.

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