The Yip Yips
are characters on the popular children's television show Sesame Street
. They are interplanetary visitors, presumed to be from the planet Mars
(in the first skit, as soon as they descend, their first words to each other are "...Not Mars." "Nope."). They marvel at devices such as clocks, telephones and computers. When frightened, each covers its face with the lower part of its jaw.
In their skits, these creatures, with squid-like tentacles, large eyes, and antennae, materialize into a room and say, "Yip-yip-yip-yip... Uh-huh. Uh-huh," in monotone voices. They come across common objects and, curious as to their names and functions, the Yip Yips consult a book they call "Earth book" which presumably contains information about things on Earth. For example, in their first skit the Yip Yips try communicating with a telephone by common greetings such as "Hello", "Greetings", and "Hi there!" unsuccessfully. After each failure they say "nope nope nope." Next they address the phone as a cow, a cat, and then a chicken, only finally learning what it really is when it rings. They "ring" back at it with their voices, clearly pleased to have identified and established communication with it.
They are "Yip Yipped" by multiple muppeteers including Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Martin P. Robinson, and Kevin Clash. The puppets have a very simple design, controlled entirely by two rods (one for the body and eyes, the other for the front of the mouth). This allows their entire bodies to be seen on camera, appearing to float in the air.
The two Yip Yips seen most often are called "Bob" and "Joe". On Plaza Sésamo (the Spanish version of Sesame Street), the Yip Yips say, "Yip-yip-yip-yip... Baja. Baja." Baja means "short." On the Dutch version, Sesamstraat, the Yip Yips are called "Sjoerd and Hendrik Marsman", referring to the early 20th century poet Hendrik Marsman. Note that in Dutch, Marsman does literally mean "Martian".
- 1971 — Phone discovery by the Yip Yips
- 1972 — by the Yip Yips
- 1975 — Radio discovery by the Yip Yips
- 1987 — by the Yip Yips
- 1989 — "Get Along", a song with Kermit, a cow, the Yip Yip aliens, Twiddlebugs, and greasers
- 1990 — Faucet discovery by the Yip Yips
- 1990 — Stars, moon, pigs, earth discovery by the Yip Yips
- 1991 — "Family" song with Yip Yip aliens
- 1992 — Wind discovery by the Yip Yips, from a fan
- 1994 — On Sesame Street's 25th Birthday: A Musical Celebration, Yip Yips audition for Big Bird, then go back to "stars"
- 1996 — "Outerspace Friend", a song by Telly with the Yip Yips
- 1998 — People in a limo, with the Yip Yips
- Unknown — Book discovery by the Yip Yips
- Unknown — (early 90s?) Visual appearance in "Brush Brush Boogie" sung by three blue monsters with hair over their eyes and yellow horns, had Maria brushing her hair, someone else using a brush, and the Yip Yips brushing their teeth, though they didn't speak.
- Unknown — (late 80s?) of the Yip Yips as an excuse for something (similar to the Beautiful Day Monster's appearance in the chocolate cake skit) and when Bert goes into the other room, the Yip Yips come down outside the window and materialize through the wall, when Ernie hollers that the Martians are there, Bert (off camera) tells him to ask them if they'd like any oatmeal.
- Unknown — 2003 — In the recurring skit "Journey to Ernie", Big Bird occasionally found himself in outer space, where he was helped by a Yip Yip in his search for Ernie.
- Unknown — late 80s — A Yip Yip contributes its voice to the Old MacDonald Cantata along with three Honkers, a Dinger, and Oscar's pet elephant Fluffy.
- Unknown — with Kermit, Old MacDonald, various farm animals and the Yip Yips, on a "News Flash" from Old MacDonald's Farm. Yip Yips arrive in a spaceship.
- Unknown (presumably mid-1990s based on technological level of computer) Computer discovery by the Yip Yips
- Unknown - Yip Yips encounter a toaster
Around the time of Sesame Street
's 35th anniversary, licensors finally started to notice and recall the characters. In mid-to-late 2003, Hot Topic
led the way with the first-known official Yip Yip merchandising, a "vintage"-look T-shirt with two Martians.
This was followed in the fall of 2004 with Gund bean-bag toys.
Light switch plates, action figures (by Palisades Toys), and stuffed toys followed. The 2006 Sesame Street calendar features the Yip Yips for November, and they make an appearance on the front cover.
The only real acknowledgement of the characters previous to 2003 was their mention in the 30th anniversary book Sesame Street Unpaved.
Yip Yips in popular culture
On early episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants, the population of Bikini Bottom generically resembled the Yip Yip characters, although as time passed they developed in more complex ways that drew them further from the Yip Yip stereotype. In the SpongeBob episode "I'm Your Biggest Fanatic", the Anchovie Jellyspotter sidekick characters behave and appear in a similar manner to the Yip Yips of Sesame Street.
In the Drawn Together episode "Little Orphan Hero", Foxxy Love, Princess Clara, Spanky Ham and Ling-Ling gather around the telephone, going "Yip yip yip yip yip...". In the scene, all the characters have strange triangular mouths, like the Yip Yips themselves. The director of that episode, Peter Avanzino, actually used a video file from The Yip Yip Club as reference.
In House of Cosbys Episode 3, the aliens talk like the Yip Yips.