Although the phrase is now closely identified with the character, Fozzie first said it in The Muppet Movie, and only once on The Muppet Show, in episode 413 (along with variations on the expression, such as "Hiya hiya" in episode 424).
In a January 2018 Reddit AMA, Frank Oz recalled the origin of the phrase in The Muppet Movie:
“Hey Ottawa! Hey Muppet Wiki! I remember exactly when Fozzie said "[Wocka Wocka]" first. In The Muppet Movie script, Fozzie was doing a comedy act on stage where Kermit first saw him, but there was no comedy act written, so I just made one up -- and what you see on screen is what I showed Jim in an empty sound stage about a week before. And he loved it, so I kept it. And it really is a steal from old fashioned burlesque comedians.”
Fozzie has his own origin for the phrase, as told to Maxim magazine in March 2014:
“"Wocka Wocka!" was a gift to me from my comedy mentor and joke writer, Gags Beasley. I think he got it from Ben Turpin. Ben used it all the time in silent movies, but you couldn't hear it, so it had hardly any mileage when I got it.”
The phrase has gone on to identify not only The Muppet Show’s resident comedian, but Muppet fandom as a whole. At MuppetFest in 2001, Kirk Thatcher instructed the audience to raise their hands to help establish a greeting amongst fans akin to that used by Trekkies. Mimicking a puppeteer with one's raised hand, you say, Kermit the Frog's catchphrase, "Hi-ho!" Then, if you're greeted by a female fan, her response is: "Kissy kissy!" If you're greeted by a male Muppet fan, his response is: "Wocka wocka!"
This page is an attempt to chronicle the popularization of "Wocka Wocka" throughout Fozzie's appearances following The Muppet Show.
- As Kermit is getting ready for his date in The Great Muppet Caper, Fozzie says, "we are going to have ourselves a time tonight! Wocka wocka!"
- In an attempt to restore Kermit's memory in The Muppets Take Manhattan, Fozzie tells him a joke, punctuated with a "wocka wocka".
- After Pop draws Fozzie in Wow, You're a Cartoonist!, the drawing comes to life and Fozzie says this phrase.
- The Cowardly Lion uses the phrase to demonstrate his act for Dorothy Gale and her friends in The Muppets' Wizard of Oz. Later, when The Wizard drops the Lion down a trap door, his cries of "wocka wocka" echo as he falls.
Other examples can be found in Disney Channel Bumpers, Studio DC Hosted by Selena Gomez, the Disney Xtreme Digital short "Four For Friday", the opening title screen for the Jim Henson's Muppets GameBoy Color game, and Jokes! with Fozzie.
- Sam the Eagle begrudgingly translates "Druska druska druska!" to "Wocka wocka wocka" in the "Silent Strawberries" sketch from The Muppets Go to the Movies.
- Ma Bear says it at the beginning of A Muppet Family Christmas, indicating that the phrase might run in the family.
- The Muppets Take Manhattan - Fozzie's letter to Kermit begins with "Dear Kermit, wocka wocka wocka", with this part read out loud by Kermit before the voice-over shifts to Fozzie.
- The song "Hey, You're as Funny as Fozzie Bear" encourages the viewer (dubbed Fozzie's "comedy partner") to say "Wocka wocka," the funniest words in comedy.
- In The Jim Henson Hour episode "Power", Willard Scott says the phrase along with Fozzie at the end of their sketch together.
- In the Sesame Street song "Together We Make Music," Herry and his monster pals have Garth Brooks sing and repeat phrases, including "Wocka wocka wock." Afterwards, a monster comments how much he liked his "wocka wocka wocka."
- On Sesame Street, when Baby Bear and Rosita try to figure out what part of a pinwheel is in Episode 3970, Baby Bear places it around his neck like a bow tie and says Fozzie's catch phrase.
- Robin the Frog uses the variation "wocka wocka woo!" as a recurring exclamation in Muppet Monster Adventure.
- Pepe the King Prawn says "wocka, wocka, okay?" in It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie when he volunteers to do Fozzie's comedy spot when Fozzie voluntarily decides to sacrifice his act to deliver the money they owe.
- Kermit the Frog and Jason Segel are asked on 10 in 60, what is the better catchprase "Wocka Wocka" or "Mahna Mahna"? Segel immediately answers "Wocka Wocka".
- Foozie Bear of The Moopets says "Wocka Wocka" in his introduction scene in The Muppets. Later in the movie, he also says, "What the Wocka?"
- In a deleted scene from Muppets Most Wanted, prisoner Danny Trejo performs a stand-up comedy routine and punctuates his jokes with a "wocka wocka".
- Hilarity for Charity - Kumail Nanjiani discuses Fozzie's use of the phrase, revealing that before Fozzie came along, comedians only used one "wocka".
Despite its uses in popular culture, official sources establish "wocka" as the proper spelling: a digital style guide distributed to licensors includes a txt file using the "wocka" spelling as a phrase that may be used when marketing the Muppets; The Muppets' official bios on ABC.com confirmed the spelling; and character originator Frank Oz tweeted the correct spelling after misspelling it in a Reddit AMA.
One potential source for misspellings of the term as used by the general populace may be subtitles on some versions of the home video releases for The Muppet Movie. The closed-captioning and subtitle text tracks embedded within films released for a consumer market are often farmed out to third-party vendors rather than provided by the studio and creatives responsible for making the movie (the companies are often credited at the end of the movie within the subtitle track itself). Without access to script materials (or in the case of on-set improvising), indiscernible dialogue is often left to the interpretation of the transcriber and any range of mistakes can find their way into the final product. The 2001 DVD release of The Muppet Movie avoided the issue of assigning a spelling to Fozzie's phrase by failing to transcribe the dialogue when it's spoken during the scene. The following DVD release in 2005 spelled the term incorrectly, as "wakka", and each subsequent home video release (including Blu-ray and digital download/streaming) have carried over the error.
In popular culture
- In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode for Moon Zero Two, Tom dubs over a character on screen: "Ahhh! Frog and a bear, together again! Wocka wocka wocka!"
- In the seventh season Frasier episode "The Dark Side of the Moon," Daphne complains she is overworked, saying that her boss (Frasier), "keeps her in stitches," to which he responds "Wocka Wocka!"
- The Simpsons uses the phrase as a victory cry in "Specs and the City" when a power plant employee beats his co-worker at virtual Muppet chess.
- Family Guy has used the phrase multiple times including "The Tan Aquatic with Steve Zissou", "Baby Not on Board", and "Blue Harvest".
- Jack Swagger threatens Kermit in a 2011 WWE appearance, "why don't you and your girlfriend get off this stage before I start craving a ham sandwich, Wocka Wocka."
- During the Game of Thrones panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2011, Jason Momoa mentions that when he first heard the Dothraki language it sounded to him like a mixture of Jabba the Hut and Fozzie Bear and ends it all with a "wocka wocka".
- Waka Flocka Flame got part of his nickname from a cousin in reference to Fozzie Bear, and wears a jewel-encrusted Fozzie Bear Action Figure as a necklace.