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Batty Lip Burbling

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"Okay, clearly you are the textbook definition of that noise you make when you strum your finger up and down over your lips..."
Spider-Man, Ultimate Spider-Man issue #60

While insanity is not always something to laugh at, the kind of madness that leads to someone batting at one's own lips is usually the kind that is Played for Laughs. Characters batting at their own lips is used as a punch-line, requiring a set-up (characters being taken-aback by something irrational or surreal) for them to work off of (motorboating themselves the only kind of reaction they can give, responding to strangeness with more strangeness).

See also Aside Glance or Cuckoo Finger Twirl, other reactions to utter nonsense. Not to be confused with motorboating of an illicit nature.


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    Comic Strips 
  • Jon does this in one strip when he thinks Garfield is talking to him. It's actually Lyman hiding out of frame.

    Fan Works 
  • In Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, Hermione creates a group of students that wish to enforce the idea that women can be heroes as well, misunderstanding Dumbledore's claims that she should not pursue a heroic destiny with Harry as sexism. When Harry is unable to back him up (having long since come to the conclusion that Dumbledore might actually be crazy), Dumbledore decides to keep that angle and punctuates a Beat by motorboating his lips.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Our Miss Brooks: In "Hobby Show" (a Sound-to-Screen Adaptation of "The Workhorse"), Miss Brooks' friends try to relax her by throwing her a hobby afternoon. Miss Brooks ends up attempting to finger-paint (Harriet Conklin), play with model trains (Walter Denton), knit (Mrs. Davis), play chess (Mr. Boynton), and fix toys to donate to needy children (Mr. and Mrs. Conklin) all at the same time. Miss Brooks ends the episode laughing hysterically and burbling her lips.
  • Girl Meets World: In "Girl Meets Secret Santa", Ava eats too many Christmas cookies and gets a sugar rush. She runs around the room as Riley and Maya talk, and just as it's claimed that Christmas makes people crazy, Ava stops in front of them, burbles her lips, and then runs away.
  • M*A*S*H: The Grand Finale "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" opens with Hawkeye in a psychiatric hospital. As he talks to the others over the phone, he jokes that he's getting a blister on his finger from burbling.
  • In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment of The Undead, during the big climactic scene where Diana/Helene has to decide whether to go back to her present-day body where she's a prostitute or STAY!! in her previous life in the past, thus changing history, Servo has her lapse into this in the middle of her big speech.
  • One Halloween Episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch has her aunts end up in an insane asylum (really a theme party). They try their best to escape and find a door that promises them an escape. Behind it is the Mad Scientist doing this.
  • Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide: In the episode Cheaters / Bullies, Ned Bigby goes crazy and turns into Crazy Neddy to try and scare Loomer. In the hallway scene, he jumps out of a locker, laughs like a maniac, jumps at Loomer - telling him that he can’t hide from him. Loomer says he’s not hiding. Crazy Neddy says “Exactly!!” then grabs Loomer’s cheeks, burbles his lips, then jumps down.
  • The Gong Show had host Chuck Barris yelling to the audience "Gimme a B!" The audience calls out "B!" Chuck: "Gimme another B!" Audience: "B!" Chuck: "Gimme another B!" Audience: "B!" Chuck: "Whaddya got?!" (does batty lip burbling)
  • The Goodies, particularly Tim, tend to do this as a sign that either they or someone else has flipped.
  • The Muppet Show guest star Dom De Luise, when playing with a baby monster in one skit. Since the monster is very persistent, and has two equally demanding companions, Dom does it a lot.

  • The second chorus of "Boys In Town" by Divinyls, after the line "I must have been pretty slow".

    Web Videos 
  • Danny from Game Grumps uses this effect to give a distinctive voice to the Black Knight from Shovel Knight. (He also uses it in a rendition of the Fatboy Slim song "Praise You" in a different video, but only for a few seconds.)
  • The Spoony Experiment: During the Make My Video episode, Spoony loses it when he hears how the VJ from the Kris Kross game introduces the eponymous rap duo, and part of his breakdown includes him going from repeating the VJ's babbling to burbling his lips like this.
  • Zero Punctuation: In his legendary fake review of "Duke Nukem Forever", Yahtzee accuses the DNF development team of spending 12 years doing nothing but sitting at their desks and burbling their lips all day... and getting paid for it.

    Western Animation 
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: "Pop Goes the Ed" has an unusual example, in that this is how Rolf describes Jimmy's quiche as being bad luck.
    Rolf: It is the food of the [burbles lips]! THE PARTY IS CUUUUURSED! [runs away]
  • Futurama: Bender's Game: When Titanius (Bender) discovers that the King of Wipe Castle (Roberto) is actually insane, he emulates this when he says, "Moving right along. Since I'm the only one here who is not [burbles lips]..."
  • By the end of the The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy episode "Opposite Day", Billy and Mandy pointed out that when they said it was Opposite Day, that meant that it actually was not Opposite Day and that they had tricked him into doing all of their chores. Having spent the whole episode confused beyond his wits, Grim responds by motorboating his lips while hitting his head with a mallet.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "No Free Rides", SpongeBob does this when he finds out that the person trying to steal his new boatmobile was Mrs. Puff.
  • Little Bill: In the episode "The Snack Helper / Buds", Little Bill and his friends look at some buds on a blooming bush during recess. Andrew starts saying the word "Buds" really fast, then burbles his lips. Little Bill laughs and does the same thing. Then everyone does it. They do this again at the end of the episode when they go off to play in the sandbox.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • In "The Stupid Cupid", Daffy is hit by a giant arrow from Cupid, which hits him with such force that he ends up with his beak stuck through a board. He struggles to lift his arm just to burble his lips.
    • In "Falling Hare", Bugs Bunny burbles after being knocked out by the Gremlin.
    Gremlin: I like him. He's silly.
    • Porky's hunting dog burbles after hitting his head on a tree in "A Corny Concerto".
    • In "A Ham in a Role", the cartoon begins and ends with the snooty dog actor doing this after taking a Pie in the Face.
    • A wolf does this after being attacked by a ram in "I Got Plenty of Mutton".
    • In "Tin Pan Alley Cats," a giant pair of disembodied lips come up behind the Fats Waller cat and say "You is out of this world." When the cat turns and asks "Was that you?," The lips say "Could be!" and disappears into the distance burbling all the while.
  • Justice League: The Joker does this in "Wild Cards" when he reveals that Ace has been hypnotizing everyone watching his show.
  • Popeye does this at the end of "Riot in Rhythm".
  • Classic Disney Shorts:
  • Kim Possible: In the episode "Showdown at the Crooked D", one of the effects of Drakken's Silly Hats is the wearer will frequently bat their lips with their finger.
  • Animaniacs: Yakko burbles his lips after encountering a giant Ralph for the first time in the "Warners and the Beanstalk".
  • Tex Avery MGM Cartoons: The lion does this after being driven to madness by a mouse in "The Slap Happy Lion".
  • Tiny Toon Adventures: Montana Max does this at the end of "Paper Trained".
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Stark Raving Dad", Homer does this mockingly after "Michael Jackson" tells him that he wore one white glove covered in rhinestones.
    • In "Meat is Murder", Grampa does this as part of a ploy to appear mentally incompetent in order to have his boardroom vote voided.
  • The Flintstones: In "The Little Stranger", Fred thinks that Wilma is going to have a baby. After the "little visitor" Fred heard about arrives, it turns out to be the Flintstones' paperboy. Fred burbles his lips from the shock of the news.
  • Family Guy: Meg Griffin does this in the "Emmy-Winning Episode".
  • VeggieTales: In the silly song "I Love My Lips", Larry the cucumber does this after he talks about how he would feel if his lips ever left him. However, he doesn’t have hands to burble his lips. So he just motorboats instead. You can hear the voice actor doing this though.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "The Return of Harmony, Part 2", Twilight Sparkle trudges through Ponyville while surrounded by various manifestations of chaos, including a crazy-eyed pony who floats past doing this.
  • The king in the What A Cartoon! Show short "Swamp and Tad: Mission Imfrogable" has lip burbling as part of his name, which is mostly a sequence of sound effects and a dance for unexplained reasons.
  • Scooby-Doo! and the Goblin King: Velma faints in Fred's arms after seeing the supernatural maelstrom the Amazing Krudsky conjured up. She comes out of her stupor long enough to burble her lips before collapsing again.
  • Around the World with Timon & Pumbaa ends with Timon, who just forgot who he is after being hit by lightning, doing this.
  • Sonic Prime: In season one episode four, Sonic the Hedgehog does this as a way of trying to tell Tails that the world is all crazy.
  • Boys Night Out: When Linberg is taken to a strip club by his stepfather, his stepfather tells him not to tell mom, as "she just would not understand". There they meet a priest named Father Jackson, who begs Linberg not to tell his mother because "she just would not understand". After some slapstick shenanigans, Linberg ends up in a room where his mother is working as a stripper instead of being at bible study like she said she would. She tells him not to tell his stepfather or Father Jackson, as "they just would not understand." Hearing this, Linberg materialises a straightjacket and a Napoleon hat and starts burbling his lips while his eyes spin.

    Real Life 
  • Babies do this as part of learning to talk. This is why older people doing it, unless it's to a baby, is seen as a sign that all is not well.


SpongeBob Is Astonished

SpongeBob discovers the identity of the boat thief.

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