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Nairobi Trio - Mechanical windup toy gorillas featured on a recurring skit on the comedy program THE ERNIE KOVACS SHOW/CBS/NBC/1952-56.


The Nairobi Trio were actually three human actors dressed in bowler hats, overcoats and rubber gorilla masks who played musical instruments to the beat of the song "Solfeggio." One of them sat at an upright piano, another at a xylophone and the third carried a conductor's baton. At key points during the music, the gorilla with the xylophone hammers, would turn from his xylophone and bang the head/hat of the gorilla conductor like a kettle drum. Ernie Kovac always played the conductor.

The other two gorilla musicians were played by a number of actors including Peter Hanley, Edie Adams (Ernie's Wife), Eddie Hatrak, Barbara Loden, puppeteer Larry Berthelson and occasionally by Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis.

The routine was inspired by the music from the record "Solfeggio" which singer Peter Hanley brought into work one day to accompany his Do, Re, Me singing exercises. After hearing the song just three times, Ernie Kovacs created those masochistic, mechanical monkeys. The Nairobi Trio made their first appearance on THE ERNIE KOVACS SHOW on April 21, 1954.

TRIVIA NOTE:  Ernic Kovacs' antics inspired the name of the popular New Zealand Jazz quartet (later quintet) founded in 1989; and the title of a book "Quitting the Nairobi Trio: a Memoir" written by journalist Jim Knipfel, The book chronicles life in a nuthouse in the 1980s after Knipfel was committed to a mental hospital for six months for hallucinations and repeated suicide attempts. A revelation he has about the Nairobi Trio is a key to Jim’s cure. The book's front cover features one of the Nairobi Trio gorillas with a cigar in its mouth.

On the sitcom FRIENDS/NBC/1994-2004 Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry) stayed up to watch classic Ernie Kovacs reruns that featured the antics of the Nairobi Trio.

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