Ernie Kovacs: The King Of Early Television Comedy
From 1950 until he died in an auto accident in 1962, Ernie Kovacs created some of the most inventive and unusual television ever made. A new Shout! Factory DVD boxed set collects more than 13 hours of the TV pioneer’s best and rarest programs. Fresh Air’s TV critic David Bianculli, who also teaches television history at Rowan University, couldn’t be more thrilled.
If you don’t know who Ernie Kovacs is, and never saw his brilliantly bizarre TV specials, hearing the Italian song “Solfeggio” won’t be associated with any specific images. But if you know Ernie, you’re doubtlessly conjuring up pictures of one of his signature recurring bits, The Nairobi Trio. It’s nothing more than three people wearing gorilla masks, pretending to play the song while one of them, the conductor, gets hit over the head at the end of each verse.