Chris Rock's 'Madagascar 3' song a YouTube hit

June 7, 2012 at 9:56 AM ET

The tune's as annoyingly addictive as "It's a Small World," but not everyone recognizes the voice behind it. That's comedian Chris Rock as the zebra Marty in the trailer for "Madagascar 3: Escape to Europe," wearing a rainbow wig and belting out the oh-so-catchy "Circus! Afro! Circus! Afro! Polka dot, polka dot, polka dot, Afro!"

But when TODAY's Ann Curry noted that the song had earned 750,000 hits on YouTube, Rock pointed out the obvious: "Isn't it a shame YouTube pays nothin'?" he said.

Curry pointed out with a laugh that his song was making people smile, to which Rock responded, "Pays me in smiles.  ... I can starve on smiles."

Curry also asked Rock what animal he could be if he could choose anything. After considering the lion ("king of the jungle and all that") and the snake ("scare people, sssssss!"), Rock decided he'd stick with Marty the zebra, joking that it was "in honor of our zebra president, black and white, white and black."

"I love our president, you know, but he's black and white, he appeals to all," Rock said. "That's what I'm going for."

Rock later joined the TODAY anchors and a certain happy red Muppet named Elmo on the couch for a rollicking and freespirited discussion -- and couldn't resist getting in a joke at the expense of singer Chris Brown, who'll be on TODAY Friday. "I hope the weather doesn't smack us upside the head tomorrow," Rock announced.

Elmo then took the discussion in a more wholesome direction, urging fans to "like" his Facebook page campaigning for him to carry the Olympic torch (a cardboard version -- 3-year-olds can't handle real fire).

The Muppet then asked Rock to explain what "viral" meant in "viral video," but Rock had a different definition in mind. "Elmo, you can go, but you can't sit in the seat." And later, when Elmo planted a smooch on the cheek of anchor Matt Lauer, Rock warned him to be careful, "You might catch something viral."

"Madagascar 3: Escape to Europe" opens on June 8. Elmo says he'll be there.

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