Skip to Content

Dance Monkeys Dance (English Lessons)

The following speech is a poem about how humans can complicate their lives with their own thinking. You will find a video to the speech below, with subtitles, and the transcript (text) below that.

How I recommend using this:

  1. Follow along with video, reading, at least once. Aim to understand as much as possible, guessing the words you don’t know.
  2. Go through the text and highlight words that you may not know and look up those words in the dictionary.
  3. Aim to understand the passages – for each section of text, read through and try to understand the idea the speaker is trying to communicate, even if you don’t understand the words.

Please note that not all of the English used in the passage is “proper English”, but most of the English used in this passage is commonly spoken English used in everyday conversation, so understanding this passage will help you communicate better in the future

Review Questions:

  1. Who are “the monkeys”?
  2. What is this passage about?
  3. What does this passage say about happiness?


There are billions of galaxies in the observable universe and each of them contains hundreds of billions of stars

In one of these galaxies, orbiting one of these stars lies a little blue planet and this planet is run by a bunch of monkeys.

Now these monkeys don’t think of themselves as monkeys. They don’t even think of themselves as animals

In fact they love to list all the things that they think separate them from the animals: opposable thumbs, self-awareness

They use words like homo erectus and Australopithecus. You say tomato I say tomato. They’re animals all right.

They’re monkeys. Monkeys with high-speed digital fiber-optic technology, but monkeys nevertheless.

I mean they’re clever, you’ve got to give them that: the pyramids skyscrapers phantom Jets, the Great Wall of China. That’s all pretty, impressive for a bunch of monkeys.

Monkeys whose brains have evolved to such an unmanageable size that it is now pretty much impossible for them to stay happy for any length of time .

In fact, they’re the only animals that think they’re supposed to be happy all of the time.

Other animals can just be happy. But it’s not that simple for the monkeys.

You see the monkeys are cursed with consciousness, so the monkeys are afraid. So the monkeys worry.

The monkeys worry about everything, but mostly about what all the other monkey’s think.

Because the monkeys desperately want to fit in with the other monkey’s…which is pretty hard to do. Because a lot of the monkeys hate each other.

This is really what separates them from the other animals. These monkeys hate.

They hate monkeys that are different, monkeys from different places, monkeys who are a different color

You see, the monkeys feel alone. All six billion of them.

Some of the monkeys pay another monkey to listen to their problems. The monkeys want answers

The monkeys know they’re going to die, so the monkeys make up gods and then they worship them.

Then the monkey start to argue over who’s God is better.

Then the monkeys get really pissed off, and this is usually when the monkeys decide that it’s a good time to start killing each other

So the monkeys wage war. The monkeys make bombs

The monkeys have got their entire planet wired up to explode. The monkeys just can’t help it.

Some of the monkeys play to a sold-out crowd of other monkeys

The monkeys make trophies and then they give them to each other, like it means something.

Some of the monkeys think they’ve got it all figured out.

Some of the monkeys read Nietzsche. Then the monkeys argue about Nietzsche, without ever giving any consideration to the fact that Nietzsche was just another monkey

The monkeys make plans. The monkeys fall in love. The monkeys have sex and then they make more monkeys

The monkeys make music, and then the monkeys dance. Dance monkeys dance.

The monkeys make a lot of noise.

The monkeys have so much potential, if they would only apply themselves

The monkeys shave the hair off their bodies in blatant denial of their true monkey nature

The monkeys build giant monkey hives that they call cities

The monkeys draw a lot of imaginary lines in the dirt

The monkeys are running out of oil, which is what fuels their civilization

The monkeys are polluting and raping their planet like there’s no tomorrow

The monkeys like to pretend that everything is just fine

Some of the monkeys actually believe that the entire universe was created for their benefit

As you can see, these are some messed up monkeys.

These monkeys are at once the ugliest and the most beautiful creatures on the planet

And the monkeys don’t want to be monkeys. They want to be something else

But they’re not.

Original Video: