Al HartTell us a little bit about yourself:

I grew up in the Milwaukee area, came to Madison for college and never left. I’ve been involved with theater since I was a kid, so improv was a natural extension. I met MBI founder Brad Knight when we did a play together at Broom Street Theatre several years ago, and subsequently began taking improv classes through Monkey Business. I joined the group a few years ago and have been fairly active ever since. I’ve been a lawyer, a bartender, a consultant, a craps dealer, and an office administrator, but I haven’t enjoyed any of those roles as much as I have enjoyed being an improviser. I spend a lot of time at the park with my dog, Lena. In addition to doing improv, I flex my creative muscles with the occasional acting role, as well as writing and drawing.

Tell us about your book:
Everything’s Better With Monkeys is an illustrated poem. The premise is that more people would go to art museums if more classic works of art featured monkeys. Each verse mentions a famous painting or two, and is accompanied by my cartoony illustration of the painting, embellished with a particular monkey or ape. For example, “American Gothic” features an orangutan and “The Scream” includes chimpanzees. The book also includes some educational information about the paintings, and the primates featured in them. It’s a hardcover book with full color glossy pages. I am very grateful to all of my friends and family who funded my kickstarter campaign to get the book published.

Why did you decide to write it?
I have been writing poems and drawing for years, with the hope of eventually compiling the material into a book. I still don’t have enough material I am happy with to publish a collection, but this particular piece seemed to have enough potential to be published separately. I wish I had a better story about the inspiration for the poem, but the fact is that if you looked back at my old school notebooks, you’d see that monkeys have always featured prominently in my doodles. One day the idea came to me to combine my art with classic art, and I just ran with it from there.

I first wrote the poem in 2006, and gave it to my significant other as a Christmas present. The 2006 version is in a poster frame, with small illustrations along the borders. Ever since that time, she has encouraged me to turn it into a book. Just last year, I finally got around to re-doing all of the illustrations in a larger format to get ready for publication. I also added a couple of new verses!

Where can we purchase it?
I should have the published books in hand by late June, at which point they will be available at everythingsbetterwithmonkeys.com, and through Amazon. I will also be looking to get my foot in the door with other outlets. In the meantime, if you run into me anywhere, the odds are pretty good that I’ll have a copy or two on me!

Posted in: News

Last updated on: June 17, 2014