Saturday, June 04, 2011

My commencement speech to the Class of '11

June is the graduation time of year. I guess a hundred years ago those commencement speakers were inspiring and offered thoughts and insights that were new and fresh. But now, Jesus! Be your own person. Never give up. You have a responsibility to society. Success comes from within. Show courage. You can make a difference. Set aside time to smell the roses. Let faith be your guide. Blablablablabla.

I’ve never been asked to be a commencement speaker and that’s probably a good thing because here’s some of the advice I might give:

Live at home with your parents as long as you can. Otherwise you’ll have to find a job. Rents are high. And then there’s laundry, food, and the family big screen.

Know that the music you think is so cool now will be laughed at by future generations.

Same with clothes.

Don’t follow your current favorite group around the country for the next thirty years. That becomes sad year one.

If you are going to honor your dear departed kitty Fluffy with a tattoo make sure all your subsequent pets are also named Fluffy.

Eat bad foods. You’re at an age when you can get away with it. And eat them at midnight. There’s plenty of time in the future for watching your carbs, eating your vegetables, avoiding red meat, and laying off the Yodels and Ring Dings. Soon enough you won’t be able to eat a bite after 8:00 without spending the night in the porcelain canyon . Do you want fries with that? Damn right you do!

Don’t buy SUV’s.

Practice safe and frequent sex. Have many romances and then fall in love when you’re 30.

Go back and study the history of your chosen field. Things actually happened before 1995.

Don’t blame your parents for everything. Your peers screwed you up just as much.

Sleep. It’s better for you than Red Bull.

You can no longer take an "incomplete".

Prepare yourselves. There will come a day – in your lifetime – that they will stop making original episodes of THE SIMPSONS. I know you don't believe me but it's true.

There’s a special bond having shared the school experience together. Stay in touch with your classmates. Even the ones you’ve slept with.

Don’t invest money in video stores.

Read novels that aren’t graphic.

Join communities that aren't virtual.

Save your journal or private diary. In twenty years you’re going to get such laughs.

Dream big but always have contingency plans. And then have contingency plans for your contingency plans.

Keep your student ID card. Use it to get into movies cheaper.

Guys, don’t wear hats. You’ll have plenty of time for that later once you’ve lost your hair.

Never take comedy traffic school.

Buy your alcoholic beverages by the glass or bottle, not the keg.

And finally -- Don’t sweat it if you don’t know what you’re going to do with your life. There’s a good chance the job you'll eventually want hasn’t been invented yet.

Congratulations to the class of '11. Now get out there and don’t fuck up my Social Security.


Anonymous said...

May I add, "and if you hope to be a writer, get a job in Contemporary Hit Radio, take an air name from a famous TV character, hone your craft, learn how to be original when it counts and when to stay faithful to the greatness of your predecessors when its appropriate, work well with others, develop a great reputation for being a team player, don't be afraid to take a job outside of writing once in a while, like maybe baseball play by play, and some day, you might be as great as Ken Levine, a man who uses Emmys for doorstops and Oscars for bookends. ;=)

Aaron Hazouri said...

I would add "think long and hard about whether you want to go to college, and what you're going for." If only someone in high school had cautioned me that perhaps training for a career working for someone else might not be the most fulfilling route to take...

Mac said...

On tattoos, a friend of mine would add - don't get a forearm tattoo that says "Live Fast, Die Young."
He's no longer young and can't wear short sleeves.

Mike Botula said...

I'm a 70 year old ex-radio disk jockey, radio and TV newsguy, press guy, PR person and California bureaucrat who is now a History Major working toward my degree. God, I wish you had been our commencement speaker back at good old Riverhead High. I may just have the whole essay tattooed on my left buttock and ask to be buried face down.
Mike Botula

Mary Stella said...

This would have been so much more interesting than the speech I actually heard at college commencement. I can't even remember the name of the speaker. He was so terminally boring I blocked it out. (Either that or it was the hangover messing with my memory.)

The college gave Jean Stapleton an honorary degree. My graduation speech could have been delivered by Edith Bunker. A better choice, obviously, since at least I remember her!

Ashley said...

This is a little odd, but I teared up at the fact that there will come a time in my lifetime that new Simpsons episodes aren't made. My entire life new episodes have been coming out...You never could last forever!

Larry said...

Excellent advice, but no reason to tell them not to buy SUV's. Only married people with kids buy them.

Johnny Walker said...

Don't be afraid to ask a question.

Don't stop thinking for yourself.

Always remember: You're the one who has to live with the repercussions of decisions. In other words, live for yourself, not to please other people.

Don't let yourself get pressured into doing things.

Don't ever let yourself drift into complaining about the "kids today". If you find yourself doing that, you know you've lost touch with the world around you.

And... Yes, that music you love so much will be uncool and outdated in 10 years time. Sorry, but it's true.

Markus said...

And get off my lawn!

Mary Stella said...

Excellent advice, but no reason to tell them not to buy SUV's. Only married people with kids buy them.

And people with multiple dogs. People who live on islands and need storage room in their vehicles if they have to evacuate ahead of a hurricane
Women who fish and need to tote long or bulky stuff but don't want to drive pickup trucks

Art Ferguson said...

And always...if you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with! Hey, it got me through the 60s and 70s...why NOT today!?

Joseph Scarbrough said...

Were I come from, May is graduation time, so this is a little late for me.

Even moreso, considering I graduated four years ago.

Naz said...

May just say that any commencement speach that's longer 5 minutes long is unbearable for the students and the parents alike.

Cap'n Bob said...

Now that I'm retired I can look back on my spotty, miserable career and see what I did wrong.

I was never a suckass.

Steely Dan said...

Possible Friday Question: I've been re-watching a lot of "Frasier" recently and I'm impressed by how genuinely timeless it is. Both in content as well as visually. Other than the size of Niles' cell phone, there's very little in the show to peg it as being from the that sense it's almost the polar opposite of "The Simpsons." How deliberate was this? Was there an edict in the writers room to stay away from all topical references? And as a writer, how frustrating was it to not make Clinton jokes or OJ jokes or jokes about whatever was in the news that particular year?

Jonah D said...

My tip:
Take more road trips because the journey is usually more pleasurable than the destination.

Paul Duca said...

Actually, it should be "Have safe and frequent sex...just not on the equipment"

(still more useful than "Wear sunscreen")

Sojourner Marable Grimmett said...


Unknown said...

Hahaha! I wish someone had said this to me when I graduated!

Blair Ivey said...

"Make your mistakes now (short of prison). They make great stories when you're older, and you won't be able to afford them then anyway."

Paul Duca said...

We should poll the class of '08 and see if Ken's words have helped them in their beginning steps through life--especially these ones:

And finally -- Be careful when you say you want your generation to change the world. My generation said that and did – we made it worse.