The Commencement Address Dream List

It’s everyone’s favorite time of the year: commencement address season! “I pushed you off a cliff because I’m kind of a dick about stuff, but then you flew, so it worked out OK phew that was close! Good luck finding a job in THIS ECONOMY!” Rousing stuff. Liquid inspiration. There are literally 150,000,000 colleges in this country, all of them teaching students the proper usage of the word “literally,” and that means a lot of commencement addresses, but every year there are a few that stand out. This year we’ve already heard about Mitt Romney’s powerful speech to the graduating class of Liberty University, which it turns out is a real place and not just a throw away joke in an Andy Borowitz Shouts and Murmurs piece. And now people are reporting on Aaron Sorkin’s commencement address at Syracuse University, which is particularly notable because according to one relentless nerd, he plagiarized himself, repeating many choice anecdotes from the commencement speech he gave at Syracuse University in 1997. This is actually a pretty good illustration of how college works: you spend a lot of time and money learning whatever and at the end of it someone much more successful than the majority of your graduating class will ever be shows up and shares some pre-fabricated and often borrowed wisdom, and afterwards, like, ten years later, if you’re very very lucky, you can spend your adult life nitpicking what they said as your job because who cares. Congratulations! Life isn’t fair, obviously, and the commencement address is just another one of the reasons. Some people get Hilary Clinton, and some people get Aaron Sorkin, and some people get the bassist from the Fleet Foxes (probably). My commencement address was delivered by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist David Halberstam, who has since died (R.I.P.) so I’m not allowed to tell you what I really thought of it. It was gracious and beautiful and guided me through all the rest of my days, I’m sure. If you could have or have had anyone deliver your commencement speech, who would it even be? It definitely wouldn’t be whoever actually did it. It wouldn’t even be Aaron Sorkin. Who?! I think my dream commencement speech would be delivered by Hugh Jackman in his Wolverine costume and the actor in him would definitely take over during his anecdote about the oyster who was secretly a pearl or whatever. Or maybe Frieda Pinto. But weirdly none of the other graduates could make it, they all got stuck in traffic, and so I’m just sitting on a fold out chair in the middle of this giant stadium and she’s talking only to me about the seedlings of hope that grow in the soil of experience, and even the deans couldn’t make it so I have to be the one to present her with her Honorary Bachelor’s Degree in Communications.