It’s graduation season, when giddy seniors get words of wisdom from commencement speakers — the more famous, the more newsworthy. We compiled a few of the pearls dropped recently by boldface names into our annual all-purpose keynote address.
I hear I was your second choice after Charlie Sheen. Apparently he was already booked to speak at a warlock convention. (1) Before I get started, I wanted to let you know that if my remarks run long, I promise to take a break and we’ll crank up the music for the Interlude Dance. I’ve been practicing to get that ninja robot part just right. (2) I had to come exactly because I might make a fool of myself. I’ve found that nothing in life is worthwhile unless you take risks. (3)
I can’t believe it, but I was where you are 41 years ago. (4) I did have the rocker look: Rod Stewart’s shaggy hair, super skinny jeans. When I tell my kids about it, they absolutely gag. (5) I’m not sure anyone from my generation has anything to say to your generation except “We’re sorry.”
I have 18 community college credits to my name. I dropped out of every college on that list. (7) You may not be able to recall a certain scientific formula, or recite those verses from Shakespeare. (8) You get on a reality show — don’t know what you’ve done — suddenly you’re famous. But that’s not going to lead to lasting, sustained achievement. (9)
The bigger the thing you want to do the harder you have to work. And, by the way, that’s not just something like becoming president. (10) The secret to my career is that I can’t keep a job. But I think I’ve solved that problem now. (11)
So there you have it — humility, patience and faith and, as always, a few tears from me. (12)
Guess the celebrity speakers? No pop quiz; see footnotes below.
1. Mike Bloomberg, George Washington University, May 15.
2. Michelle Obama, University of Northern Iowa, May 7.
3. Denzel Washington, University of Pennsylvania, May 16.
4. Bill Clinton, NYU, May 18.
5. Jon Huntsman, Southern New Hampshire University, May 21.
6. Bill Moyers, Whittier College, May 13.
7. Brian Williams, Fordham University, May 21.
8. Jill Biden, Montgomery County Community College, May 19.
9. President Obama, Booker T. Washington High School, May 16.
10. Newt Gingrich, Eureka College, May 14.
11. Elena Kagan, University of New Mexico Law School, May 14.
12. John Boehner, Catholic University, May 14.