Conan O’Brien, “the most intelligent of the late-night comics,” delivered the commencement address at Dartmouth College’s 2011 Commencement ceremony on Sunday morning, June 12.
Below is the full text of the speech by Conan O’Brien.
Listen to the MP3 Audio here: Conan O’Brien Delivers Dartmouth’s Commencement Address
I’ve been living in Los Angeles for two years, and I’ve never been this cold in my life.
I will pay anyone here $300 for GORE-TEX gloves. Anybody? I’m serious. I have the cash.
Before I begin, I must point out that behind me sits a highly admired President of the United States and decorated war hero while I, a cable television talk show host, has been chosen to stand here and impart wisdom.
I pray I never witness a more damning example of what is wrong with America today.
Graduates, faculty, parents, relatives, undergraduates, and old people that just come to these things: Good morning and congratulations to the Dartmouth Class of 2011.
Today, you have achieved something special, something only 92% of Americans your age will ever know: a college diploma. That’s right, with your college diploma you now have a crushing advantage over 8% of the workforce.
I’m talking about dropout losers like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg. Incidentally, speaking of Mr. Zuckerberg, only at Harvard would someone have to invent a massive social network just to talk with someone in the next room.
LIFE IS NOT FAIR
My first job as your commencement speaker is to illustrate that life is not fair. For example, you have worked tirelessly for four years to earn the diploma you’ll be receiving this weekend.
That was great.
And Dartmouth is giving me the same degree for interviewing the fourth lead in Twilight. Deal with it.
Another example that life is not fair: if it does rain, the powerful rich people on stage get the tent. Deal with it.
I would like to thank President Kim for inviting me here today. After my phone call with President Kim, I decided to find out a little bit about the man.
He goes by President Kim and Dr. Kim. To his friends, he’s Jim Kim, J to the K, Special K, JK Rowling, the Just Kidding Kimster, and most puzzling, “Stinky Pete.”
He served as the chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, spearheaded a task force for the World Health Organization on Global Health Initiatives, won a MacArthur Genius Grant, and was one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2006.
Good God, man, what the hell are you compensating for?
Seriously. We get it. You’re smart.
By the way Dr. Kim, you were brought to Dartmouth to lead, and as a world-class anthropologist, you were also hired to figure out why each of these graduating students ran around a bonfire 111 times.
But I thank you for inviting me here, Stinky Pete, and it is an honor. Though some of you may see me as a celebrity, you should know that I once sat where you sit.
Literally. Late last night I snuck out here and sat in every seat. I did it to prove a point: I am not bright and I have a lot of free time.
But this is a wonderful occasion and it is great to be here in New Hampshire, where I am getting an honorary degree and all the legal fireworks I can fit in the trunk of my car.
You know, New Hampshire is such a special place. When I arrived, I took a deep breath of this crisp New England air and thought, “Wow, I’m in the state that’s next to the state where Ben and Jerry’s ice cream is made.”
But don’t get me wrong, I take my task today very seriously.
When I got the call two months ago to be your speaker, I decided to prepare with the same intensity many of you have devoted to an important term paper. So late last night, I began.
I drank two cans of Red Bull, snorted some Adderall, played a few hours of Call of Duty, and then opened my browser.
I think Wikipedia put it best when they said “Dartmouth College is a private Ivy League University in Hanover, New Hampshire, United States.”
Thank you and good luck.
To communicate with you students today, I have gone to great lengths to become well-versed in your unique linguistic patterns. In fact, just this morning I left Baker Berry with my tripee Barry to eat a Billy Bob at the Bema when my flitz to Francesca was Blitz jacked by some d-bag on his FSP.
Yes, I’ve done my research. This college was named after the Second Earl of Dartmouth, a good friend of the Third Earl of UC Santa Cruz and the Duke of the Barbizon School of Beauty.
Your school motto is “Vox clamantis in deserto,” which means “Voice crying out in the wilderness.”
This is easily the most pathetic school motto I have ever heard.
Apparently, it narrowly beat out “Silently Weeping in Thick Shrub” and “Whimpering in Moist Leaves without Pants.”
Your school color is green, and this color was chosen by Frederick Mather in 1867 because, and this is true– I looked it up — it was the only color that had not been taken already.” I cannot remember hearing anything so sad.
Dartmouth, you have an inferiority complex, and you should not. You have graduated more great fictitious Americans than any other college. Meredith Grey of Grey’s Anatomy. Pete Campbell from Mad Men. Michael Corleone from The Godfather.
In fact, I look forward to next years’ Valedictory Address by your esteemed classmate, Count Chocula. Of course, your greatest fictitious graduate is Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Man, can you imagine if a real Treasury Secretary made those kinds of decisions? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.
Now I know what you’re going to say, Dartmouth, you’re going to say, well “We’ve got Dr. Seuss.” Well guess what, we’re all tired of hearing about Dr. Seuss.
Face it: The man rhymed fafloozle with saznoozle. In the literary community, that’s called cheating.
Your insecurity is so great, Dartmouth, that you don’t even think you deserve a real podium. I’m sorry. What the hell is this thing? It looks like you stole it from the set of Survivor: Nova Scotia.
Seriously, it looks like something a bear would use at an AA meeting.
No, Dartmouth, you must stand tall. Raise your heads high and feel proud. Because if Harvard, Yale, and Princeton are your self-involved, vain, name-dropping older brothers, you are the cool, sexually confident, lacrosse playing younger sibling who knows how to throw a party and looks good in a down vest.
Brown, of course, is your lesbian sister who never leaves her room. And Penn, Columbia, and Cornell — well, frankly, who gives a shit.
Yes, I’ve always had a special bond with this school. In fact, this is my second time coming here.
When I was 17 years old and touring colleges, way back in the fall of 1980, I came to Dartmouth. Dartmouth was a very different place back then. I made the trip up from Boston on a mule and, after asking the blacksmith in West Leb for directions, I came to this beautiful campus.
No dormitories had been built yet, so I stayed with a family of fur traders in White River Junction. It snowed heavily during my visit and I was trapped here for four months.