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.”