Following is the full transcript of comedian Mindy Kaling’s 2018 Commencement Speech at Dartmouth.
Mindy Kaling – Speech TRANSCRIPT
Good morning… to the Class of 2018, the faculty, the parents, the grandparents, fellow honorees, and the paid laughers I have scattered throughout the audience.
It is an honor to join you this morning for this special occasion. It is also an honor to speak to you today from behind this gigantic tree stump. Like some sort of female Lorax with an advanced degree. That’s right, you guys, I’m hitting Dr. Seuss hard and early in this speech.
Because Dartmouth grads have a privilege unique among all the Ivy League, we will be forced to be mini experts on Dr. Seuss for our entire lives.
On my deathbed, I’ll be saying “Did you know that his real name was Theodor Geisel? Did you know that he was the editor of the Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern?”
And yes, while no US presidents have gone to Dartmouth, we can at least lay claim to the wonderful Dr. Seuss. Another notable alumnus is Salmon P. Chase, the man on the $10,000 bill, a symbolically powerful piece of paper that’s largely useless in the real world. Like a degree in playwriting, which I received from this very institution.
Thank you for paying for that, Mom and Dad.
It’s a thrill to be back here in New Hampshire, the Granite State, known for two things. The place where you can legally not wear your seatbelt and Adam Sandler’s birthplace.
New Hampshire has one of the best mottos of any state: Live free or die. For outsiders, it sounds like an exciting declaration of freedom, but when you’re here in January, die actually sounds like a pretty good option.
I remember the days when it was so cold, your sneeze would become an ice sculpture before it hit the ground.
In Los Angeles, where I live now, if I sneeze, I just call my doctor and have my blood replaced with that of a teenage track star. That’s normal there. I’m mostly track star right now.
Before I get any further, I should actually probably clarify who I am for the parents and grandparents in the audience who are thinking to themselves “Who is this loud Indian woman? Is that the girl from Quantico? She looks so much worse in person.”
No, no, I’m not Priyanka Chopra. Not even Padma Lakshmi. I’m the other Indian woman we have allowed to be on television, Mindy Kaling.
Thank you, thank you.
You may remember me from my role on The Office as Kelly Kapoor, who internet commenters said was, quote, “shrill.” And, quote, “Took up valuable time that could have gone to Steve Carell.”
I then created and starred in my own TV show, The Mindy Project. Thank you, thank you very much.
It was an uphill battle to get that show on the air but it was worth it, because it enabled me to become Dartmouth’s most successful female minority show creator who has spoken at commencement.
Oh wait, no. Shonda Rhimes went here. Yep, and she’s created like 10 more shows than me, so great, no, cool. Cool, cool, cool, Shonda, friggin’ role model, good for you.
But today is not about famous alumni. No, no.
It is about the men and women who have toiled in obscurity for years so that they might better our country. I speak, of course, of the 51% of Dartmouth grads who will go into finance. Highest in the Ivy League. Look left, look right. All three of you will be spending at least 10 years in a white-collar prison.
I know that going into the real world sounds scary but it’s exciting too.
Finally, you’ll be in control of your own lives. No longer will there be an irrational board of trustees telling you, you can’t have hard liquor on campus. Thank you.
For the ridiculous reason that they don’t want you to die. Come tomorrow, no one can stop you from filling your apartment with $4.99 handles of Uncle Satan’s Unfiltered Potato Vodka. Go crazy.
It’s a real moment of reflection for me to be standing here speaking to all of you now, because it makes me hearken back to my own time at my Dartmouth graduation.
Madeleine Albright was my commencement speaker. And while I don’t remember any specific quotes she said or even a general gist of what she was talking about, I do remember thinking “I wonder what it’ll be like to have my own cell phone.” How things have changed.
For all I know, at this very moment, most of you are posting this speech on your Instagram stories with a GIF of Winnie the Pooh twerking. If you are, please at least use my official hashtag, #MindyGoesBigGreen2018. Thank you.
I bet none of you remember a time before the internet. Hell, you probably don’t even remember a time before the Facebook page Dartmouth Memes for Cold AF Teens. Yeah, yeah, I know about that. Made me feel like a real creep researching it.
Hello, I’m a 38-year old woman who wants to join your teen Facebook group. It’s for research, I swear. Meanwhile, when I was in college, we didn’t even have Google. You wanted to find out, say, how tall Ben Affleck was, you were out of luck. You just had to sit there not knowing and your entire day would be ruined.
Or say I wanted to meet up with a friend. I couldn’t just text her, I had to walk outside and hope I accidentally bumped into her. Or I blitzed her. Ah, BlitzMail.
You know that feeling you have when you tell your friends that you blitz and they don’t get it and roll your eyes all smug like “Oh, it’s a Dartmouth thing.” That ends today.
You try to say blitz 100 yards east of White River Junction and you will get laughed back to your one room triple in the Choates.
Fun fact. In 2001, the year I graduated, a pink eye epidemic broke out amongst my classmates because we were all using public BlitzMail iMac terminals and not washing our hands. Those are just kind of sexy stories indicative of my time at Dartmouth.
You have so many cool new things here now. Like look at the new logo, the D-Pine. It’s beautiful. It reminds me of what college age Mindy thought a marijuana weed might look like but I was too scared to actually find out.
And this new house system, it sounds really cool. It’s so Hogwarts-y. You know, you’re sorted into your little Gryffindors and Ravenclaws, except they’re called South House, West House, School House.
Okay, come on, guys, School House, really? We’re just saying what we see? That’s the laziest name I’ve ever heard in my life and I spent over a decade working on shows called The Office and The Mindy Project.
Still, I remember sitting where you’re sitting. I was so full of questions like “When is thing going to end?” and “How many friends can I invite to dinner and still have Mom and Dad pay?”
And most importantly, “Why didn’t I wear any clothes underneath my gown?”
Now we’re reaching the part of the speech where I’m supposed to tell you something uplifting, like follow your dreams. In general, advice isn’t actually an effective way to change your life.