Ladies, gentlemen, faculty, students — thank you for inviting me to be your commencement speaker.

Boooo!

Wait. I haven’t said anything yet.

Boooo!

Yes, I know I was a last-minute replacement. Your Republican governor couldn’t come because he’s afraid of getting booed. Your Democratic senator couldn’t come because he’s afraid of getting booed. Your rock star alumnus couldn’t come because he once wrote a song for the Dixie Chicks. So they asked me.

Boooo!

Now, I know bad things can happen when schools make a late substitution. Take Rockford College in Illinois. Its last-minute choice, a New York Times war correspondent, delivered a speech denouncing U.S imperialism, Israeli occupation and, for all we know, the Easter Bunny. I say “for all we know” because they pulled the mike plug several times, and blew air horns to drown him out.

Boooo!

Then again, as they say in the news business these days, who believes anything the New York Times says, huh? Huh? Heh-heh . . .

Um . . . that was a joke. Boooo!

Our true idols

I admit, I was a bit nervous. After all, when Phil Donohue spoke at North Carolina State, a number of people walked out. And when Pennsylvania’s Sen. Rick Santorum spoke at St. Joseph’s, people walked out. Ben and Jerry, the ice cream guys? They spoke at Ithaca College — and even they got booed. Maybe they should have handed out free cones.

Boooo!

Then again, these people spoke about war, politics, bombs, the economy. Not one of them even mentioned Ruben from “American Idol.”

YAYYY!

Or Neo from “The Matrix.”

YAYYY!

So when your school called me, just a few hours ago, and begged me to fill in, I thought to myself, in the car ride over, what can I say that is pertinent, inspiring — and won’t get me thrown off stage? So I chose this subject: “Why We Should Do Away with Commencement Speeches.”

YAYYY!

Hot weather and hot air

See, I remember my graduation speaker. By that I mean I remember that we had one. No one actually remembers the speaker. Most of them are long-winded, self-indulgent and opine on an academic subject that few people care about — especially on a hot, sticky, June afternoon.

What I do remember thinking, as I sat and listened to that speech in my wool suit, under my long blue cap and gown, is one overwhelming thought: My underwear is soaked.

YAYYY!

So, to paraphrase Tina Turner, “What’s Talk Got to Do with It?”

YAYYY!

You’re here to pick up your diploma, right? You paid your money, you put in your time, you’re sick of lectures, and let’s face it, you haven’t gone to class since you figured out everything is on the Internet.

YAYYY!

You have your parents here, maybe your grandparents. They’re broiling in the sun, they’re fanning themselves with their programs, all so they can hold up a camera from half a mile away. And when that picture is developed, if it comes out, you won’t be able to tell if it’s you or, or, or . . . Ruben from
“American Idol” —

YAYYY!

— but you’ll have done what you came here for, which is to get that piece of paper, so you can race back to your dorm room before someone steals your Dave Matthews CDs.

YAYYY!

So in closing, I would like to say that this should be the last commencement speech ever given, since nobody likes them and now the speakers need bodyguards.

YAYYY!

Go forth into the world, and maybe someday, many years from now, you’ll give thought to things like poverty, war and the environment. BOOO! Did I say that? I meant “Ruben! Ruben! Ruben!”

YAYYY!

Class dismissed.

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