Tuesday, April 24, 2007

On Commencement Speeches

I remember that the commence address at the time of my graduation from The Ohio State University, a couple of presidencies ago, was delivered by G.W.Bush (the son). When he gave the speech, he had just won the election but hadn't been sworn in as president. It was during that crucial gap that he came and told us the art of winning by close margins. This time around Bill Clinton is driving through Michigan and oh-by-the-way giving a commencement address. I'd expect him to talk about the perils of cigar/cigarette smoking. But that's just me. Usually commencement speeches are extremely boring and the ceremony agonizingly long. I'd give them a miss and just start my vacation a little bit early. I am not big about putting on the gown and walking up to receive the a diploma. If it looks good on my resume that's usually enough for me. This time around I have decided to make an exception and attend just the business school commencement.
This all seems diminished when a friend pointed me to Conan O'Brien's commence address to the Harvard Class of 2000. Read the entire speech - it made me laugh so much.

So, I was 28 and, once again, I had no job. I had good writing credits in New York, but I was filled with disappointment and didn't know what to do next. I started smelling suede on my fingertips. And that's when The Simpsons saved me. I got a job there and started writing episodes about Springfield getting a Monorail and Homer going to College. I was finally putting my Harvard education to good use, writing dialogue for a man who's so stupid that in one episode he forgot to make his own heart beat. Life was good.

And then, an insane, inexplicable opportunity came my way . A chance to audition for host of the new Late Night Show. I took the opportunity seriously but, at the same time, I had the relaxed confidence of someone who knew he had no real shot. I couldn't fear losing a great job I had never had. And, I think that attitude made the difference. I'll never forget being in the Simpson's recording basement that morning when the phone rang. It was for me. My car was blocking a fire lane. But a week later I got another call: I got the job.

5 comments:

Deepa said...

Walking the aisle? Good for you! And Good Luck.

nithin said...

video of the speech:

http://www.guba.com/watch/3000034406?duration_step=0&fields=23&pp=40&query=conan&sb=10&set=5&sf=0&size_step=0&o=10&sample=1176508165:4fc937d2d016fe8c26f1c6bf55b3c4725d29ea73

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