我要特別感謝貴校校長Nathan O. Hatch，你們叫他Nate Dogg（美國音樂人）、Natty Othe Hatchet（書名《手斧男孩》）、Hatch Adams、Sen. Orrin Hatch（美國參議員）、Angel Dust（天使塵）。只有幾個是我編的，其他都是真的。當然，我們不能忘了各位的家長。為了造就了今天的你們，他們犧牲了太多東西，主要是錢。我敢肯定他們也犧牲了其他東西，但－我猜他們最常提起的就是錢。最重要的是，恭喜你們，2015年畢業生。你們做到了。你們看起來容光煥發，雖然有點尷尬的是，你們全都穿著同樣的衣服。確實，甚至所有配件都相同，每個人都掛著黑色與金色的流蘇。或是藍色和白色？祖父母們，不懂沒關係，你們只要知道這是代溝問題。你們有越戰，你們的孫輩有顏色模棱兩可的tumblr照片。
我很自豪擔任今天的畢業演講嘉賓，因為我知道我追隨的是傑出前人的腳步。去年你們聽了《紐約時報》總編輯Jill Abramson的演講，不幸的是，她在演講之前五天丟了工作。不知道我的新工作是否有著落，你們知道嗎？拜託告訴我一聲，我實在很需要錢，我孩子還在唸大學。當然，對各位畢業生來說，未來的不確定性就像打哈欠時張開的大口一樣深不見底。不過別擔心，你們大約在兩個鐘頭內不需面對未來。先吃頓早午餐，再面對如打哈欠般的不確定性。但目前你們仍依偎在維克弗斯特美好而令人欣慰的懷抱。關於這所學校的創立有個有趣的故事。維克弗斯特創辦人Samuel Wait當時正試著為另一所學校籌募資金，但他的馬在途中逃跑，他被困在附近，因此當地人要求他領導當地的新大學。那是個單純的時代，在那個時代他們只是把大學交給坐騎最近逃跑的人。這個人控制不了他的坐騎？他肯定能教我們一些東西。當然，維克弗斯特，或「怪人弗」－Kersh教務長叮嚀我不要這麼稱呼－並非一直是像現在這樣純粹的學術機構。它創立時有個魅力十足的名字：「維克弗斯特勞動所」。學生得花半天時間在田裡勞動，第一批學生只有16人，其中一個只有12歲，但他是個奇才，他搬糧袋的技術已達大學程度。
Good morning. Oh, what a day. What a lovely day. It’s a pleasure to be addressing the Wake Forest graduating Class of 2015. I want to start by thanking the administration and the Trustees for inviting me to speak. I want to thank them for giving me an honorary Doctorate of Humanities. I’m a huge fan of humans. And I have to thank them for this thing around my neck. There’s nothing you want on a chilly day like today than a nice scarf.
I especially want to thank the University president, Nathan O. Hatch, known to you as Nate Dawg, Natty O, the Hatchet, Hatch Adam, Sen. Orrin Hatch, Angel Dust. And I only made a couple of those up.
Of course, we mustn’t forget the parents, who, to get you students to this day, have sacrificed so many things, primarily money. I’m sure there are other things they’ve sacrificed, but I’m gonna guess that money’s the one they bring up most often.
Most importantly, congratulations to you, the Class of 2015. You did it.
And you look amazing. Although it’s a little embarrassing you all showed up in the same outfit. Really. Even all the accessories are the same. Everyone has a black and gold tassel. Or, is it blue and white? Grandparents, just know this was the issue that divided a generation. You had the Vietnam War. Your grandchildren had an ambiguously colored Tumblr post.
I am so proud to be your Commencement speaker today, cause I know I am following in some impressive footsteps. Last year, you heard from New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson, who, unfortunately, lost her job just five days before her speech. Is there something you know about my new job that I don’t? Please. Just tell me. I really need that money. I have kids in college.
Of course for you grads, the future is a dark chasm of yawning uncertainty. But don’t worry. You don’t have to face the future for like two hours — first brunch then yawning uncertainty. But for now, you are still nestled in the beautiful, comforting bosom of Wake Forest.
There’s an interesting story about how this institution came to be. The father of Wake Forest, Samuel Wait, was trying to raise money for a different school, but during his travels his horse ran off, and he became stranded nearby. So the locals asked him to lead their new university. It was a simpler time. Back then, they just handed out universities to whoever’s horse had run off most recently. This man has no control over his animals? Surely, he has something to teach us all.
Of course, Wake Forest or Wack Fo as I’ve been asked by Provost Kersh not to call it, wasn’t always the purely academic institution it is today. It was founded as the seductively named Wake Forest Manual Labor Institute. And students spent half their day toiling in the fields. The first class had just 16 students, one of them just 12 years old. But, he was a prodigy. He could haul sacks of grain at a college level.
我想提出一項我喜愛「用衛生紙裝飾校園」的理由：它真的黏在樹上。我是指把處理過的紙漿掛在它的親戚身上？這傳遞了一個殘酷的訊息，這就像拿皮包丟鱷魚，或拿琴鍵丟大象。我們談談校園裸奔。有人的禮袍下一絲不掛嗎？沒有？只有我，好吧。你們不僅是少數有校園裸奔傳統的學校，還在現場設置24小時直播攝影機。拜託，在直播攝影機前裸體，沒搞錯吧？你們年輕人知道這是不對的，這應該是你們快傳給彼此的畫面。你們還有一項與人物有關的校園傳統，我想請大家給校園理髮師Dean Shore一個歡呼。（歡呼聲）他在那裡，Dean就在那裡。事實上他最初是透過Facebook聯繫我，就在我飛機降落的那一刻。他是很多學生的朋友，也是舊時代的產物。因為當最出名的當地名人是理髮師時，基本上你身處的是中世紀村莊。（笑聲）但在所有當地名人中，沒有人比你們的吉祥物Demon Deacon更出名。人人都愛Deacon，當他騎機車出現在籃球比賽現場時，群眾陷入瘋狂，只有真正球迷的熱情或在密閉空間吸入機車廢氣才會引發的那種瘋狂。（笑聲）
Back then, of course, if you didn’t get into the Wake Forest Manual Labor Institute, you could always settle for the North Carolina Crushing Toil Academy, which now, of course, is known as UNC.
Wake Forest has always been a leader. In the late 19th century, this was among the first Southern schools to teach biology in a lab. Before then, you weren’t supposed to learn biology until marriage.
In 1962, Wake Forest had the proud distinction of being the South’s first major private school to integrate. And, yes…they’ve kept it up. All right. Good. Good. You don’t know these days. You don’t know.
Even now, Wake Forest is a trailblazer. You were America’s first top 30 school to make standardized testing optional. The implications are huge. Consider this: In a group of 30 applicants, where 15 took the SATs, 10 took the ACTs and five took no test, calculate the ratio between…actually, forget it. You all didn’t have to know any of that stuff.
Still, while Wake has been a trailblazer, this is a school that respects tradition. Traditions like rolling the Quad with toilet paper after big wins. And this is actually an eco-friendly tradition because, looking at this season’s win-loss record, you guys saved a lot of paper.
Let me win you back. Duke sucks.
I do want to say one thing that I love about rolling the Quad. It really sticks it to the trees. I mean, covering a tree with the processed pulp of its relatives? That sends a harsh message. That’s like throwing wallets at an alligator or flinging piano keys at an elephant.
Speaking of the Quad. Streaking. Is anyone here naked under their robes? No? Just me. Ok. You are the rare school that not only streaks your Quad; you also have a 24-hour live webcam pointed at it. Come on. Naked on a webcam, really? You young people know that’s wrong. Those are the kind of pictures you’re supposed to Snapchat to each other.
You people also have campus traditions that are people. I want to give a shout out to Mr. Dean Shore, the University barber. There he is. Right there. Dean actually contacted me first by sending me a Facebook request the minute my plane landed. He is a friend to so many students, and a real throwback to a simpler time because when your biggest local celebrity is a barber, you’re basically a medieval village.
But of all the local celebrities, none is more famous than your mascot, the Demon Deacon. Everybody loves the Deacon. When he rides out on his motorcycle during basketball games, the crowd erupts with a madness that can come only from the passion of true fans or from inhaling motorcycle fumes in an enclosed space.
Clearly, Wake Forest has come a long way since it was a labor school founded by a horseless drifter. But as great as Wake Forest is, Wake is your past now. It is my responsibility as a commencement speaker to prepare you for what awaits you in the future.
Here it is: No one has any idea what’s going to happen. Not even Elon Musk. That’s why he’s building those rockets. He wants a ‘Plan B’ on another world.
But whatever happens, I think it’s entirely appropriate that I’m the one talking to you right now. Because I just spent many years learning to do one thing really well. I got so comfortable with that place, that role, those responsibilities that it came to define how I saw myself. But now that part of my life is over. It’s time to say goodbye to the person we’ve become, we’ve worked so hard to perfect, and to make some crucial decisions about who we’re going to be. For me, I’ll have to figure out how to do an hour-long show every night. And you, at some point, will have to sleep. I am told the Adderall wears off eventually. Good luck.
But this uncertainty is not new to your generation. The future is always uncertain. The only thing we can be sure will happen in 2016 is that we’ll elect a new president. And that between now and then, about this many people will run as the Republican nominee. Yes, you are graduating into an election year, which is the technical term for “two years before an election.” A lot of candidates will be vying for your attention, and you will perform the ultimate civic duty: deciding for whom you will swipe left and for whom you will swipe right. Because I think we’re voting on Tinder now. At least the Republicans are. Democrats might be voting on Grindr. I don’t know.
And with all these people appealing to you, you’re going to have to learn pretty damn quick how to tell the difference between hype and substance. So to keep folks from selling you things and ideas that aren’t true, you will need a well calibrated BS detector. And luckily, I’m selling them today for the low, low price of just $89.95. Order now and I’ll include an anti-flim-flam travel case. That’s Stephen Colbert’s BS detector. If you buy it, that means you needed it.
And if there’s one thing you need even more, it’s your own set of standards. It may seem counterintuitive now, but once you leave here, you may miss being graded on all your work. Because when you’re out of school, there are no objective criteria for achievement anymore.
People my age will sometimes say to you, “Hey, that work you did, that thing you said, that cause you championed, it’s not good.” Well, having your own standards will help you weather moments like that. Having your own standards allows you to perceive success where others may see failure.
I’m reminded of one famous inventor who was ridiculed for his dream. But flash forward 15 years to the day. And do we or do we not now all ride Segways to work? We do not, but they are featured prominently in the movie Paul Blart: Mall Cop. That’s good, too.
Here’s another example. Over the years, I have given my work a lot of thought. I have my own standard for success now. I have a pretty good idea of what jokes will get laughs and a pretty good idea of what jokes may be iffy. But I’m going to say them anyway because I kind of like how iffy they are. Those who have watched my show over the years know I have made that decision many times. But having my own standards is why I could keep going at times when no one laughed or when I thought the person I was interviewing might throw a punch at me. It’s also why the epitaph on my tombstone will probably read, “Well, I thought it was funny.”
Of course, any standards worth having will be a challenge to meet. And most of the time, you will fall short. But what is nice about having your own set of standards is that from now on, you fill out your own report card. So do yourself a favor: Be an easy grader. Score yourself on a curve. Give yourself extra credit. You have the power. You are your own professor now. Which I know is a little creepy because that means you’re showering with your professor. But you have tenure. They can’t fire you.
So I hope you find the courage to decide for yourself what is right and what is wrong. And then, please expect as much of the world around you. Try to make the world good according to your standards. It won’t be easy. Get ready for my generation to tell you everything that can’t be done — like ending racial tension, or getting money out of politics, or lowering the world’s carbon emissions. And we should know they can’t be done. After all, we’re the ones who didn’t do them.
Your job, Pro Humanitate, is to prove us wrong. Because if you don’t prove us wrong, then forget everything I’ve been saying.
And instead, I’d like to leave you with a bit of wisdom I picked up from a documentary I saw this weekend: Mad Max: Fury Road. All you young people really need to succeed in the future is a reliable source of fuel and a fanatical cadre of psychopathic motorcycle killers. May you ride eternal, shiny and chrome.
Thank you for the honor of addressing you. And congratulations again to the Wake Forest Class of 2015.