The best commencement speech of 2012
Commencement season is wrapping up and everyone’s coming out with their “Best Commencement Speeches of 2012″ lists — all with the usual suspects, of course: Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Mitt Romney, Michael Bloomberg, Brian Williams, Katie Couric, Oprah Winfrey…yeah, yeah, yeah, a few jokes, some heartfelt platitudes, lots of security. Yawn. But our hands-down absolute favorite of 2012 — and one you won’t find on most of these lists — is comedian Eugene Mirman speaking at his old alma mater Hampshire College, that flaming-liberal-hipster college that let’s you make up your own major. He chose to major in comedy. This speech proves it actually worked. And how can you not adore a keynote commencement address that includes the phrase “fuck that”?
Here’s the main takeaway of his motivational talk: “just because you move to some city and there’s not a job, make that job…get a bunch of friends together and make something and do it.” Side note: I (Lo) actually had the pleasure of watching Eugene do just that a few years after he graduated in 1992. He got some friends together — I was a friend of a friend — and on a shoestring budget created the most absurdist comedy biweekly newspaper in Boston called The Weekly Week (my favorite column: Advice from a Pimp). I remember copyediting it on the weekends with my little Chicago Manual of Style and attending editorial “meetings” in some contributor’s shitty little apartment on the outskirts of town. But he did it, against all odds, against all sense, against all notions of traditional comedy (“Snakes Are Everywhere!” followed two weeks later by the retraction “Snakes NOT Everywhere”). And even if I hadn’t known Eugene way back when and had no eminence by association to gain from mentioning him, his commencement address would still be the best one of 2012.