Commentary: Commencement Addresses

Commencement Addresses

Graduation Remarks, Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School

They don’t usually vote on the graduating senior least likely to be invited back as the commencement speaker, or for any other reason. But if they had, I was certainly a favorite for the class of 1978.  Nonetheless, the powers-that-be at my old school inquired, and because one of my great childhood friends, Gary Zinkgraf, was going to be there to celebrate his daughter Molly’s graduation, I took the gig : First off, I imagine some of you out there – if you’re familiar with my writing, my rhetoric or my general demeanor – are wondering, can he do a high school graduation? I mean, on an occasion such as this, a certain decorum is required, right? Well, truth is I am under contract at HBO, and the network requires me to use at least one profanity every ten minutes in every possible venue. So those of you expecting pristine commencement remarks, well, you’re shit out of luck. But I’ll try to hold it down as best I can. On the other hand, anyone out there worried that I’ll take into...

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Commencement Addresses

Commencement Address, Georgetown University

The greatest commencement address ever is now more than three decades old. And it’s safe to say it will never be surpassed or even equaled. It belongs to the ages. In 1979, its author summed up the condition of modern man by noting that, quote, more than at any other time in history, humanity is at the crossroads: one path leads to despair and utter hopelessness; the other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly. Unquote. Bang. That’s all she wrote. With that one paragraph, Woody Allen, filmmaker and philosopher-king, made Graduation Day his bitch for all time. No point in any of us trying to bring anything new to this game; Woody has killed it dead. That he never actually gave the remark at any commencement is beside the point. True, it appeared only as a column in the New York Times, but so what? Linked as it is to no actual college or university, Allen’s address is now the preserve of graduates everywhere. It was mine when I slipped the surly bonds...

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