Patton Oswalt to William & Mary’s Graduating Class: “You Poor Bastards,” “You Do Not Have a Choice But to Be Anything But Extraordinary”

Pat­ton Oswalt, William & Mary, Class of 1991, grad­u­at­ed with a 2.8 GPA “into a world full of triv­ia and silli­ness and fun.”

The Class of 2023, he observed in a recent keynote address at his alma mater, is poised to enter a “hellscape where you will have to fight for every scrap of your human­i­ty and dig­ni­ty.”

The come­di­an sea­soned his speech with jokes, but its “hard truth” is one that could find favor with activist Gre­ta Thun­berg — name­ly that the inat­ten­tion, apa­thy, and blithe waste­ful­ness of his gen­er­a­tion, and all gen­er­a­tions that came before have sad­dled today’s young peo­ple with a seri­ous­ly messed up plan­et:

Your con­cerns as you stum­ble out into real­i­ty tomor­row are mas­sive. Democ­ra­cy is crum­bling. Truth is up for grabs. The planet’s try­ing to kill us and lone­li­ness is dri­ving every­one insane.

The good news?

Your gen­er­a­tion has rebelled against every bad habit of mine and every gen­er­a­tion that came before it. Every­thing that we let cal­ci­fy, you have kicked against and demol­ished.

He sees a stu­dent body will­ing to bat­tle apa­thy, alien­ation, and cru­el­ty, who insist on inclu­sion and open­ness about men­tal health.

(By con­trast he was a “lit­tle daf­fodil” who angri­ly took his Physics for Poets prof to task for hav­ing com­mit­ted an inac­cu­ra­cy involv­ing Star Trek’s chain of com­mand on the final exam.)

The for­mer Eng­lish major man­gles a quote from author Ger­ald Kirsch’s 1938 short sto­ry Bus­to is a Ghost, Too Mean to Give Us a Fright!

The real quote is:

…there are men whom one hates until a cer­tain moment when one sees, through a chink in their armour, the writhing of some­thing nailed down and in tor­ment.

The para­phrased sen­ti­ment retains its pow­er, how­ev­er, and his slop­py fact check­ing squares with his por­tray­al of him­self as a lack­adaisi­cal B- stu­dent.

Return­ing to cam­pus 32 years lat­er as a suc­cess­ful writer, actor and come­di­an, he exhorts the most aca­d­e­m­ic mem­bers of the Class of 2023 to take a cue from their peers whose GPAs were less than stel­lar, “the day­dream­ers, the con­fused, and the seek­ers:”

There are peo­ple out there who want to man­age every moment. They want to divvy up every dream, and they want to com­mod­i­fy every crazy cre­ative caprice that springs out of your cra­ni­um. Don’t let them. Be human in all of its bed­lam and beau­ty and mad­ness and mer­cy for as long as you can and in any way you can.

He may have dashed off his address in his hotel room the night before the cer­e­mo­ny, but he dri­ves his point home with an inge­nious Hol­ly­wood insid­er ref­er­ence that may send the entire class of 2023, their fam­i­lies, pro­fes­sors, and you, dear read­er, rush­ing to view (or revis­it) the 1982 sci fi clas­sic, Blade Run­ner.

As to why Oswalt mer­its the hon­orary degree William & Mary con­ferred on him, fel­low alum and Ted Las­so showrun­ner Bill Lawrence has a the­o­ry:

I guess it’s because he didn’t real­ly deserve the degree he got when he was here.

via Boing­Bo­ing

Relat­ed Con­tent 

John Waters’ RISD Grad­u­a­tion Speech: Real Wealth Is Life With­out A*Holes

‘This Is Water’: Com­plete Audio of David Fos­ter Wallace’s Keny­on Grad­u­a­tion Speech (2005)

“Wear Sun­screen”: The Sto­ry Behind the Com­mence­ment Speech That Kurt Von­negut Nev­er Gave

– Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and author, most recent­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Famous: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo and Cre­ative, Not Famous Activ­i­ty Book. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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Comments (35)
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  • Dummy says:

    Why is every­thing nuclear with Hol­ly­wood and the media?? “The world’s a hor­ri­ble place for us mil­lion­aires” “the world’s gonna burn” gtfo

  • Mike says:

    There’s nev­er been an eas­i­er time in his­to­ry to be “extra­or­di­nary “.

  • Obi Wan Solo says:

    How G‑Damn depress­ing, to have your $70,000 per year school, pick this worth­less, moron­ic slob, as your grad­u­a­tion speak­er!

  • Rosary DeMello says:

    You must be very proud of your­self. You hide behind a key­board and have the audac­i­ty to call an invi­tee speak­er worth­less. Brave. The pow­er you think you pos­sess! You must imag­ine YOU are above some­how. And yet you haven’t been asked to speak!

  • OC says:

    Hey there,

    We’re get­ting a lot of vis­i­tors to this post today. Just curi­ous, where are you all com­ing from? Google News or some­thing else?


  • Mike Walker says:

    Just anoth­er clown. Hard-work­ing, decent peo­ple who still remem­ber the dif­fer­ence between right and wrong, do not agree with hard­ly any­thing you say.

  • OC Reader says:

    Answer­ing OC ques­tion: speak­ing for myself, I came in from my android device’s news aggre­ga­tor. (I.e. Swipe right on home screen). Thanks for the con­tent.

  • OC Reader says:

    …think it’s called “Google Feed” or some such. Thanks again!!

  • Lightning1 says:

    So my gen­er­a­tion messed up the world and Gre­ta Thund­berg’s is going to fix it. My gen­er­a­tion drank from a foun­tain, hers drinks from a small plas­tic bot­tle. Mine put food in a biodegrad­able paper bag, her’s orders food packed in 6 pounds of plas­tic mate­ri­als. Mine made one trip to the store a week, her’s demands con­ve­nience and makes sev­er­al per day. Mine real­ized that not every­one is a super­star, her’s has every­one being SPECIAL and a super­star. So who is mess­ing up this world?

  • Jeff says:

    Every­thing you said her gen­er­a­tion does was cre­at­ed by pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions, not hers.

  • C5pilot says:

    Her’s has­n’t real­ly cre­at­ed any­thing yet. Except angst over some­thing that was always chang­ing for mil­lenia. The only thing they don’t under­stand is its not man-made, oops.…

  • Lightning1 says:

    Mine also accept­ed respon­si­bil­i­ty for mis­takes, her’s blames every­one else!

  • STFu I am right says:

    Peo­ple like you wouldn’t let him speak of you had the pow­er to stop him.

  • OC says:

    Thanks for let­ting us know!

  • Cobra says:

    I cant decide of this was sup­posed to be inspi­ra­tional or depress­ing. When I grad­u­at­ed in 2005 the com­mence­ment speak­er went on for 20 min­utes about how we all need to fig­ure out how to do busi­ness in Chi­na. I thought it was stu­pid at the time… but by 2012 I was doing just that to my enor­mous finan­cial ben­e­fit.

    What does Oswald give them? False solu­tions to real prob­lems and a bunch of smoke blown up thi­er butts. This gen­er­a­tion may not have the lux­u­ry to fol­low such vapid fools. Pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions may have had thi­er quirks but at least the lead­ers were seri­ous peo­ple.

  • Edward says:

    Unclench dude…….

  • Evan says:

    Exact­ly. A moron. But they picked him. These once pres­ti­gious Uni­ver­si­ties are fast becom­ing moral and intel­lec­tu­al waste­lands, most notably in the social sci­ences.

  • Al says:

    He’s right though, a 2.8 gpa , he is a moron!

  • Rondo Drinker says:

    Who picked this ding dong to be a keynote speak­er? Can you imag­ine the con­ver­sa­tion? They’re all sit­ting around a table spit­balling names … Nik­ki Haley, Ele­na Kagan, War­ren Buf­fett, when some­one goes hey I know, Pat­ton Oswalt! HAHAHAHAHAHA what a pathet­ic joke!

  • Flabbergasted123 says:

    Wow all you alt right trolls cling­ing to the wors­en­ing fas­cist dystopia you cre­at­ed with that hor­ri­ble excuse for a fake pres­i­dent drumpf.

    You do know that pulling your­self up by your boot­straps was meant as a deroga­to­ry state­ment right? Oh wait half of you can’t read so what’s the point of me explain­ing it. Adding insult to injury is the fact he does­n’t care about any of you because you are too poor to be any part of his mas­ter plan to enrich him­self and his cronies.

    I always get a chuck­le when I hear all you mag­a­tards whine about antifa like they are the bad peo­ple. Let’s just pre­tend you trai­tors did not try to take over the coun­try after a failed vote by tiny hands drumpf. If minori­ties tried the same thing they would have been shot or arrest­ed for trea­son, and sum­mar­i­ly exe­cut­ed after a sham tri­al. But hey white priv­i­lege isn’t a thing.

    Solar bad, oil good! CO2 keeps us warm! Trick­le down eco­nom­ics works because bil­lion­aires know best. 150 years till the plan­et dies? I won’t be around that long so who cares amiright?

    NobOdY wAnTs tO wORk! Ya no thanks to crap and stag­nant wages. I don’t want 10 room­mates in a house owned by a hedge fund with 15% rate increas­es every year. It’s fun­ny because all you trail­er park mag­a­tards pay the very peo­ple you put in office to exploit you. All it took for them to steal your free­dom was a scape­goat that they invent­ed. Oh wait I keep for­get­ting you guys are not edu­cat­ed enough to read a book that does­n’t have pic­tures in it.

    You wan­na know why we have ille­gal immi­gra­tion? Because we need ille­gal labor to sus­tain our food pro­duc­tion. We will nev­er have a path to legal work­ers because then they get rights and can’t be exploit­ed. Your idiot com­man­der in queef wants you angry so you won’t notice that he is the one steal­ing your jobs and your tax­es. God knows you won’t pick straw­ber­ries for $1 a bushel. You would rather be wel­fare kings and queens and then blame immi­grants for steal­ing jobs you know you would nev­er do in the first place. Oh and here is the kick­er, repub­li­cans stole your jobs with NAFTA (signed by Bush).

    It’s hilar­i­ous that you keep vot­ing in the very peo­ple that keep steal­ing from you every elec­tion cycle. And you hap­pi­ly accept your own exploita­tion in exchange for some made up cri­sis against *insert minor­i­ty of choice here*.

    Your gen­er­a­tion has done and con­tin­ues to do incal­cu­la­ble dam­age to the only home we all have, but we are the prob­lem some­how for point­ing it out.

  • greatbiglib says:

    Amen to your com­men­tary on immi­grant labor. Any­one who thinks that they are not reliant upon it bet­ter start train­ing for the aba­toir. And very few will have the stom­ach for it. Close the bor­ders and starve, you morons.

  • Flabbergasted123 says:

    I don’t want to do that kind of labor for sure. But that’s the whole point though.

  • Lightning1 says:

    Flab­ber­gast­ed, be hap­py. You won the last 2 elec­tions. The house does­n’t count because RINOs dilute true repub­li­can con­trol. So tell me, how are things now ver­sus 4 years ago?

  • Flabbergasted123 says:

    I’m guess­ing you are also a vic­tim of the Amer­i­can edu­ca­tion sys­tem since you think our cur­rent pres­i­dent is a vic­to­ry. Ram­pant infla­tion (repub­li­cans did that), low pay (repub­li­cans sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly destroy labor pro­tec­tions), absurd stu­dent loan cir­cus (repub­li­cans can steal PPP mon­ey and get it wiped away no prob­lem though), the trav­es­ty of roe v wade get­ting repealed (repub­li­tards strike again), clarence thomas (guess who), tay­lor greene, boe­bert, kennedy, desan­tis, rand paul, mcconnell. Yes I’m real hap­py for more inept polit­i­cal grid­lock while crony cap­i­tal­ism drains our nation. At least the US and Mex­i­co have one thing in com­mon… Cor­rup­tion is alive and well. The old PRI par­ty del­e­gates from Mex­i­co wish they could have got­ten away with what is hap­pen­ing in the home of the brave.

    I’m sure our found­ing fathers total­ly want­ed us to recre­ate the very con­di­tions that we are now liv­ing in that they them­selves sailed across the sea to escape. They were no saints either, but believe me when I say slav­ery is alive and well. They just put a neat lit­tle fla­vor­ing on it called non infla­tion adjust­ed min­i­mum wage. You think home prices sky rock­et­ing is a coin­ci­dence? Nope they want to bury you in inescapable debt so they can con­tin­ue fleec­ing you with rent, high inter­est debt, and every com­mod­i­ty the aver­age sheep in Amer­i­ca needs to live their seden­tary lifestyle. But you idiots hap­pi­ly eat from the trough because you don’t know or care about the con­se­quences of inac­tion.

    We are most def­i­nite­ly taxed with­out rep­re­sen­ta­tion since those clowns don’t give a fly­ing fid­dle about their actu­al con­stituents. If they had to get patch­es for every cor­po­rate donor they took mon­ey from, Nascar would be jeal­ous.

    Don’t tread on me became please tread on me, but tell me who to hate.

    In the infa­mous words of drumpf “SAD!”

  • As the World Turns says:

    Dear Flab­ber­gast­ed, please make an appoint­ment with your psy­chi­a­trist to dis­cuss your anger issues ASAP before you have a stroke or heart attack. I was going to address your dia­tribe point by point but decid­ed to put my time to bet­ter use. In sum­ma­ry, this col­lege grad is a pro­duc­tive mem­ber of soci­ety who pays her bills, owns her home, put her daugh­ter through col­lege and hasn’t asked once for Joe Biden to pay off a stu­dent loan. I am smart enough to know that the cli­mate has been chang­ing on Earth since the begin­ning. Every cli­mate study ever done was spon­sored by some­one who had a mon­e­tary inter­est. Do your research. Also, maybe you can go live on Mars when Elon Musk fig­ures it all out since you think the world is com­ing to an end.

    Make bet­ter choic­es; your friends, if you have any will thank you for it.

  • As the World Turns says:

    Do you mean just like how Lib­er­al Insti­tu­tions of High­er Learn­ing shut down Con­ser­v­a­tive speak­ers? A recent event at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Pitts­burg comes to mind.

  • As the World Turns says:

    We did not starve before the Biden Admin­is­tra­tion opened the bor­ders to make sure there were enough peo­ple to keep Democ­rats in charge for the rest of eter­ni­ty. We have had legal migrants here for­ev­er doing the labor that some of you can­dy ass­es won’t do because it is hard work and you get dirty. I know this because a friend of mine owned a farm. I picked peach­es, okra, squash, spring onions, and toma­toes. I also processed and packed those prod­ucts. I worked like a dog all sum­mer and col­lege break so I could pay my tuition. Legal migrants are always wel­come. All oth­ers can go home.

  • Mr Maverick says:

    A C lev­el celebri­ty…
    .…at a B lev­el col­lege…
    …deliv­er­ing a D lev­el speech.

  • dk says:

    Most come­di­ans are pret­ty smart. This one is not.

  • Cwize says:

    Bril­liant take on Oswald’s speech.
    I hope you make up with who­ev­er peed in your Chee­rios.

  • Oscar says:

    I used to feel sor­ry for Pat­ton, after his wife passed.
    Now I real­ize he’s anoth­er virtue sig­nal­ing woke celebri­ty out of touch with real­i­ty.

  • Flabbergasted123 says:

    So Repub­li­can of you to assume I don’t have assets,friends, or went to school on my own dime.

    I’d love to see your “research”. Throw­ing your own under the bus too? You are all over the place. Elon can go die in a fire for all I care.

    Maybe ask any res­i­dent of the mar­shall island about cli­mate change? How about the head of the UN? Oh wait, I for­got you guys don’t read actu­al news

    Did you receive a PPP loan that you embez­zled? Con­gress sure took advan­tage.

    Anoth­er valid ques­tion, does your daugh­ter speak to you or did she aban­don you like a used tam­pon for your quacky views?

    Also please address my “dia­tribe” word for word. I’d hon­est­ly love that. From my expe­ri­ence all you repub­li­tards just par­rot fox news snip­pets and wor­ship ben shapiro or rush lim­baugh may be rest in hell.

  • Flabbergasted123 says:

    So Repub­li­can of you to assume I don’t have assets,friends, or went to school on my own dime.

    I’d love to see your “research”. Throw­ing your own under the bus too? You are all over the place. Elon can go die in a fire for all I care.

    Maybe ask any res­i­dent of the mar­shall island about cli­mate change? How about the head of the UN? Oh wait, I for­got you guys don’t read actu­al news

    Did you receive a PPP loan that you embez­zled? Con­gress sure took advan­tage.

    Anoth­er valid ques­tion, does your daugh­ter speak to you or did she aban­don you like a used tam­pon for your quacky views?

    Also please address my “dia­tribe” word for word. I’d hon­est­ly love that. From my expe­ri­ence all you repub­li­tards just par­rot fox news snip­pets and wor­ship ben shapiro or rush lim­baugh may be rest in hell.

  • Flabbergasted123 says:

    How’s Flori­da doing with their legal migrant labor? Oranges rot­ting on the branch?

  • Anthony a vote says:

    The rea­son our col­lege stu­dents don’t want to work is because they’re over-edu­cat­ed they do not know what it’s like to earn a pos­ses­sion in the soci­ety so there­fore they want to sit around with their hand out after Mom and Dad­dy pay for their edu­ca­tion their car their hous­ing and their food and expect to be top of the food chain in the work indus­try when they have not earned a posi­tion in the labor indus­try now post

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