In this video released for the first time, David Rakoff delivers a two-minute college commencement speech at 92Y in February 2008 for a talk titled “Don’t Go to College” with Patricia Marx and Frank McCourt. Moderator Roger Rosenblatt instructs them not to use the words challenge, humanity, Johnson or doctor. Rakoff rises to the challenge with his trademark cynicism and brilliance.
“You enter a world that does not care what you think. A world that would rather drink household bleach than discuss with you your senior thesis, Gender Modalities and Queernesses in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Did I say drink bleach? I meant drink bleach and set ourselves on fire.”
“…some of you are already on your way having lined up lucrative and rewarding jobs writing for The Simpsons. You enjoy unbridled and uncomplicated physical passion with a beautiful and loving partner. Fuck you.”
“…for the rest, don’t worry this time too shall pass. And until then, lower your expectations. Just keep repeating: Youth is the least interesting thing one can have to bring to the table.”