75.8 F

Davis, California

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Back-up commencement speakers

Help, I’m being replaced


By ANNABEL MARSHALL — almarshall@ucdavis.edu 


When I heard that comedian and UC Davis alum Hasan Minhaj had been formally invited to speak at the 2023 commencement, I just assumed he had already said yes. But, no (the opposite of yes). They were “just asking.” I didn’t realize that UC Davis inviting someone to speak at graduation was the equivalent of me tweeting at Nicki Minaj. I got so much second-hand embarrassment from UCD begging our only mildly famous alumni to repeat some fortune cookie sayings that I made a list of people we should have at commencement instead.


George, my English TA: George is many things. Soft-spoken, kind, tall-ish. A harsh grader for grammar but basically a nice dude. He’ll probably show up about 20 minutes late and read off his slides which he will not connect to any big screen but instead show by turning his laptop around. Your mom will have a crush on him.

Piers Morgan: I’ve always wanted to throw something at a British person, but usually they’re out of range.

Someone’s mom: I’m sure any mom in the audience is going to give a more heartwarming, down-to-earth and entertaining speech than anyone currently on the roster. I do not want to hear from an advisor in the Chemistry Department, respectfully. You didn’t even go to school here.

Ben Shapiro: I’m sure he’s available. God knows he’s not busy having sex with his wife.

Matt Bennett: Originally made famous by his iconic role on Victorious as Robert “Robbie” Shapiro (no relation to Ben, I think?), Bennett now moonlights as a DJ, playing sets as near as Sacramento. Look me in the eyes and tell me you wouldn’t prefer that to a member of the UC Davis staff that you never knew existed skirting around the fact that you’re graduating into a recession.

Me: Welcome, graduates of 2023. I have a lot to say. First of all, did y’all know you could go on the roof of the Memorial Union? I did not. I think if I had known this sooner I would have done a lot better in college, but also in life, long-term. This charming anecdote shows how, had we known more, we would have lived our lives differently and better. Now, however, it is too late to lead a better life. As you move forward in life, try to remember that there is nothing you can do that will allow you to achieve that supposedly perfect life you could have had if you had just known at the time what you know now. It’s too late, probably.

Steven Luck, Ph.D.: Commonly known as the professor of PSC 001 and head of his own psychology lab, Dr. Luck is actually speaking at commencement. However, instead of giving his best wishes to the seniors, I think he should tell us about all the crazy experiments he would do if he had no regard for basic ethics or the law. If we start collectively pretending Gary May is invisible, what will that do to his psyche? What combination of illegal drugs makes the human body perform the best in a game of Valorant? If I start tasing my housemates every time they don’t wash the dishes, how fast will it start working?

Paris Hilton: Do not allow anyone to write anything for her or give her any notes. I want to hear it straight from the heart. For 10 American minutes. I will hang onto every word.  

Literally anyone, but the screen behind them is playing Subway Surfers: That’s the only way you’re going to get a photo of everyone in the audience looking in the right direction. 

Taylor Swift: No? You’re saying that NYU is better than us? 


Written by: Annabel Marshall — almarshall@ucdavis.edu 

Disclaimer: (This article is humor and/or satire, and its content is purely fictional. The story and the names of “sources” are fictionalized.)