Our spokesman was invited to give the commencement speech at a local middle school’s graduation ceremony. We recorded and posted a generic version so that any school may use it as a back-up in case something unfortunate happens to their commencement speaker. [PLAY EPISODE]
Below is the entire transcript of the speech, in case a back-up speaker would like to deliver it in his or her own words (in which case the speaker will need to omit the introduction and after note).
OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT: RALPH CRAMP COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS TO MIDDLE SCHOOLERS
This is Ralph Cramp, spokesman for the Scooby-Doo Justice Project Podcast.
The following is a graduation speech I prepared after being invited to give the keynote at the commencement ceremony for a local middle school.
Since I believe it to be especially inspiring to young people, I have decided to record the following generic version and hereby give my permission to any school to use this as a back-up speech at their graduation ceremony in case something happens the commencement speaker.
Note to school sound technician: We have begun and ended this message with applause as a cue for you and a prompt for the local audience.
In 3, 2, (beep) [APPLAUSE]
Ladies and gentlemen, family and friends, but most of all–esteemed graduates, it is truly an honor to be addressing you today.
In his highly influential work on the essentials of gourd cultivation, Ryman Boykler wrote these lines:
“It is not enough that the pumpkin farmer sees the soil conditions, the drainage angles, or vector burrows. He must be able to visualize the crop. He must be able to look out over his field and see row upon row of big, orange pumpkins.”
Today, I look over at you, graduating class, and see the harvest of your education.
I see row upon row of big, healthy pumpkins.
Mom and Dad, Step-Mom and Step Dad, biological Mom and biological Dad, grandparents, and state-designated guardians–you have every reason to be proud.
This is a bumper crop.
Now, I have to be honest. I was told not to use the pumpkin quote. “The kids won’t like it,” they said. “Nobody wants to be called a pumpkin.”
But I look at you, graduates, nodding and laughing in agreement with me. Who’s turning into a pumpkin now?
Let me introduce myself. My name is Ralph Cramp. I am an IN DE PEN DENT investigator. My work has led me to probe many interesting cases. But the one I’m going to talk to you about today–the case I was compelled to investigate–is the Scooby-Doo scandal of 1969.
For the past four years I’ve headed up a group known as the Scooby-Doo Justice Project. In order to clear the names of the men victimized by this TV show, we’ve had to study it from every angle. And as a result, I’ve become something of an expert.
That’s why I’ve titled this commencement address, “The Four Things I’ve Learned From Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?”
Today is your day to celebrate an academic accomplishment. Not everybody graduates from the eighth grade. But I hope it’s also a day where you’re open to a few words of advice from somebody who was sitting right where you are just a few years ago.
These are all things I wish somebody had told me. Because if they had, I wouldn’t have wasted years trying to learn them from a Saturday-morning cartoon.
The first one is: Surround yourself with the right people.
This means the people who are going to help you get where you want to go–so this necessarily means the people who are going to tell you what you want to hear.
For example, when Fred wanted to catch a deep sea diver by spraying
him with soapsuds or when he was going to shoot a giant arrow into a stone wall or when he wanted to dress Scooby-Doo up like French detective Hercule Periot–the rest of the gang went along without a question.
Nobody even mentioned the fact that these were all stupid ideas. Ones that were not only doomed to fail, but most likely get people hurt.
But if you want to achieve your dreams, these are the kind of people you need to surround yourself with. In the old days we called them “Yes-men.”
Second: Do what you love and never work a day in your life.
Did you catch that?
Normally, people to say, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Meaning your work will be so enjoyable, you won’t feel like you’re working.
But under that scenario, you’re still working.
Instead, do what you love, and NEVER work a day in your life. If you don’t want to feel like you’re working, then simply refuse to do any work.
Every member of the Scooby-Doo gang embodies this philosophy. They’re driving around, staying in interesting old hotels and catching supposed villains. They don’t get paid to do it, so that makes their activity a hobby.
Let somebody else pay for their gas, meals, lodging, and scuba gear. They’re doing what they love.
Of course, the key to this happy lifestyle is to find somebody else to support you. The gang is most likely backed by a shadowy government agency. For you, graduates, that’s going to be a tough kind of sponsor to find.
But don’t give up. Because you’ve got Mom and Dad.
My advice is don’t ask them outright to pay for your dream lifestyle. Just let them do it. If you can’t find a job you like, do they really have any choice?
I don’t like to hold myself up as an example, even though I have won multiple awards and been mentioned favorably in dozens of professional publications and tweets. But let me just say that this strategy has worked for me.
So thank you, Mom and Dad. And now just Mom and the disability people.
The third thing I’ve learned from Scooby-Doo is: Change the world.
You are an amazing group of young people. And when I see what your parents and teachers have seen for the past four years, I believe without a doubt that you are going to make our world a better place. [snort]
OK. I bet your Vice Principal five dollars that I could say that with a straight face. You win, sir.
But seriously, ask yourselves, graduates, in the past four years have you even made this school building a better place? Forget the bullying, the vandalism, and the ulcers you gave your teachers and staff. I’m just talking about the burden you placed on the taxpayers to keep this place open–hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
And did you even lift finger to maintain it? No, that was for the adults to do. The people who in your eyes are losers for not being able to get a job doing something cool. Like test-driving Ferraris or being a fashion buyer.
So when I say you’re going to change the world–you’re going to have an effect on it. The way a bull changes a china shop or a tornado changes a trailer park. Or, the way the Scooby-Doo Gang left a trail of innocent men who were wrongly framed as villains.
So when I say, “Change the world,” it’s like telling you to breathe. It’s something that’s going to happen automatically. In twenty years we’ll be thanking you for even longer safety warnings on harmless objects like buckets and beach balls. Even more nutritional information on food you shouldn’t be eating. And political ad campaigns made up entirely of emojis.
Should be very interesting to see how our overlords will keep us all fed and diapered.
Fourth lesson, and possibly the most important: Stay in school.
Today marks your graduation from middle school. It’s been an uphill battle with books, essays, tests, and teacher-in-service days. The temptation is to stop right now and cash in on your eighth grade degree. Especially when you consider that the list of great Americans who never finished high school includes Mark Twain, Thomas Edison, and Lil’ Wayne.
But I want to encourage you to aim for a higher educational goal. I believe that every single student here is capable of getting into high school. I truly do.
No I don’t believe that most of you will make it all the way through before dropping out. That’s OK. The important thing is to matriculate.
By the way, matriculate another word I was told not to use, because they said it would cause snickering. But I’m not snickering. So guess who’s wrong again.
While high school might seem unattainable to most of you. I encourage you to think of the worlds of opportunity it will open to you.
I want you to imagine yourself traveling the country in a custom van, with three of your friends, and a genetically modified Great Dane dog. One with human teeth.
Surprise, this is exactly what the Scooby-Doo Gang was doing. Using their two or three years of high school to solve mysteries and frame innocent men.
They couldn’t have done this as 8th grade graduates. They needed to further their education, by attending just enough high school. If Fred, Daphne, Velma, and Norville (who goes by Shaggy) were here, they’d tell you to stay in school at least until you’ve learned to drive.
Now some of you, a few perhaps, will pursue education even further, actually graduating from high school, and possibly even equalling my associate’s degree. I speak from experience when I say that doors will open and people will treat you with deference when they see that AA behind your name.
Though some will identify you with the sobriety group.
In closing, I want to revisit Ryman Boykler in his field of pumpkins. If you recall, he published several highly influential works on the subject of gourdiculture–the scientific name for pumpkin and squash growing.
Near the end of his career, when he’d said all that could be said by way of instruction, he published a book of stories that illustrate the deepest truths that he had learned from this type of farming.
The book was titled, “Seeds In The Slime: Lessons From The Pumpkin Patch.” And I want to end with an excerpt from story number four, “The Great Knife.”
“Ouch,” said the pumpkin. “You’re stabbing me in the head.”
“Not stabbing,” said John. “Carving. For I am a jack o’lantern carver.”
And their conversation goes on for a bit while Jack scoops out the inside of the future jack o’lantern’s head.
“There,” said John. “Now let me get the paring knife.”
“The one you just sharpened?” said the pumpkin. “For mercy sake . . .”
You know this whole passage is a little longer than we want to read right now. But I think you get the point.
You can be a proud pumpkin. But you can’t become a true jack o’lantern until you go under the knife, with the inside of your head scooped out and your face carved into place, cut by cut.
Now, you’re smart kids. And you know that Boykler means this as a metaphor. But still, I think Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa, and the legal guardians all want me to emphasize that this doesn’t mean real knives and real heads.
What we all want you to do is imagine, your head is a pumpkin and it’s being carved out by a good, sharp kitchen knife.
If you don’t remember anything else about this day, try to remember this. If you want to go out of here and live your life like the Scooby-Doo Gang:
Surround yourself with the right people.
Do what you love AND never work a day in your life.
Change the world.
And seriously consider staying in school.
After note: Unfortunately, a local school board member saw a draft of my proposed speech and disinvited me from the commencement. When asked which part caused her concern, she would only say that there were several places, but mostly my concluding story.
To her I say, if we don’t talk to our children about pumpkins, someone else will.
Listener, hopefully, your local institution will not be as narrow-minded and will be able to receive this important message in the spirit in which it is intended.