Following is the Clown College commencement address by Mr. Toots Nougat IV (as delivered).
Thank you, President Pickles, and hello to the parents, friends, and wacky faculty! It truly is a joy to be back at my alma mater.
A special hello to Dean Waffles Q. Syrup, who’s here with us today. We all know Dean Syrup has had a tough time since the unexpected death of his rubber chicken, so it’s great to see him and to see he’s no longer painting tears on his face.
To the Clown College Class of 2015: you made it! And while I’ve come to celebrate with you, I’m also here to deliver a serious message. You stand at a critical juncture. The world is moving fast, and we clowns have a choice: either adapt our clownish ways, or risk getting left behind.
I’d like to tell you a story. It starts after I’d just graduated Clown College and landed a job as a trombone inspector for that famed clown symphony, the Froufrou Frillharmonic.
Now inspecting trombones was easy-enough work, but after a few weeks I began to ask myself some tough questions. Questions like, “What is the goal of inspecting trombones?” and, “Are these even trombones? I think they’re telescopes.” It turned out they were telescopes, and the orchestra was forced to shut down and become an astronomy club.
Why am I telling you this? Because it was my first indication that sometimes we clowns are loath to see the world as it really is.
I’ll give you another example. After the Frillharmonic closed, I decided to open my own business—a bakery, specializing in whipped cream pies—and I mentioned it to some friends, fellow clowns. I thought they’d be happy for me, but instead they turned angry and started slapping me with live Spanish mackerel.
Why did they do it? Because they were frightened by change. And because there was a sale on mackerel.
What happened next was even more unsettling. As I was being fish-flogged I backed up and slipped on a plátano peel that someone, likely Señor Taco Butt, had absentmindedly left on the ground. I tried to stand but couldn’t put any pressure on my right floppy shoe and had to be rushed to the hospital on an emergency unicycle.
I arrived at the hospital and was initially relieved to find the attending physician was a clown. I told the doctor about my fall and he nodded thoughtfully, scribbling on a clipboard. I assumed he was taking notes, but then I saw he was just drawing a stegosaurus with a Jazzberry Jam crayon. He excused himself to consult with the orthopedist, who I couldn’t help but notice was a seal.
Now I know what you’re thinking: bad day, piscine pounding, unlicensed clown doctor. We’ve all been there, so what? But my point is that this kind of thing won’t fly in a 21st-century world where people will check the internet on their watches and say, “Oh, there’s another doctor in my neighborhood? Guess I don’t have to visit the clown with the seal anymore.”
Because you, the Class of 2015, aren’t just competing with each other. You’re competing internationally, with clown engineers from India and China, and with French mimes. And you’re also competing with people who aren’t clowns at all—people who understand logic, who can read, and who have symmetrical haircuts.
Now don’t get me wrong: there are things that we clowns do better than anyone else. Things like carpooling and juggling shorthair cats. But in a few years they’ll have computers that can juggle thousands of cats for months at a time. And then what?
So we must accept reality, and learn to adapt. Don’t forget: the future is bright for clowns, but only if clowns embrace it. That message is the one thing I hope you’ll remember when you look back on this day years from now. And also that I delivered this entire address from a pogo stick.
Congratulations, Clown College Class of . . . .
At this point in the address Mr. Nougat’s pogo stick skidded on a fudge sundae that Visiting Provost Giacomo di Pizza had earlier set on the floor of the dais and was saving for a post-degree-conferral snack. Mr. Nougat had a bad fall and was sped to the Clown College emergency room, where his ankle was successfully reset by a puffin.