With school graduations numbering among those beloved institutions wisely but disappointingly cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic (baseball, Coachella, outside, hope and dreams), some schools are turning to high-profile celebrity guest commencement speakers for their annual dose of out-the-door uplift. With notable people such as President Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks, and others hopping on the virtual mic to deliver inspirational words of wisdom to lucky but homebound graduates the country over, it’s a consolation prize that nearly makes up for those post-graduation night keggers and making out, certainly. (Also, someone book Maria Bamford to do a real graduation address, please.)
That said, not all such drop-ins can be winners. Sometimes, your choice of an empty-headed right-wing U.S. senator results in an open mic-level debacle of hacky xenophobia and flop sweat. And other times, an Oscar-nominated actor is all too pleased to introduce your pre-K children to the concepts of genocide, effete serial adultery, and wiping the toilet seat if your aim is bad. Thursday’s Late Show began with Malkovich serving as the famous guest speaker at one Play ‘n’ Learn Preschool’s virtual graduation, something the thankfully fictional bastion of higher learning and low urinals really should have done some research on. (Saturday Night Live first understood the dubious magic of putting the infamously dour and unsettling Malkovich in a roomful of little kids.)
Thankfully, it wasn’t all disturbing history lessons about the Khmer Rouge plucked from the illustrious thespian’s IMDb page, as Malkovich offered up some potentially useful pearls to the conference-calling young grads. You really shouldn’t eat paste. Sharing is a good skill to learn. Boys, seriously, the toilet isn’t just a suggestion, it’s a goal. And while it might be a little on the tough love side to warn kids that their next steps in the road of life won’t be “all crayons and baby carrots,” at least Malkovich—now fully into the Werner Herzog doing bits on Parks And Recreation and Rick And Morty phase of his career—could impart a real Dangerous Liaisons zinger in closing. So go forth, future Kindergarteners—your future is beyond Mr. Malkovich’s control.