Eric Stough, May 9, 2014

Before I get started I want to thank Chancellor DiStefano for that

introduction and for the 40 years of service to the University of

Colorado. I want to shout out to all the proud parents as well, Big

weekend coming up for Moms! Without you, well, we wouldn’t be

here in the freezing cold. Good morning to the Grandparents. And

to the Dignified faculty, I thank-you for your gracious hospitality. I’m

sure if Matt or Trey were speaking today you would have put them

up at the new St. Julien but for me, the Marriott was just fine. And

for those who couldn’t make it, you chose wisely, it’s cold out here

and you’re in our thoughts.

But most of all thank-you to the Senior Class Council and Good

Morning Class of 2014!

As Mr. Hankey the Christmas poo would say “Howdy Ho! and he’d

go on about how you all look swell and smell “an awful lot like

flowers”. I promised the faculty that being from South Park I would

keep my speech short, clean and that I’d only talk about poo three

times – When referring to Mr. Hankey, The CSU football team and

the horrid smell they get from Greeley with those Western Winds.

I was completely surprised and honored to be asked by the

University to do this and I’m a bit nervous, in fact if there was only

something that could relax me – hmm… what’s legal here in

Colorado that could relax me?

It’s scary giving a commencement speech to a distinguished

University that’s over 130 years old. CU’s first commencement

speech was back in 1882 and it was given to only six graduates.

The others must have froze to death or were chopped up and eaten

by a famous prospector named Al… But it’s really great to be back

in Boulder on such an occasion as this. Boulder Colorado! – The

health food Mecca of the world! Since I’ve been gone Boulder has

been labeled Forbes 2008 Smartest City in America. Probably by

been labeled Forbes 2008 Smartest City in America. Probably by

someone from Boulder who was either an author or a triathlete but

most likely both. Other towns in the area have to name themselves

“Superior” just to compete.

The University of Colorado has been affiliated with a total of Eleven

Noble laureates, Nine Mac Arthur fellows and 18 astronauts and

you guys get me- a CU fine arts film graduate with the expertise of

animating alien abductions, anal probes and explosive farts on

cable T.V…wow what an honor.

But why me? Last year had Mary Poppins as their speaker – it was

all “here’s a spoonful of sugar” and the Class of 2013 was on their

way with the Sound of Music. Maybe I’m that Future Self and Me

messenger from South Park to tell you that 20 years goes by

quickly. Honestly, I rarely give people advice because it’s way too

much responsibility and I’ve only been given ten minutes to reach

all of you. Matt and Trey are obviously too scared to be here and

Trey hasn’t even graduated yet! So I thought about it some more

and realized in the past year CU has witnessed a 1,000 year rainfall

that turned into a 50-year flood, the state legalized Marijuana, a

sociology Professor reinstated by the appeal of her students and

her strong leadership, and a local coffee shop on the Hill has been

replaced by Starbucks. So you bring in the South Park producer,

because he’s dealt with all sorts of crazy things like nazi zombie

invasions, Global Warming, Terrorism, Chinese take overs, and Big

time celebrities who refuse to come out of a young boy’s closet.

And with all the 20 years experience I’ve had I have to honestly say

there’s nothing I can do about Starbucks. It’s that darn Seattle,

Washington. And now THEY’RE the number one smartest city in

America. They too have legalized marijuana and to be truthful I

heard the Seattle Seahawk’s weed is a little stronger than the

Bronco Mile High weed…

But I digress.

Sometimes you’re ahead and many times you’re behind. Be

present and feel those high and lows.You have to keep them

balanced.

So for those of you who don’t know, I grew up in “The quiet

mountain town” of Evergreen, Colorado. During my childhood I was

raised well rounded, sheltered and I did what I was told. After all my

very first concert at Red Rocks was John Denver. It was 20 years

ago that I was sitting where you are all sitting today except I didn’t

have a cell phone and there was no Facebook or Tinder to past the

time. I’m sure Tinder is off the hook right now. Everyone

concentrated together on the field. You have the whole senior class

to swipe through.

In those 20 years I have worked on all 246 episodes of South Park

as Animation Director and Producer. Right over there in a building

now torn down, South Park was created by Trey Parker and Matt

Stone or as you may know them here in Colorado as “Matt Parker

and Trey Stone”.

I was a film major here at CU, lived in Will Vill, was an RA for three

years and ultimately I wanted to work for Disney. Most of you will

have nightmares about a final you haven’t studied for. I have

nightmares that its a Blizzard and the Buff Bus never comes. In

College I was overtaken by the passion of animation. Animation is

the study of motion. Bringing inanimate objects to life one frame at

a time fascinated me. Trey asked me to help with the first Spirit of

Christmas film but the “Disney” dream I had didn’t involve Frosty

the Snowman going around killing kids. But I got a chance to work

on the second one, Jesus vs. Santa and when the show got picked

up, I was the first one hired on and it was the beginning of a great

career. Animators live in a world of slow motion. They break down

time to twenty- four frames a second for film. It’s a tedious process

time to twenty- four frames a second for film. It’s a tedious process

and for South Park each character had to be cut out of construction

paper and then filmed one frame at a time. Imagine breaking down

your life to twenty-four frames a second and now imagine that

every one of those frames is equally important. That’s what we do

every week to make a beautiful show. I guess if you’re disgusted by

South Park you say “ugh! You do all that to make that crappy

show”. Yes we do, every week we’re in Production..

Throughout the 17 seasons of South Park I have remained

focused, driven and yes, grounded. By season three the character

Butters was introduced roughly based on my upbringing and

personality with Matt doing the voice. The nickname “Butters”

stems from little brother, little buddy and innocent wholesome

person.

And if you’ve seen our show – you know that everybody loves

Butters!

But that’s enough about me, today is about the graduates.

Hopefully this experience at CU has opened your mind, brought

awareness to your heart, and maybe has questioned some

preconceived ideas from your youth. Because of South Park, I

know some of mine have been stripped. You have taken these

years to build a foundation to prepare you for the future. It

represents your character, it’s your ethics, values and beliefs. In

Animation you need to have a great foundation. A locked off table,

a registration system, a secure tripod, anything so your work

doesn’t get bumped or your camera doesn’t get jiggled. Otherwise

your animation is ruined and you have to start all over. When things

don’t turn out the way you want them to you fall back to your

established foundation. For some of you your foundation is

established foundation. For some of you your foundation is

malleable like silly putty. As it solidifies you can start building on it

with your own experiences. And one day, I say around 30, you can

win that Emmy and naturally find someone who too has a strong

foundation with similar traits as yours. But take your time.

One of my favorite Butters moments in South Park is when he gets

dumped by a girl named Lexus and experiences what he calls a

“Beautiful sadness”. How could sadness be beautiful? It’s beautiful

that in order to feel something really sad he had to experience

something as equally happy. You can learn from Butters that the

key to a great life isn’t just happiness. It would be a boring life if it

were. A great life is fulfilled. It’s a soaked sponge that has been

present for all sorts of emotions. From fear to laughter, sadness to

happiness and one must be open and present to have all these.

Don’t look to Friday to hope they pass instead take them on, learn

from them in the moment and balance them over your foundation.

Not to say you won’t get blindsided and knocked off balance by

something like love or passion. But when that thrill wears off and

your daily routine kicks back in where will you find your balance?

So I’ve related animation as a way to look at life. Breaking it down,

being present of every frame.

But animation is done in a controlled

environment. It has scripts and storyboards and voice tracks you

have to follow. And perhaps up to this point your life has been a

little controlled. Your youthful years have been supervised by your

parents and you we’re told to go from Kindergarten to College and

unless you’re Eric Cartman and you’ve frozen yourself, then

College Graduation is where you are now, here at Folsom Field,

Congratulations you have arrived. Take a moment to soak it in.

In less than two hours you’ll walk through those gates with your

hard earned diploma and it’s time to think about work, getting a job,

hard earned diploma and it’s time to think about work, getting a job,

climbing the corporate ladder, looking forward to raises, maybe

buying a house with a partner and having a baby or two, and for

Earth’s sake keep it to two.

I warn you though life is always in motion, life beyond those gates

can be as chaotic as a pinball machine. I’m talking about a physical

real pinball machine like the ones in the UMC, not the app on your

phone. And Pinball is really tricky the first time you play it. Your ball

is always rolling, gravity trying pull it down. You play trying to get it

to go in certain nooks and crannies to score without tilting the

machine. You have to be present everywhere your ball goes or

you’ll lose it. When your pinball game is done and you look back at

your life are you going to look up and say “whoa what just

happened”? or will you be present, taking everything in and say

“wow look at the places I went and I was aware for every moment

of it”.

Philosopher Alan Watts says it best- “You can’t live at all- unless

you can live fully now”.

Well I guess we all learned a little something today, It doesn’t

matter if you’re rich or poor, live in Boulder or Seattle, Graduation is

about one thing – Presents. Wait I read that wrong – Graduation is

about BEING present. Grads of 2014 stay in balance and keep your

foundation strong. Your diploma is an inanimate object. So be the

animator and bring it to life. Remember we can learn a lot from

Butters, respect one another’s differences, experience leads to

knowledge. Be responsible. Oh yeah and being crass is just rude

and it poisons the soul. Swearing can be fun but doing it all the time

can cause a lot of problems. At South Park we’ve learned that

curse words should be for rare and extreme circumstances

besides- Wait, did I go over the ten minutes?

Oh Shit.

Good luck 2014 grads and Thank-you so much! Have a super fun

time- be good!