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June 20, 2011 8:57 AM   Subscribe

Congratulations Graduates! Here are some comedic commencement speeches to send you off into the world:

Stephen Colbert's advice for the Northwestern graduating class of 2011: Don't follow your stupid dreams. Jokes start right away, serious bits start 18 minutes in.

Amy Poehler addresses the facts of the 9/11 memories of recent graduates.

Comedian Dwight Slade speaks to his own high school graduate.

More?

Among Conan's pearls of wisdom to Dartmouth: "Wearing colorful Converse high-tops beneath your graduation robe is a great way to tell your classmates that this is just the first of many horrible decisions you plan to make with the rest of your life."

And from the New York Times: Fill in the blanks on several other big name speakers less-than-original oratory.
posted by Potomac Avenue (19 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oops, I meant 'serious bits on the Colbert video start 12 minutes in'. 18 minutes is the end, which, while rather serious, is probably too short for a speech.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:03 AM on June 20, 2011


"Wear black at people" is a perfect phrase.
posted by The Whelk at 9:10 AM on June 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Back in 2000, O'Brien told graduates: "Fall down. Make a mess. Break something occasionally. Know that your mistakes are your own unique way of getting to where you need to be. And remember that the story is never over."

His speech this year reflects on that: "Well now I'm here to tell you that, though you should not fear failure, you should do your very best to avoid it. Nietzsche famously said 'Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.' But what he failed to stress is that it almost kills you. Disappointment stings and, for driven, successful people like yourselves it is disorienting. What Nietzsche should have said is 'Whatever doesn't kill you, makes you watch a lot of Cartoon Network and drink mid-price Chardonnay at 11 in the morning.'" (Spoiler: It does get better for him.)
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:22 AM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I really like this commencement speech by David Foster Wallace. Not quite as light-hearted as the ones in the OP, but well worth a read.
posted by pahalial at 9:29 AM on June 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I love irreverent grad speeches so much. All the pomp and ritual are the perfect setup for jokes. Too bad so few can rise to the occasion.
posted by msalt at 9:31 AM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Stephen Colbert's speech was great.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 9:48 AM on June 20, 2011


Stephen Colbert's speech WAS great! And because it isn't shown in the video up there, here is the video clip taken by one of our students (who was chosen to speak after Colbert, poor guy) of Colbert receiving his honorary doctorate where the Provost makes a bit of a mistake causing Colbert to throw down his tam to the stage and pretend to storm out. (23:30)
posted by jeanmari at 9:58 AM on June 20, 2011


Gah! Here is the link.
posted by jeanmari at 9:58 AM on June 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


In 1990, Bob Elliot gave a faux commencement address on The American Radio Company of the Air which was a collection of every graduation speech cliche you've ever heard, arranged so that they contradict each other. I wish I had a recording or transcription of that speech. It was a masterpiece.
posted by plinth at 10:03 AM on June 20, 2011


I would marry Amy Poehler tomorrow. Well, you know. If she wasn't already married and stuff.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 10:11 AM on June 20, 2011


I love Amy Poehler. Kindness, yeah.
posted by emhutchinson at 11:24 AM on June 20, 2011


Amy and Stephen both talked about life lessons they learned in Improv. Good stuff!

(My favourite grad speech is still JK Rowling at Harvard.)
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 11:46 AM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would marry Amy Poehler tomorrow. Well, you know. If she wasn't already married and stuff.

Maybe they're okay with group marriage. What could it hurt to ask?
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:06 PM on June 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow. That beats the heck of out of my class's speaker, who was some dean from another school who had to fill in at the last minute for Madeline Albright's cancellation.
posted by ignignokt at 12:16 PM on June 20, 2011


"And now...Some Dean from Another School!"
posted by ignignokt at 12:16 PM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jump to about 24 minutes into jeanmari's video for the hissy fit. :)

Also, that's some great advice about not being able to win life. I feel like you certainly can lose at life, but living as best you can is as close to winning as you can get.
posted by hankscorpio83 at 12:56 PM on June 20, 2011


Bill Cosby's commencement speech at Carnegie Mellon, 2007. NEEEEEEEEEERDS!
posted by destrius at 7:15 PM on June 20, 2011


destrius: "Bill Cosby's commencement speech at Carnegie Mellon, 2007 . NEEEEEEEEEERDS!"

Shush about that. Back in my day at CMU, they didn't "believe" in fancy schmancy commencement speakers. It sucked. I'm still jealous.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 10:35 PM on June 20, 2011


I would marry Amy Poehler tomorrow. Well, you know. If she wasn't already married and stuff.

Right. In order to marry you, she'd have to leave the guy with a $5000 suit. Come on!
posted by Wild_Eep at 6:58 AM on June 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


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