Jon Stewart's (Class of '84) Commencement Address
May 18, 2004 2:13 PM   Subscribe

"But it has always been a dream of mine to receive a doctorate and to know that today, without putting in any effort, I will. It’s incredibly gratifying. Thank you. That’s very nice of you, I appreciate it.

I’m sure my fellow doctoral graduates—who have spent so long toiling in academia, sinking into debt, sacrificing God knows how many years of what, in truth, is a piece of parchment that in truth has been so devalued by our instant gratification culture as to have been rendered meaningless—will join in congratulating me. Thank you."
posted by ColdChef at 2:14 PM on May 18, 2004

Thanks for the chuckle, coldchef.
posted by jbou at 2:26 PM on May 18, 2004

That's actually a great commencement speech. All that practice he's had in public speaking is really paying off. Thanks for the link, Chef.
posted by chicobangs at 2:32 PM on May 18, 2004

posted by ShawnString at 2:37 PM on May 18, 2004

Funny stuff. That man deserves a Gmail account.
posted by gwint at 2:39 PM on May 18, 2004

And mixed in with the humor are a few genuine nuggets of wisdom.

"So how do you know what is the right path to choose to get the result that you desire? And the honest answer is this. You won’t. And accepting that greatly eases the anxiety of your life experience."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:50 PM on May 18, 2004

errr... class of '84?
posted by xmutex at 2:50 PM on May 18, 2004

Stewart's class. Not the class he's addressing.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:56 PM on May 18, 2004

That was great. Much better than what I got at my graduation.

As in Jon Stewart graduated from W&M in '84, xmutex.
posted by Ufez Jones at 2:57 PM on May 18, 2004

I think at my graduation (VCU, 2000) we got Surgeon General David Satcher talking about the benefits of self-administered anal examinations to fight colon cancer.

Stewart trumped that and then some.
posted by xmutex at 3:00 PM on May 18, 2004

Thanks ColdChef, I really enjoyed that. My favorite address ever is the Conan O'Brien Harvard address that used to be available in this Will Ferrell commencement speech thread but is now available (minus some punctuation) here.
posted by onlyconnect at 3:02 PM on May 18, 2004

It's good, but I think Conan O'Brien's to the Harvard Class of 2000 is better.

So what can you expect out there in the real world? Let me tell you. As you leave these gates and re-enter society, one thing is certain: Everyone out there is going to hate you. Never tell anyone in a roadside diner that you went to Harvard. In most situations the correct response to where did you to school is, "School? Why, I never had much in the way of book larnin' and such." Then, get in your BMW and get the hell out of there.

You see, you're in for a lifetime of "And you went to Harvard?" Accidentally give the wrong amount of change in a transaction and it's, "And you went to Harvard?" Ask the guy at the hardware store how these jumper cables work and hear, "And you went to Harvard?" Forget just once that your underwear goes inside your pants and it's "and you went to Harvard." Get your head stuck in your niece's dollhouse because you wanted to see what it was like to be a giant and it's "Uncle Conan, you went to Harvard!?"

Classic stuff.
posted by tittergrrl at 3:04 PM on May 18, 2004 [1 favorite]

Damn you onlyconnect. DAMN YOU TO HELLLLL!

(different link though.)
posted by tittergrrl at 3:05 PM on May 18, 2004 [1 favorite]

These are good, but I still think Woody Allen did it best:
"More than at any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly. I speak, by the way, not with any sense of futility, but with a panicky conviction of the absolute meaninglessness of existence that could easily be misinterpreted as pessimisim. It is not. It is merely a healthy concern for the predicament of modern man."
posted by Zonker at 3:17 PM on May 18, 2004

*voice from hell* Your link is far superior, tittergrrl. No unpunctuated contractions! But I do love that O'Brien speech, especially the mushy part at the end.
posted by onlyconnect at 3:19 PM on May 18, 2004

It's the very last paragraph that really makes this so wonderful. I nearly launched a tater-tot out my nose. Well done, ColdChef.
posted by moonbird at 3:31 PM on May 18, 2004

it's a good speech. kind of sucks that william and mary got him instead of us (hampshire college) but what can you do.
and anyway, terror is a noun.
posted by magikeye at 4:15 PM on May 18, 2004

It took me a minute or two to realize that Stewart is the class of 84 and he was addressing this year's graduating class.

Other than that, the guy's brilliant. Genuinely funny and entirely deserving of a gifted doctorate. I hope he starts going by Jon Stewart. PhD or Doctor Jon Stewart.

And ditto on the final couple of paragraphs.
posted by fenriq at 4:27 PM on May 18, 2004

It almost makes me wish I had gone to William and Mary: in-state tuition, less than an hour from the beach, and Jon Stewart as an alumnus and commencement speaker.
posted by armage at 5:02 PM on May 18, 2004

"Terror" isn't a noun? What?
posted by kenko at 5:53 PM on May 18, 2004

I think with the "terror isn't even a noun" thing he was going for the fact that terror is an abstract noun, whereas wars are generally against physical entities. It's somewhat difficult to fight a war against a state of emotion. Think "War On Depression." Anyway, it's not much worse than a war on poverty, or other similar expressions.

Regardless, wonderful throughout, and the end was life-alteringly beautiful.
posted by Wingy at 6:29 PM on May 18, 2004

In the horrible commencement speaker category, I declare myself at the very minimum third or fourth place.

I got my LLM (Doctor of Laws and Letters) degree at Boston University the year that John Silber twisted enough arms to get both George Bush (Sr., when he was president at the time) and Francois Mitterand, at the time the president of France.

So, I claim first and second places. I can't remember anything George said and only recall amusing myself by counting the secret service snipers on the stadium walls, and Mitterand gave his speech in French, which was then translated into English, making a long boring speech exactly twice as long and boring.
posted by yhbc at 7:16 PM on May 18, 2004

I don't recall if we had a commencement address. But then, I wasn't entirely sober.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:36 PM on May 18, 2004

I love Jon Stewart. I do. This was great, thanks ColdChef. :)
posted by dejah420 at 7:36 PM on May 18, 2004

the bitter irony of it all being of course that a nice chunk of the most cutting political commentary of the George W Bush presidency comes from a (living) comedian who did admit he didn't even read the papers much until a few years ago AND from a (dead) comedian who left his corporeal existence more than 10 years ago

liberal media indeed

I mean, the Emily Miller stunt on Tim Russert's is straight out of Belushi's SNL. only it really happened. when reality beats Monty Phyton, be very afraid.

good link coldchef, thanks
posted by matteo at 7:46 PM on May 18, 2004

yhbc, Nope, this year's at Portland State University is going to take first. You got nothin' on me.

We have Congressman John Lewis (D-Georgia) speaking at our commencement. He's a noted civil rights supporter and was a student activist in the sixties according to the gushing brochure we got from the commencement department.

I'm wondering WTF this has to do with anything. PSU is an urban, 99% white university in an urban, 99.9999999999% white town. The only civil rights problems here are when the cops happen to shoot a black crack dealer instead of a white crack dealer, and the whole town takes the week off to protest.

At least you can tell stories about counting secret service agents. All I'm going to have to talk about is how good my three hour nap was.
posted by SpecialK at 9:16 PM on May 18, 2004

"We declared war on terror—it’s not even a noun, so, good luck. After we defeat it, I’m sure we’ll take on that bastard ennui."

Sure terror is a noun, but I think I've got a new .sig.

As an aside, does any but me remember the very first Jon Stewart show that ran on MTV more than ten years ago? It was terrible. The core of the show was Stewart fawning over Cindy Crawford in a distinctly unfunny fashion. The only guests appeared on other MTV shows. Stewart's ascendence from serious lameness to the only show that makes me pine for cable is at least as inspiring as the finest imaginable commencement speech.
posted by stet at 11:03 PM on May 18, 2004

You [multi-link: figure it out for yourself, i'm not linking to four
(five) different comments in this same thread] are pessimists -- relenquish your lead to those foul speakers of commencement at less-than-four-year-colleges.

highlight: "You are not Garfield's, you are Jon's" -- Dan G. Lunsford, President, Mars Hill College.
posted by headless at 11:13 PM on May 18, 2004

sorry, bad link.

supposed to point to AB-Tech, home of Dan's 2004 commencement address.
posted by headless at 11:15 PM on May 18, 2004

I don't remember the speaker at my commencement, but I do remember going to see my pals at Harvey Mudd graduate when the John Shalikashvili, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, was speaker. His niece was graduating, and my friends and I sat in the audience, looking for snipers through someone's telephoto lens. All I remember about that speech was that the man was wearing whites and had a ton of fruit salad on his uniform.

Good thing no one tried to repeat my friend's stunt from a few years prior when he launched a model rocket off his mortarboard. That would've been a hell of a commencement.
posted by RakDaddy at 11:17 AM on May 24, 2004

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