Comedic Commencement Addresses for the Class of 2013

My graduation speaker was Tony Kushner. At the time, there was grumbling that he was picked to appease the theatre crowd, for which my college is known. But, later, as I watched Lincoln and re-watched Munich, I was pretty happy with the choice.

But, also, his speech wasn’t too bad. He gave us a lot of advice, but his main message was don’t be passive:

Seek the truth and when you find it speak the truth. Interrogate mercilessly the truth you’ve found and “Act Act Act.” The world is hungry for you. The world has waited for you. The world has a place for you. Take your place. Change the World.

I have to admit, I’m pretty cynical, but that got my heart pumping, psyched to get my degree. I can’t even pretend I have any good advice for the graduating class of 2013;  luckily I don’t have to, because there have been a wealth of great speeches over the years.

Of all the commencement speeches I’ve watched on YouTube, I think comedians tell it the best. I think it’s because there really is truth in humor. Nobody can keep you that engaged while subtly giving you incredibly insightful nuggets of wisdom.

So congratulations to the class of 2013, enjoy a few of my favorite comedic commencements:

Stephen Colbert at Northwestern University:

“You have been told to follow your dreams, but what if it’s a stupid dream… Luckily dreams can change.”

Amy Poehler at Harvard:

“Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life. No one is here today because they did it on their own. Okay, maybe Josh, but he’s just a straight up weirdo.”

Jon Stewart at William & Mary:

“So I know that the decisions that I made after college worked out. But at the time I didn’t know that they would. See college is not necessarily predictive of your future success. And it’s the kind of thing where the path that I chose obviously wouldn’t work for you. For one, you’re not very funny.”

Ali G (Sacha Baron Cohen) at Harvard:

“Hear me now, u iz de most cleverest students in America – some of u iz probably brilliant at counting – ye know…1,2,3…4…. I could go on…easy. Others of u iz brilliant at English – have memorized de whole alphabet ‘a to x’ and even be able to spell words like ‘hippopotamus’. Incredible.”

Posted by Ben

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