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Best Comedic Commencement Speeches

Recently, we scoured the web for funny commencement speeches. There’s a lot of wisdom in comedy, and you’re going to need it in the real world. Celebrity graduation speakers aren’t always the brightest bulbs in the box. That said, they’ve been through the trials of the entertainment industry, so their advice can be extremely powerful. Below, we’ve shared four of our favorite comedian commencement speeches.  

Steven Colbert (2013, UVA)

Unsurprisingly, America’s favorite late-night host is a great public speaker. He gives a hilarious overview of UVA before sharing his wisdom about living life on your own terms. “There is no secret society out there that will tap you on the shoulder and show you the way,” he says. He blames his own Baby Boomer generation for being self-absorbed and leaving a big mess for this generation to clean up. He goes on to say, in that challenge, we’ve been given a gift of independence. Even though it might seem scary with the uncertainty in our world, we have the freedom to forge a path for ourselves. Watch Steven Colbert’s Commencement Speech Above.

Jim Carrey (2014, Maharishi University)

This uplifting speech from the inimitable Jim Carrey is packed with gems about spirituality, connecting with others, and living a life of intention. He gave the speech to the Maharishi’s transcendental meditation school in Iowa. Carrey jumps right into life’s metaphysical mysteries. He talks about our natural fight-or-flight response, how meditation can help us reconnect with life outside our physical bodies. Furthermore, that we should “beware the unloved”. As far as comedian commencement speeches go, this is truly powerful stuff.  Watch Jim Carrey’s Commencement Speech Above.

Amy Poehler (2011, Harvard)

She’s one of the funniest comedians of all time, but Amy Poehler doesn’t just rely on easy laughs. Instead, she advises graduates to find a group of people that they admire. Then says to collaborate, listen, and challenge each other to do great things. “Listen, say yes, live in the moment, make sure you play with people who have your back,” she says. They are about the rules of comedic improvisation, but they apply to life in general. Not to mention, she tells a bizarre story about Donald Trump and chicken suits. Watch Amy Poehler’s Commencement Speech Above.

Mindy Kaling (2014, Harvard Law)

Writer and actress extraordinaire Mindy Kaling may seem like a strange choice for a Harvard Law commencement. She spends the first few minutes of her speech making that obvious. After the introductory icebreakers, however, she delivers some serious insight about her parents’ immigration to America. She speaks of the privilege and promise of this country, and how the American justice system keeps that dream alive. She also makes it clear that celebrities dole out too much advice. Stating Harvard Law grads should be the ones giving advice, not her. Watch Mindy Kaling’s Commencement Speech Above.

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