Gotta Watch: Best commencement speeches
Conan O'Brien delivers advice to Dartmouth graduates in 2011.
May 15th, 2012
12:02 PM ET

Gotta Watch: Best commencement speeches

It’s graduation time, which means high-profile celebrities and politicians are delivering commencement speeches at some of the country’s most prestigious colleges and universities. First lady Michelle Obama cheered the Hokies at Virginia Tech’s 2012 graduation, while President Obama encouraged the 2012 graduating class of all-female Barnard College in New York to shape their destiny.

Graduation time reminds us at CNN.com of some of the funnier commencement speeches that we’ve seen over the years. Here are some of our favorites.

Conan leaves speech writing to late night

TBS late-night host Conan O’Brien’s Dartmouth speech from last year has been called “The Greatest Commencement Speech Ever”. Watch and see if you agree.

Cooper sheds his serious persona

Listen for Anderson Cooper’s rare risqué advice to Tulane graduates back in 2010.

Harvard could learn from Will Ferrell

Watch ‘SNL’ alum Will Ferrell get emotional at 1:00 in his commencement address to Harvard graduates in 2003.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Gotta Watch • Michelle Obama
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Alan K

    Yes Triumph... You are in fact a hose-head. Now run along. Someone is waiting for you in a bathroom stall.

    May 15, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  2. PEDO BEAR

    The best commencement speech ever made is the one never heard.

    May 15, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  3. PEDO BEAR

    @ Triumph
    Looks like middle school let the kids out early again today.

    May 15, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  4. frank d.

    where the heck is steve job's speech on this list.

    May 15, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason Berry

      Where did Steve Jobs speak this year? Did he come back as a zombie, or was it a hologram like Tupac?

      May 15, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • MrBo

      Stuck in the pile of unfunny commencement speeches.

      May 16, 2012 at 12:36 am | Report abuse |
  5. Tima Kooko

    The most famous Commencement Speech that Winston Churchill delivered at, Cambridge University. It consisted of only 9 words: “Never give up. Never give up. Never give up.”

    May 15, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Words of Wisdom:
      "Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense."

      No leader in history, perhaps, matched Churchill's capacity for blurring the lines between speech and battle cry. This is one of his best. It's an urban legend that the "Never give in" exhortation comprised the totality of his address; Churchill went on for several more paragraphs. But there's no question that this, far and away, was what Harrow's students remembered.

      May 15, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • kingTak

      That is 3 words times 3. Very Masonic. :)

      May 15, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • tez07

      I can do it in 2: Serenity Now

      May 15, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  6. matthew

    Graduation-
    A buncha people standing around in the same robes, getting similiar degrees, from the same professors/teachers, in the same auditorium, all marching in single file, all while a person stands at a podium and tells them individuality is the key to success

    May 15, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Alex Vincent

    Wear sunscreen.

    May 15, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Joe

    Never pursue any investment that will not give equal or greater return....oops should have told you that before paying 4 years of tuition.

    May 15, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. tez07

    In the immortal words of a Monty Python film......."Try and be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try and live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations."

    May 15, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Seth Bullock

    I watched Conan's Dartmouth speech last year. It really is hysterical all the way through. The reactions of the school prez are fantastic by themselves.

    May 15, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. salaamthebody

    I'm not a celebrity or high profile person, but I think I had a good commencement speech: bit.ly/classorator. Would love to hear your thoughts!

    May 15, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. William

    This years New Mexico Tech commencement started with a poem written and read by one of the Professors-in Klingon! Truly one of the great Nerd/Geek schools in America!

    May 15, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Skippy

    Didja all miss that Triumph was on Conan's show? Pedo bear, you're one to talk!

    May 15, 2012 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Pedro

    I am a survivor of sxeual abuse at the young innocent age of 5 until I was 17. I am 48. I speak publicly at colleges, inmates, events, all that I can to educate and bring awareness about this still silent epidemic! My voice is open to speak if needed. Looking forward to working with the Darkness to Light to educate further. My story was featured in Western Massachusettes Women's Magazine. I will be on Jon Leiberman show April 28th. Jon was reporter/producer of America's Most Wanted with John Walsh. I am working on passing Erin's Law in Massachusetts to mandate a curriculum for pre-k to 5th graders be educate on sxeual abuse in school. We need to educate the children the correct way not have the perpatrators educate their way which is teaching Keep silent, keep it a secret, don't tell Thank you

    July 11, 2012 at 6:26 am | Report abuse |
  15. sarhan

    You really make it apeapr so easy along with your presentation but I in finding this matter to be really something which I think I would never understand. It kind of feels too complex and extremely extensive for me. I am looking ahead on your subsequent post, I'll try to get the hang of it!Vlad recently posted..

    July 14, 2012 at 2:56 am | Report abuse |