The Ultimate Celebrity Commencement Speech Mashup, Class of 2010


One commencement speaker really can’t provide all the wisdom today’s graduates need in this crazy world. That’s why our textual analysts have combined favorite lines from the 2010 speeches of sixteen luminaries into the mother of all graduation speeches!

Below, a speech featuring the words of Meryl Streep, Rachel Maddow, Bill Clinton, Wyclef Jean, and more. Can you match the advice to the speaker? More importantly, can you live by it? (Note: our analysts added a couple of colons.)

Hey y’all! OOOOHHHWEEE! Don’t y’all look pretty in your robes? [1]

But you have to know it doesn’t end there. You have to ask yourself, what will you do with the degree? How will you use it to achieve your goals? And the answer to that depends on how far you can see. You must have a vision for your future. You must pair that vision with a plan. [2] You will go down many paths that go nowhere. Especially you English majors. [3] In fact, you remind me of something President Wilson once said: [4] If you are touched by the success fairy you are duty-bound to spread what you know around like fertilizer. [5] By the way, it’s always a good move to listen to that inner voice – if it doesn’t lead to a crime. [6]

I’m not a subscriber to the helicopter parent refrain of ‘honey, you can do whatever you want to do.’ I really don’t think you can. [7] On campuses this spring across the country, commencement speakers are saying such things as: “The future is yours.” “Take control of your destiny.” “Set your goals high.” And so on and so forth. These platitudes are not worth much, so I don’t use them. You don’t really want to hear them. Of course, the future is yours. Who else would want it? Take it. [8]

60 million of us are obese, we have a 17% poverty, we’ve fallen to 9th now in global rankings of prosperity. [9]

There are four million gallons of crude oil in the Gulf of Mexico. Oil is pouring into the Gulf of Mexico as I stand here. There is nothing to stop it, nothing at all. [10]

Someone at Yum Brands this year achieved their personal triumph by getting KFC to remove the bun from a cheese and bacon sandwich and replace that bun with pieces of fried chicken. [11]

And if you allow me now a few more suggestions from a once chubby and deeply insecure cocktail waitress: [12] Our national project may have to be that we become smaller; that we understand our humanity not from the excess of wealth, but from the excess of human possibility. This is our task. [13] If you have a vision for yourself, it won’t matter that others may be blind to what you can see. That vision will help you see past many factors that can discourage you. That vision will help you see past the setbacks — and setbacks will happen. [14]

Let’s face it, the most important decision you will make in your life will be over who to marry. [15] I’m grateful because if I hadn’t come here I would have never met Hillary…I’m very proud of the work she’s doing and I’m grateful to Yale because I would have missed it if I hadn’t come here. And we’ve had a remarkable life together. [16]

Anyway, I’m not much for giving advice. [17] So I wrote to Glenn Beck and asked him what to say: [18] Read the scriptures every day because they…they…[chokes, faint sobs]..are alive. [19] I know, I just threw up in my mouth a little bit, too. [20]

Congratulations, again. Thank you for inviting me and for the privilege of addressing you, to whom history, and the dreams of mankind, will soon be entrusted. [21]

1. Marcia Gay Harden, UT Austin
2. Wyclef Jean, Western Connecticut State
3. Anderson Cooper, Tulane
4. Michelle Obama, George Washington University
5. Meryl Streep, Barnard
6. Lisa Kudrow, Vassar
7. Katie Couric, Case Western
8. John Grisham, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
9. Brian Williams, Notre Dame
10. Brian Williams
11. Rachel Maddow, Smith
12. Ann Curry, Wheaton College (Massachusetts)
13. Danny Glover, Utah State
14. Wyclef Jean
15. David Brooks, Occidental
16. Bill Clinton, Yale
17. Anderson Cooper
18. David Brooks
19. Glenn Beck, Liberty University
20. Anderson Cooper
21. John McCain, Wesleyan

John Grisham’s 2010 Commencement Address, “Find A Voice” [UNC News]
Meryl Streep Says Being A Celebrity Taught Her To Hide [Vancouver Observer]
Class Of 2010 Called To Help Solve Nation’s Crises [Notre Dame News]
David Brooks 2010 Commencement Speech [Occidental College]
Michelle Obama At George Washington University Grauation. Transcript. [Chicago Sun-Times]
Commencement Address 2010 [Smith College]
Katie Couric Encourages Class Of 2010 To Find Their Passion – Case Western Reserve University [ArticleAnt]
Actor Danny Glover Tells USU Graduates To Make Their Marks On The World [Utah State Today]
2010 Speaker – Anderson Cooper [Tulane University]

With reporting by Maura Canavan.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin