If you're anything like my family, you've heard just about every graduation cliche in the book — the Webster's Dictionary quotes, the inevitable "commencement is a beginning, not an end" lines. Fortunately, some people know how to deliver a truly great graduation speech, one that's witty, memorable and inspiring - or at least really amusing. (Hey, no one invites Saturday Night Live's Andy Samberg to speak at Class Day in order to hear a tribute to world peace.)
So, the next time you're stuck listening to some interminable speech - or you need a pithy "As Jane Lynch once said..." quote to jot in a graduation card - think of these excerpts from the best graduation, baccalaureate and class day speeches of 2012, delivered by this roster of notable speakers. Page through or click the quick links below.
- Neil Gaiman at the University of the Arts: On mutated boa constrictors, exploding cats and practical, inspirational advice for artists, musicians and writers.
- Peter Dinklage at Bennington: On the importance of seizing the dream and not waiting for the world to say it's time.
- Jane Lynch at Smith: On the power of "Yes, and..."
- Oprah Winfrey at Spelman: On being in the driver's seat of life.
- Adam Savage at Sarah Lawrence: On the career-wisdom of being kind.
As for Samberg's speech, it wasn't practical, wise or inspirational - his tips for success included "cut a hole in a box," for heaven's sakes - but it was funny. (You'll find the video on YouTube. But then come on back and read about the good speeches!)