Taking a page out of his usual comedy book, Conan kept the Dartmouth crowd laughing while imparting on them a heavy dose of post-graduation reality.
It’s a spiel that you’d be apt to see on his nightly show. Conan O’Brien’s Sunday speech to Dartmouth College’s graduating class contained nearly 20 minutes of chuckle-worthy jokes, intertwined with three minutes of actual encouragement. And if you’ve ever suffered through a seemingly endless commencement, leave it to Conan to end the tedium. Any college grad understands the necessity of humor as they embark into an uncertain job world, and Conan, who was quick to point out that he went through a difficult job transition himself just a last year, delivered a message spiked with humility and hope.
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In beginning his address, he paid homage to former President George H.W. Bush, who was also receiving an honorary degree Sunday. “I must point out that behind me sits a highly admired president of the United States and decorated war hero, while I, a cable television talk show host, has been chosen to stand here and impart wisdom. I pray I never witness a more damning example of what is wrong with America today.”
But indeed Conan did offer the promised (and necessary) wisdom. When his message turned away from the wisecracks and onto a more serious note, he took a page from his own capstone speech when he signed off his short-lived Tonight Show in 2010: “Work hard, be kind, and amazing things will happen.” Never have those words been more appropriate than to new graduates.