commencement speeches

Conan O’Brien Praises Harvard Grads for Being ‘Resilient in a Scary World’

Celebrity virtual commencement-speech season isn’t over just yet, and if you’ve already watched Maria Bamford’s speech for the graduates of 2020, now you can pretend to be a Harvard grad with this ten-minute speech Conan O’Brien delivered from his backyard for the students at his alma mater. “I know what some of you are wondering right now: How could Conan at his age possibly relate to me?” O’Brien says. “Well, to you I say: Do not think of me as someone who graduated Harvard 35 years ago. Think of me as a fellow classmate — a fellow classmate who looks like shit.”

While O’Brien’s speech is, as you might expect, full of jokes, near the end he gets serious about the younger generation, calling them “resilient in a scary world” and “remarkable examples” for his teenage children. “You’ve been challenged your entire lives, and you’ve demonstrated one of the most precious qualities one can have: resilience,” he says. “Now, cynics like to mock the supposedly spoiled or callow youth of the new millennia, but you have seen and survived so much, and you’ve responded with wit, creativity, righteous anger, activism, and a gritty determination to take the reality you’ve been handed and make it better.” O’Brien wraps up the speech on a slightly less serious note: “I cannot wait to see what you fine people will accomplish, and I know that one day, years from now, one of you will stand where I stand … here in my backyard. And I will have you arrested for trespassing. Thank you.”

Conan O’Brien Addresses 2020 Harvard Grads From His Backyard