Intermission: Conan O'Brien's Dartmouth Commencement Speech

Posted by Liz Dwyer

We have another speech to add to our list of the most awesome college commencement speeches of all time: Conan O'Brien's address at Dartmouth's 2011 graduation on Sunday. As expected, Coco brought the laughs, especially when he reflected on his ability to procrastinate.

"When I got the call two months ago to be your speaker, I decided to prepare with the same intensity many of you have devoted to an important term paper. So late last night, I began. I drank two cans of Red Bull, snorted some Adderall, played a few hours of ‘Call of Duty,’ and then opened my browser."

After joking that the only places hiring right now are "Panera Bread and Mexican drug cartels" he told parents to be patient with their graduate's job search because it's hard to find work—and then he got in a dig at Jay Leno.

"And one of the reasons it's so tough finding work is that aging baby boomers refuse to leave their jobs. Trust me on this. Even when they promise you for five years that they are going to leave—and say it on television—I mean you can go on YouTube right now and watch the guy do it, there is no guarantee they won't come back."

But he also shared some of what he's learned from The Tonight Show debacle, telling the graduates that his "profound and very public disappointment" gave him the freedom to realize that "No specific job or career goal defines me, and it should not define you." Once you realize that disappointments are going to come, "you can gain clarity, and with clarity comes conviction and true originality." The full text of the speech is here.