What has to be one of the most memorable ‘non comedian commencement speeches’ delivered to students must be Winston Churchill’s ‘Never Give In‘ testament:

Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense.


Since then there have been a host of keynote addresses where a distinguished identity outlines some words of wisdom to graduating students. Like Churchill, it is not uncommon for prominent political leaders and scions of industry to be the nominated speaker. A list of some of the great commencement speeches of all time can be found here.

But what about those leaders who don’t fall within traditional roles – what about comedians – can they inspire as well as make us laugh?

To help you answer this question (of course they can) we give you our:

Best Comedian Commencement Speeches

John Waters – Rhode Island School of Design 2015

Perhaps better described as a humorist rather than a comic, but boy is he funny!

Our favourite section:

I’m rich! I don’t mean money-wise. I mean that I have figured out how to never be around assholes at any time in my personal and professional life. That’s rich. And not being around assholes should be the goal of every graduate here today.

Lisa Kudrow – Vassar 2010

Did you know she studied biology? Our favourite quote:

Six months after graduation I dumped that plan and decided to become an actress. Then I was cast on the show Friends and now I’m here, any questions?

Stephen Colbert – Know College 2006

Our favourite quote:

I have two last pieces of advice. First, being pre-approved for a credit card does not mean that you have to apply for it. And lastly, the best career advice I can give you is to get your own TV show. It pays well, the hours are good and you are famous.

Ellen DeGeneres – Tulane 2009

Our favourite quote:

and I finally decided that I was living with so much shame, and so much fear, that I just couldn’t live that way anymore, and I decided to come out and make it creative.

And last but not least – Wear Sunscreen!