Conan O’Brien delivered the commencement speech to Harvard’s Class of 2020 — and also briefly the University of Phoenix — from his own backyard on Thursday’s “Conan,” the best possible venue under these circumstances, seeing as the alum couldn’t make it over to the Cambridge campus and neither could the graduates due to the pandemic.
And O’Brien was the first to admit that graduating from home is certainly not an ideal situation for all those smarties who have been working hard for years to earn their diplomas from his alma mater.
“Now, I know for all of you, this is not the graduation ceremony you were expecting,” the TBS late-night host said. “Right now your parents are realizing they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars just to watch you basically graduate from an online university. In fact, this speech is being simulcast right now to the University of Phoenix.”
O’Brien switched over the sign on his podium from Harvard’s crimson to Phoenix’s red briefly to shout, “Yeah! Phoenix gets it done! They get it done in two years, not four!,” before returning to his words of inspiration.
“Anyway, I know what some of you are wondering right now. How could Conan, at his age, possibly relate to me? Well to you I say do not think of me as someone who graduated from Harvard 35 years ago, think of me as a fellow classmate, a fellow classmate who looks like s–t,” Conan said. “Somehow kind of wrinkled and bloated at the same time, very hard to do. You see, I have some experience as a graduation speaker. 20 years ago, I told the graduating Harvard students to break out of their cocoon and take chances. Well, 20 years later I’d like to amend that slightly and say, stay in your cocoon! Stay! The cocoon, stay in it! I had no idea about the virus. And to you students who’ve moved back home to a blue state, please continue to be patient, wear a face mask outside and trust in science. To those of you who’ve moved back home to a red state, I’ll see you guys tonight at Applebee’s! Those onion rings.”
He added: “So do not despair this online ceremony, but celebrate it. You have been handed two choices: Use the trial of this global pandemic as the inspirational launching pad to a greater destiny or 2) Go the Trump route, and blame all your problems on the previous graduating class. Come on! Who is with me? Damn you, Class of 2019! Damn you to hell!”
Watch the full speech above, which is 10 minutes instead of the traditional 20 that Harvard gives its speakers, which Conan is pretty salty about.