Will Ferrell wasn’t the first comedian to give a major college commencement address. Lewis Black gave a laugh-a-minute talk at UC San Diego in 2013.But USC alumnus Ferrell (Class of 1990) was a smash at the Trojans’ graduation Friday despite having to apologize to parents at the outset for his presence.
“Will Ferrell? Why Will Ferrell? I hate his movies, he’s gross,” he said, pretending to be one of those parents.
Channeling Whitney Houston, he closed by singing his version of “I Will Always Love You.”
“If I should stay, I would only be in your way,” he sang. “So I’ll go, but I know, I’ll think of you every step of the way. And I will always love you, will always love you, will always love you, Class of 2017. And I will always love you.”
He celebrated his being awarded an honorary doctorate and said his children now had to address him as Dr. Ferrell. (
Ferrell said he had been informed he could do minimally invasive surgery — “at the time and place” of his choosing, and invited hernia patients to his “surgery center” — a windowless van parked at the nearby Coliseum.
Rolling Stone noted: “Ferrell charted his journey from a USC freshman in 1986 to the Groundlings to ‘Saturday Night Live’ to box office success. He admitted that, like many of those in the audience awaiting diplomas, he didn’t have a plan upon leaving college.”
He said: ”To those of you graduates sitting out there who have a pretty good idea of what you’d like to do with your life, congratulations. For many of you who maybe don’t have it all figured out, it’s OK. That’s the same chair that I sat in. Enjoy the process of your search without succumbing to the pressure of the result.”
“The institutions to which I have spoken at previously include Bryman School of Nursing, DeVry Technical School, Debbie Dudeson School of Trucking, University of Phoenix, Hollywood DJ Academy and Trump University,” Ferrell said. “I am still waiting to get paid from Trump University. In fact, it turns out I owe Trump University money for the honor to speak at Trump University.”
But he also said his definition of success was his 16 1/2-year marriage and his three sons — 13, 10 and 8 — who took bows. And he noted his involvement with Cancer for College — scholarships for cancer survivors started by a USC classmate of his.
“No matter how cliche it may sound, you will never truly be successful until you learn to give beyond yourself,” he said in a poignant moment of seriousness.
Time.com posted a transcript of the 3,000-word address.
Other comments and coverage:
— Consequence of Sound (@coslive) May 13, 2017
Will Ferrell singing Whitney Houston at USC graduation is exactly what we need right now. https://t.co/9uOWvK1Dpa
— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) May 13, 2017
— GATZ (@findGATZ) May 13, 2017
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