Throughout Harvard’s history, many talented commencement speakers have taken to the university’s stages to send off the graduates with a touch of humor. Here are a handful of the funniest witticisms from past Ivy Orations.
N.R. Gidding and P.M. Hollister, 1941:
Gidding: “Where are you going to work, young man?”
Hollister: “In Hollywood. How they love Harvard men out there.... And all the butlers will be Princeton Ph.D’s and the maids will have been bounced from Duke. I’ll take shows in pink champagne, and roll myself dry in gossamer and roses. My mattresses will be blow-up with hot-air from The Crimson, and I’ll have so many clothes I’ll catalogue them like books in Widener.”
George Melrod, 1982:
“And despite what people say, I look forward to hearing President Bok speak, and I share the dismay of his family of learning that the Cambridge ASPCA uses tapes of his past graduation speeches to put sick and aged animals permanently to sleep.”
Eric H. Baker, 1995:
“Not being a jock, or a legacy, or especially smart, Darth Vader is rejected from Harvard. Vader turns to the dark side of the force: Yale University. Darth plots to construct a new Death Star so powerful that it will wreak havoc on Cambridge, catapulting Yale past Harvard in the U.S. News and World Reports rankings.”
Vivian Wu, 2008:
“I was in awe of my classmates before I had ever met them. I was filled with anticipation, dread, fear of inadequacy, and questions. So many questions. Would I set the low end of the curve? …Yes. Would I work up the courage to do a kegstand? …In time, yes. Would I be sexiled by my roommate? …Yes. Over and over? …Yes. Would I sexile my roommate? …Yes. I mean, No. I mean, only on those Friday nights that I said I was from BU.”
Will J. Houghteling, 2009:
"But, remember this Class of 2009, no matter how bad it gets, Harvard University is an indestructable, American brand, like Lehman brothers, or General Motors."
Blythe B. Roberson, 2013:
"Before I start I know what you guys are thinking: ‘Who is this girl?’ Most of you have never seen me or heard of me in your entire life. It’s like: ‘she doesn’t even go here.’ And honestly, I don’t go here."