Conan O'Brien's commencement address for Harvard's Class of 2000 is one of the best speeches I've ever heard.
As you would expect, the speech is filled with Conan's trademark self-effacing humor. But the real gems come at the second half of the speech, when Conan talks about his old days working at SNL and Wilson's House of Leather. Here's the entire speech:
Here's my favorite part of the speech:
I've dwelled on my failures today because, as graduates of Harvard, your biggest liability is your need to succeed. Your need to always find yourself on the sweet side of the bell curve.
Because success is a lot like a bright, white tuxedo. You feel terrific when you get it, but then you're desperately afraid of getting it dirty, of spoiling it in any way.
I left the cocoon of Harvard, I left the cocoon of Saturday Night Live, I left the cocoon of The Simpsons. And each time it was bruising and tumultuous. And yet, every failure was freeing, and today I'm as nostalgic for the bad as I am for the good.
So, that's what I wish for all of you: the bad as well as the good. Fall down, make a mess, break something occasionally. And remember that the story is never over.
Most of the time we see Conan as the charming village idiot who entertains us by dancing with the Masturbating Bear. He has so effortlessly charmed his way into our living rooms that we forget his stardom was by no means guaranteed. It was nice getting to see the more introspective side of Conan and his gloriously muddied tuxedo.