Actor and comedian Will Ferrell delighted graduates of the University of Southern California when he took the stage as the school’s commencement speaker on Friday. The larger-than-life and over-the-top Ferrell stayed true to character as he gave graduates words to live by, took a dig or two at Donald Trump, and finished up by serenading the Class of 2017 with Whitney Houston’s iconic song of unrequited romance, “I Will Always Love You.”
Whether or not Will Ferrell actually loves the entire USC graduating class remains to be seen; it’s possible that he was just being cheeky as he sung his heart out to conclude his 25-minute speech.
Not surprisingly, the Will Ferrell commencement speech was littered with comedy, the actor’s trademark flavor. Also not surprisingly, Ferrell combined his love of higher education with a dig at embattled POTUS Donald Trump as he lauded the new graduates. Ferrell has a long history of supporting liberal politics and mocking conservative politicians and famously portrayed former president George W. Bush on Saturday Night Live throughout his two terms in the White House.
Before breaking into song, Will Ferrell bashed the former “educational institution” Trump University, cracking a joke involving an unpaid appearance fee, reports AOL News.
“I’m still waiting to get paid by Trump University. In fact, it turns out I owe Trump University money for the honor to speak at Trump University.”
While Will Ferrell awed his fans with his humor, wit, and musical prowess (any fans of Stepbrothers already knew that he’s got some serious musical chops), Ferrell did more than just ham it up as he spoke to the graduating class for nearly half an hour. As TIME reports, the endearing comic gave some words of wisdom to the graduate who might not know where they are heading now that their time as students has come to an end. According to Will Farrell, his enormous success didn’t come overnight. A graduate of USC himself (he was a Sports Information major, a program that Ferrell admitted had been canceled at the university eight years after he graduated), Will told the student body that he ended up far from where he planned to be when he finished school. And that’s okay.
“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 okay. That’s the same chair that I sat in. Enjoy the process of your search without succumbing to the pressure of the result. Trust your gut, keep throwing darts at the dartboard. Don’t listen to the critics and you will figure it out.”
See Will Ferrell sing Whitney Houston during USC commencement spech https://t.co/jUPxBNgih0
— Rolling Stone (@RollingStone) May 13, 2017
Will Farrell also told the USC graduating class that he doesn’t define his life’s success by his career, fame, and/or fortune. Rather, the comedian told the throngs of cheering grads that his success is measured in his family – his beautiful wife and three young sons. Also, according to Farrell, emotional intelligence is just as important as having a degree, and it comes from places deeper and more profound than any university.
“To me, my definition of success is my 16-and-a-half year marriage to my beautiful and talented wife, Vivica. Success are my three amazing sons… no matter how cliche it may sound, you may never truly be successful until you learn to give beyond yourself. Empathy and kindness are the two signs of emotional intelligence.”
— Huggy Lowdown (@HuggyLowdownDC) May 13, 2017
— CC Love, PhD (@cclovephd) May 12, 2017
Aren't we all striving to be overpaid for what we do? -Will Ferrell
— Famous Quotes (@_Famouss_Quotes) May 13, 2017
— Suzanne LaBounty (@SuzanneNannysue) May 13, 2017
@TMZ I wish he gave a graduation speech to every college in the country! Lol!
— Anthony Morales (@TonyM_80s) May 13, 2017
Despite assuring the Class of 2017 that there is more to life than a degree, Will Ferrell was more than happy to accept an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, an honor bestowed on him just before he gave his once-in-a-lifetime commencement speech. When he addressed the graduating class, he had already become Dr. Will Farrell, and according to Will, he’s not likely to let his loving and supportive family forget that they’ve got a doctor in the house anytime soon.
“I’ve already instructed my wife and my children from this point they have to address me as Dr. Ferrell. There will be no exceptions, especially at our children’s various school functions, and when opening Christmas presents.”
— USC (@USC) May 12, 2017
In fact, Ferrell told the crowd that his new honorary doctorate came with a couple of terms and conditions, not the least of which would require a brave volunteer.
“I’ve been informed that I can now perform minimally invasive surgery at any time or any place, even if people don’t want it. In fact, I am legally obligated to perform minor surgery at the end of today’s ceremonies, or my doctor’s degree will be revoked.”
Even when it was all said and done, it still wasn’t all said and done. After blowing the collective minds of the USC Class of 2017, Will Ferrell had one more trick up his sleeve: a bit of musical loving, a la Whitney Houston.
Will Ferrell singing ???? "I Will Always Love You" is the best thing ever. Just watch this folks. pic.twitter.com/ixr2HO6Gap
— Dylan (@DylansFreshTake) May 12, 2017
What do you think of Will Ferrell’s epic USC commencement speech and performance? Let us know in the comments below.
[Featured Image by Richard Vogel/AP Images]