Class Day Speech - Amy Poehler

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"You Can't Do It Alone"

Amy Poehler is a wicked smart American comedian and actor.
Amy Poehler
Harvard University
May 25, 2011

Here is a report on Poehler’s speech, from the Harvard University Gazette:

Comedian Amy Poehler brought her trademark sarcasm and sass to Harvard for Class Day, addressing seniors in Tercentenary Theatre on their last day as Harvard undergraduates, and providing a witty send-off under azure skies.

Referring to her own nearby alma mater, the Massachusetts native told the crowd during the ceremony Wednesday, “I graduated from Boston College, which some call the Harvard of Boston, but we all know that Harvard is the Harvard of Harvard. And you can quote me on that.”

If she were offering the graduates advice as a Bostonian, Poehler said, she would “remind you that just because you’re wicked smart doesn’t mean you are better than me.” Advice as a New Yorker would come with an edgy tone in the form of “Excuse me, ma’am; could you move, please?”

Her advice on becoming an actor was simple: Don’t do it. There are too many talented, out-of-work actors, complained Poehler. “Sorry, no more room at the inn,” she quipped. “I bet you are great, but, um, just work with the human genome instead.”

Offering the graduates words of wisdom gleaned from her own life and career, Poehler urged them to lean on others and take to heart the knowledge that the world is filled with smart people.

“You can’t do it alone. As you navigate through the rest of your life, be open to collaboration. Other people and other people’s ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, and spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.”

She also urged them to be kind — and quick with a tire iron.

“You are all here because you are smart and you are brave, and if you add kindness and the ability to change a tire, you almost make up the perfect person.”