If you're successful, chances are you're called on sometimes to make speeches. Maybe you love speaking in front of a crowd; maybe you don't. Regardless, a lot of people will tell you that if you want to get on the right side of the crowd right away, start with a little humor.
I'm not sure that's always the best way ever to give a speech, but if you're up for it, you're in luck. It's that time of year--commencement speech time--and we've pulled out 30 well-honed speeches with laugh lines that worked (and in a few cases, even inspired).
1. "...The first thing I would like to say is 'thank you.' Not only has Harvard given me an extraordinary honor, but the weeks of fear and nausea I have endured at the thought of giving this commencement address have made me lose weight. A win-win situation! Now all I have to do is take deep breaths, squint at the red banners and convince myself that I am at the world's largest Gryffindor reunion."
2. "Even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there."
-- Will Rogers
3. "So, what's it like in the real world? Well, the food is better, but beyond that, I don't recommend it."
-- Bill Watterson
4. "Remember that there's no one way of doing things. You know how when you unscrew something it's 'righty tighty, lefty loosey'? If you just get a hammer and hit it really hard, whatever it is, I guarantee you it'll open."
-- Fred Armisen
5. "I did fail. Time and time again. I was too short for this or too strange for that. I even had one casting director for a movie say "he'll never work in comedy." I was taking my punches but I was in the fight. That's a metaphor of course, I highly doubt I have any ability to take an actual punch."
-- Charlie Day
6. "Try putting your iPhones down every once in a while and look at people's faces."
-- Amy Poehler
7. "So long as your desire to explore is greater than your desire to not screw up, you're on the right track."
-- Ed Helms
8. "Pursue whatever it is that you want to do with your life. It is the only secret to happiness that I know except for maybe true love, that and maybe having the amazing health insurance plan that our congressmen have."
-- Lewis Black
9. "You're about to enter into a world filled with hypocrisy and doublespeak, a world in which your limo to the airport is often a half-hour late. In addition to not even being a limo at all; often times it's a Lincoln Town Car. You're about to enter a world where you ask your new assistant, Jamie, to bring you a tall, non-fat latte. And he comes back with a short soy cappuccino. Guess what, Jamie? You're fired. Not too hard to get right, my friend...."
10. "Go to it. Be bold. Be true. Be kind. Rotate your tires. Don't drink so much. There aren't going to be enough liver transplants to go around."
-- Richard Russo
11. "If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of payments."
-- Earl Wilson
12. "I don't even remember who the speaker was at my graduation. I remember squinting a lot and a vague sense that I would never again be around so many attractive, available young people in my life. It is my solemn duty to inform you that that fear is entirely well founded. This is coming from a guy who works in Hollywood, by the way."
-- Bradley Whitford
13. "I'd like to begin by thanking the class marshals for inviting me here today. The last time I was invited to Harvard it cost me $110,000. So I was reluctant to show up. "
-- Conan OBrien
14. "So I turned 40 years old one day. And you know what happened? I turned 41. THEN, I turned 42! And it just kept on going, just like that, the number kept going up! Wait! Wait! Somebody press the pause button! I just got used to being 40!"
-- Jane Lynch
15. "There's few things that get you over your own crap more than working hard."
-- Adam Savage
16. "The unfortunate, yet truly exciting thing about your life, is that there is no core curriculum. The entire place is an elective."
-- Jon Stewart
17. "Let's talk about the future, your future. A lot of you are probably worried about employment. Unfortunately most of you will end up getting jobs, especially now that you have the burden of a degree. You are the elite. You will be tomorrow's captains of industry. Sitting in front of me is probably the next Bill Gates, Donald Trump or even Ronald McDonald."
-- Sasha Baron Cohen (as Ali G)
18. "My favorite animal is the turtle. The reason is that in order for the turtle to move, it has to stick its neck out."
-- Ruth Westheimer
19. "I want to thank you for bestowing upon me this Honorary Doctorate of Amphibious Letters. To tell you the truth, I never even knew there was such a thing as "Amphibious" Letters. After all those years on Sesame Street, you'd think I'd know my alphabet. It just goes to show that you can teach an old frog new tricks."
-- Kermit T. Frog
20. "Follow your passion, stay true to yourself, never follow someone else's path unless you're in the woods and you're lost and you see a path then by all means you should follow that."
-- Ellen Degeneres
21. "It really is a true honor to be with all of you...as you embark on this exciting and challenging journey of being sober during the day."
-- Maya Rudolph
22. "You will never have more energy or enthusiasm, hair, or brain cells than you have today."
-- Tom and Ray Magliozzi
23. "If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito."
-- Bette Reese
24. "Now I usually try not to give advice. Information, yes, advice, no. But, what has worked for me may not work for you. Well, take for instance what has worked for me. Wigs. Tight clothes. Push-up bras."
-- Dolly Parton
25. "My father could have been a great comedian, but he didn't believe that that was possible for him. So he made a conservative choice instead. He got a safe job as an accountant. And when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job, and our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don't want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love."
26. "They are all nerds, all of you, except here's the difference. You are the nerds who are going to make some serious bank, which is why I am here today ... to marry the best-looking amongst you."
-- Mindy Kaling
27. "Now that you've graduated, just remember: Bosses don't usually accept notes from your mother."
-- Melanie White
28. "Life is an improvisation. You have no idea what's going to happen next and you are mostly just making things up as you go along."
-- Steven Colbert
29. "Commencement speeches were invented largely in the belief that outgoing college students should never be released into the world until they have been properly sedated."
-- Garry Trudeau
30. "I don't think there's anything certainly more unseemly than the sight of a rock star in academic robes. It's a bit like when people put their King Charles spaniels in little tartan sweats and hats. It's not natural, and it doesn't make the dog any smarter..."