Sunday, February 25, 2024

Patton Oswalt Gives Commencement Address to W&M Class of ’23

(Stephen Salpukas/William & Mary)

WILLIAMSBURG —  Comedian, actor and author Patton Oswalt, 1991 William & Mary graduate, admitted he was not the best student, but as the comedian proudly accepted an honorary doctoral degree from his alma mater Friday night, he stated sincerely, “Thank you for this privilege.”

W&M Chancellor Robert Gates presented the honor to Oswalt and told him, “Your alma mater is proud to celebrate the way your humor brings together a world too often divided.”

Thanking the professors and staff, Oswalt then began his Commencement Address by telling the graduating class he had three words to share with them, “You poor bastards.”

Oswalt asked the 2,050 undergraduate and graduate students to think of him as their shift manager at Walmart. The comedian then went on to describe a series of disasters that would happen all while continuing to dictate a series of everyday work tasks that have to be completed, despite the chaos happening.

Telling the graduates, “You are about to enter a hellscape where you will have to fight for every scrap of your humanity and dignity,” Oswalt laughed at his own note which stated, “say something positive here” before adding, “you do not have a choice but to be anything but extraordinary.”

“It is truly amazing to see how your generation has rebelled against every bad habit of mine and every generation that came before me,” Oswalt continued, “If you just shut off yourself from the world, life is way easier. It’s also way less colorful, way less complicated, way less nourishing, and way less memorable.”

“It’s truly stunning to see what you guys are standing up against. You guys get it and you are passing it forward. It is encouraging, and amazing, and it is energizing. So, thank you every single day for what you stand against and for what you reject,” Oswalt ended his speech by telling the graduating class, “It is time to live.”

Watch W&M graduation in its entirety here.

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