May 4, 2020
Ellen Degeneres Commencement Speech Transcript 2020
Ellen Degeneres gave a virtual graduation speech from her home, congratulating the class of 2020. Read the full transcript of her commencement speech here.
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Ellen Degeneres: (00:00)
Hi, everyone and welcome. I want to make you feel good for an hour, at least an hour really. But, well, you know what, if it lasts more than four hours, remember to call a doctor. I’m bringing back some classic punchlines this week. I swore I’d never used them again, but desperate times calls for desperate jokes.
Ellen Degeneres: (00:19)
This is my second month of quarantine shows. Don’t applaud for that.
Andy Lassner: (00:24)
I think you’re doing a great job.
Ellen Degeneres: (00:26)
Andy Lassner: (00:27)
Ellen Degeneres: (00:27)
Yeah, but here’s the thing. If it’s anything like the first month, I’m going to be eating like 40 pieces of cake for no reason and only change my socks twice. There’s no reason to change them really when they don’t get dirty.
Andy Lassner: (00:42)
Well, they sweat.
Ellen Degeneres: (00:45)
But they don’t.
Andy Lassner: (00:46)
Ellen Degeneres: (00:47)
They don’t. Look, they’re fine.
Andy Lassner: (00:50)
You have nice feet.
Ellen Degeneres: (00:51)
Wait, it’s a sock.
Andy Lassner: (00:53)
Ellen Degeneres: (00:53)
Anyway, it turns out that it’s May, in case you lost track out there. You can tell it’s May because people are wearing floral print face masks. May is usually the beginning of graduation season. But unfortunately, most of the country is social distancing, a lot of graduation ceremonies have been canceled, if not all, I think.
Andy Lassner: (01:15)
I think they have been.
Ellen Degeneres: (01:16)
Yeah. Yeah. If you are graduating this year, first of all, I want to say congratulations. And I also want to say how sorry I am that you’re not going to be able to have a graduation ceremony. I know how important that is. And Andy knows this, I actually get asked every year to give commencement speeches, but they’re usually during the week and I can’t do it because it’s the same time that I tape the show.
Ellen Degeneres: (01:39)
And also, I have a fear of getting hit in the eye with one of those graduation caps because they’re extremely pointy and no one really pays attention. They just put the room in the air. I mean, I don’t know how many people have had a cap in the eye, but I have. Not from graduation, it was something else. It’s not important.
Ellen Degeneres: (02:02)
But since I’m home and you’re home, I thought I could say a few words to all the years graduates, and put your caps and gowns on if you have them nearby. I’ll put mine on real quick.
Ellen Degeneres: (02:17)
Thank you. Good afternoon, students. Buenas tardes, estudiantes. The book is in the library. El libro esta en la biblioteca. You know what? This is my homework for my online Spanish. Here it is. Sorry about that.
Ellen Degeneres: (02:51)
Class of 2020, parents, teachers, custodians, lunch ladies, principals and crossing guards. And where are my softball coaches at? Today is the first day of the rest of your life, or maybe tomorrow or the day after that. Let’s call it sometime mid June. That’s not important. The important thing is that you’ve studied incredibly hard to get to this day.
Ellen Degeneres: (03:17)
If you’re graduating high school, congratulations. High school graduation was my favorite graduation ceremony. It was the only graduation ceremony really. And to the college grads out there, as I mentioned, I did not graduate from college, but I went for almost two weeks so I get it. If you’re graduating from college, I’m so impressed. You’re 21 and you’ve already accomplished more than I had at that age.
Ellen Degeneres: (03:42)
When I was 21, my biggest accomplishment was I got front row tickets to see Peter Frampton. He was like the Harry Styles of 1979. Put that in perspective. He had a thing in his mouth… that he played when he played guitar. I think it sounded like that.
Ellen Degeneres: (04:10)
For the college grads, I want to salute you for getting your degree in science, history or whatever you’re graduating in. We need smart people. Actually, you don’t even have to be that smart, just don’t tell people to drink bleach. The bar is set pretty low at this moment.
Ellen Degeneres: (04:32)
Obviously, a lot of grads, this is a tough time to be starting out. Unless, of course, you got your degree at TikTok, then you’re set for the rest of your life. But the job of graduation speaker is to give you some wisdom that I have acquired over the years, so that’s what I am going to do. Here’s a little bit of what I know.
Ellen Degeneres: (04:51)
People who live in glass houses should never throw stones, but they should always wear pants. If you put your money where your mouth is, you might end up swallowing a penny. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, and the longest distance between two points is the ladies room at a WNBA game.
Ellen Degeneres: (05:14)
Here’s something that I’ve learned that I hope I can help with. It’ll put everything in perspective. There are going to be bad times in life, like what’s happening right now. In my life, I’ve been through some incredible highs and some tremendous lows, and the one thing that’s true about both of them is that they pass, so cherish the good times. And in the bad times, remember, they won’t last forever. It does get better.
Ellen Degeneres: (05:38)
And for all of this year’s graduates, believe me, your best days are still ahead of you. I know when I’m feeling down and I’m looking for inspiration, I turned to the Dalai Lama who said, “Never lose faith in the truth. In the end, everything will be all right. Because players are gonna to play, play, play, play, play. And the haters are gonna hate, hate, hate, hate. I’m just going to shake, shake, shake, shake, shake it off. Shake it off.”
Ellen Degeneres: (06:05)
And now, by the power vested in me by the State of California and my friends at Shutterfly, I now pronounce you graduated. Mazel tov. Mazel tov.
Andy Lassner: (06:14)
Mazelel tov, graduates.
Ellen Degeneres: (06:15)
Yeah. Andy, do you want to add anything? Do you have anything to say to the… Did you graduate college?
Andy Lassner: (06:21)
I did not graduate college. I did not.
Ellen Degeneres: (06:24)
Andy Lassner: (06:25)
But I would say, follow your dream… First of all, I thought you did a great job, but follow your dreams. Don’t let anyone try and talk you out of them. If you’re in your forties and you’re still living in your parents’ house, maybe then find another dream.
Ellen Degeneres: (06:39)
Okay. That’s good good advice. I was told that today is Teacher Appreciation Day. Is there a teacher tWitch that you want to give a shout out to?
Yes. There’s a teacher I want to give a special shout out to. It’s actually one of my first dance teachers and also the dance team coach. It was my senior year of high school. She took a chance on me. Her name is Brenda [Akin-Rambo 00:07:00]. I love you. Thank you for taking a chance on me. Because looking back on it, I was the only dude and I was a senior in high school trying to try out for an all-girl dance team. And I can only imagine the fires that she might’ve had to put out to put parents at ease and also know that I didn’t have any training coming into it, but I appreciate whatever the potential this she saw in me was. Yeah, I really do. That was big of her, so yeah.
Ellen Degeneres: (07:31)
Yeah. That’s very cool, and look where you are now, huh? I mean, it’s amazing.
Ellen Degeneres: (07:36)
It could be all because of her.
Andy Lassner: (07:39)
Andy Lassner: (07:48)
I’m trying to do… What he do, with raise the roof? What are the kids doing?
Ellen Degeneres: (07:49)
No, that’s not what you do.
Andy Lassner: (07:51)
Ellen Degeneres: (07:53)
I was also told that today is Chicken Appreciation Day. Is there a special chicken that you’d like to give a shout out to? I’ll tell you. I’d like to give a shout out to the Funky Chicken. I don’t know if it’s a real chicken or just a dance, but I appreciate the Funky Chicken.
Ellen Degeneres: (08:05)
Hey, I’ve got a joke for you. By the way, all right, listen to this joke. Do you know why a chicken coop only has two doors?
Why does a chicken coop only have two doors?
Andy Lassner: (08:16)
Why does a chicken coop only have two doors?
Ellen Degeneres: (08:17)
Because if it had four doors, it would be a chicken sedan.
Andy Lassner: (08:20)
I didn’t graduate college.