A study in sarcasm: Jon Stewart’s commencement address

Humor and sarcasm are tricky for any speech. Jon Stewart delivered one dripping in sarcasm, but did he pull it off?

Thank you, Mr. President, I had forgotten how crushingly dull these ceremonies are. Thank you.

My best to the choir. I have to say, that song never grows old for me. Whenever I hear that song, it reminds me of nothing.

Well, that’s certainly an opener. Some speakers may prefer waiting until later in the speech to unleash the cutting sarcasm; Stewart jumps right in.

But today isn’t about how my presence here devalues this fine institution. It is about you, the graduates. I’m honored to be here to congratulate you today. Today is the day you enter into the real world, and I should give you a few pointers on what it is. It’s actually not that different from the environment here. The biggest difference is you will now be paying for things, and the real world is not surrounded by three-foot brick wall …

Here Stewart flirts with the standard commencement address promising to offer pointers and then … delivers more sarcasm.

Let’s talk about the real world for a moment. We had been discussing it earlier, and I … I wanted to bring this up to you earlier about the real world, and this is I guess as good a time as any. I don’t really know how to put this, so I’ll be blunt. We broke it.

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