Is This the Best Graduation Speech of All Time?

Each year around this time, famous comedians, well-known politicians, great writers, and other individuals of note make the rounds at America’s universities, giving seniors the last words of wisdom they will hear before they are officially graduated and thrust into the real world. And each year, the rest of us watch those addresses to decide which were the best, funniest, or most poignant (here’s one of our recent choices), and how they stack up against other perennial favorites (these are some of ours).

David Foster Wallace’s 2005 commencement address to Kenyon College, called “This is Water,” is often cited as one of those favorites: Here it is at the top of Time’s list of best graduation speeches … and Policymic’s, and Quora’s, and Inspyr’s. But whether or not you think it’s one of the best commencement addresses of all time, it’s now almost certainly the most-watched, thanks to a short film interpretation that’s been going viral.

The nine-minute-long YouTube video (an abridged version of the original speech) has received over four million views in just about a week.

Why reinterpret this speech now, eight years after it was given? The Glossary, the video production company behind the video, told Adweek, “Our main goal was to expose people to the content of the speech,” adding that “we felt like this message actually changed the way we thought about life in a way that went beyond the typical cliched advice into something actually useful.”

Watch for yourself. Does it rank among your favorite commencement speeches of all time? What else makes your must-watch list?


  1. Right… all you can be with honesty, respect, diligence, loyalty, perseverance, timeliness and keep up your friendship with your best pals. Do these and all else will fall in place

  2. This is the dumbest speech I ever heard, commencement or other. This is supposed to lift graduates` spirit and tell them to be all they can be? We all know that life can be very stressful at times. Stressful? This is a depressing stressful speech and if could be rated I give it a D or F.

    1. lol fair enough. What’s one that you like and would recommend to graduating seniors?

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