HANOVER, N.H. — Conan O’Brien, a Harvard alumnus, had some teasing criticism for another Ivy League school Sunday.
Speaking at Dartmouth’s graduation, he joked that the school had an inferiority complex. Pointing to the section of tree trunk he was standing behind, he said, “You don’t even think you deserve a real podium — it looks like you stole it from the set of ‘Survivor: Nova Scotia’ or that a bear would use at an AA meeting.”
The school gave O’Brien an honorary doctorate of arts. He praised the 1,700 graduates for earning their degrees, then boasted that “Dartmouth is giving me the same degree for interviewing the fourth lead in ‘Twilight.’”
O’Brien’s run as host of NBC’s “Tonight Show” was unexpectedly cut short last year amid sagging ratings and NBC’s need to find a home for Jay Leno, whose stint in prime-time was a flop. On Sunday, O’Brien deemed failure as “a catalyst for invention.”
“There are few things more liberating in this life than having your worst fear realized,” said O’Brien, now host of the late-night show “Conan” on TBS. “Whether you fear it or not, true disappointment will come but with disappointment comes clarity, conviction and true originality.”
Speculating that some graduates’ majors or career paths may have changed during their time at Dartmouth, he told them that “whatever you think your dream is now, it will probably change and that’s OK,” said O’Brien. And with a characteristic poker face, he added, “For many of you, your sexual orientation has changed. For some of you it changed since I began my speech. I know mine has.”