Pomp, Circumstance and Irreverance: Bill Cosby Salutes the Class of 1998
IRREVERENCE got tossed into the usual mix of pomp and tradition at USC’s 115th commencement, as keynote speaker Bill Cosby delivered a memorable talk that was part stand-up comedy and part Sunday sermon.
Cosby, wearing a black-and-gold School of Cinema-Television baseball hat with tassel, exhorted graduates to have fun and “just change yourself, that’s all.” Pay off your student loan and thank your professors, he added in a rambling, 40-minute speech that touched on his own difficulties with a less-than-studious daughter.
“You guys are in trouble, I’m telling you,” he told graduates. “These people behind you [referring to parents in the audience] are smilin’, but they ain’t laughing! They want you out of the house; your sisters, your brothers want you out. They fixed a wonderful home without you.”

COSBY HAD THE once-nervous graduates and their parents in stitches throughout the ceremony, mugging and gesturing to the crowd even when he didn’t have the floor. “Everyone expected an uptight speech, but this was different,” said an approving Roza Matevosian of La Crescenta, getting a B.S. in dental hygiene for her second bachelor’s degree. “I enjoyed it; it gave me chills, especially when he talked about challenging yourself and being honest with yourself.”




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Photo by Lee Salem

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