Comparative Critical Review on Will Farrell’s “Class Day Speech” and “Commencement Address at Washington University in St. Louis” Given by Dr. Steven Chu

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Last updated: March 25, 2019

“Commencement Address at Washington University in St. Louis” given by Dr. Steven Chu (St.

Louis: 2010) is delicately decorated, advance in design, but inconsistently constructed if we consider delivering a speech as building a house. When it comes to the supports to build a successful speech, a style that is humorous or distinctive always makes the audience fully engaged. But the idea it is trying to portray is by all means the main column of the building.Moreover, the idea should be highly relevant to the audience because a column not placed appropriately can never hold its weight.

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Based on the same topic, give speeches to enlighten graduated students, Dr. Chu delivered a much more formal speech that is highly relevant to students, but quite hackneyed inside. In comparison, the casual and informal, but meaningful speech, given by Will Ferrell, is weakly related to audiences.

According to Dr. Chu, the address encouraged the students to “Do something that matters” (Chu Para 19) instead of drifting.With vivid examples throughout his own experience, Dr. Chu also illustrated this idea using details from a movie, The Graduate. In addition, he also focused on our grim environmental situation using facts and an image from Voyager I to emphasize how small and precious our earth is and hence call on the students to “Help to save the world”(Chu Para 44). Contrastly, in his comedic Class Day Speech, Will Ferrell is trying to portray some tough, but important social experiences from his “University of Life” (Ferrell Para 6).After that, he “changed gears”(Ferrell Para 14) to imitate former president George W.

Bush’s tone, and ironically urges the students to feel free to question their leaders and subtly encouraged them to be more optimistic about the challenges. Respectively, Ferrell was excellent in idea and style while short in the relevancy to the audience. First of all, the idea is what keeps the edge. As a well experienced individual, Ferrell is full of sophisticated wisdom. Moreover, Ferrell is focusing on the difficulties and problems that the students are about to confront when they graduate.Although his words seem full of nothing but humorous complaints, the significance between his lines is far more than the words themselves. He is trying to persuade the students to face the challenges and trials with his kind of implicit optimism. And that may be the biggest shining point of this speech.

After that, the style of Ferrell’s is also earning points. Throughout the speech, Ferrell is mostly making use of idioms and jokes that help to construct the words casually so it can be better accepted and taken to heart.Believe it or not, humor is the best way to grasp focus and that is what Ferrell fully and skillfully employed.

But to the audience, as new graduates, they more often desire advises about where to go instead of how to get there. To give a well qualified commencement address to graduates and make it more appropriate and relevant to them, one should always add content on their view of life and values. Comparatively, Dr. Chus’s succinct address is clear in purpose and easy in expression. Except for a few simile and metaphors used in jokes, his explicit leading and blunt explanation set the tone of his solemn style.

But at the same time, his speech is easy to be attributed into a category that is drowsily effective. On the other hand, Will Ferrell’s implicitness make his words more meaningful than they appear. His exaggerated humor and superficial flashy acting is very effective at grasping the audience. While at the same time, he carefully hides his purpose between the lines of the jokes and idioms. His indirect and casual style make him different.

Later on, when it reached the ideas of the two speeches, the result of both was closer than my words suggest.The idea provided by Dr. Chu is hackneyed but well served as a commencement address. To a degree, it is what one needs when he is standing at a very significant crossroads in his life and has no idea where to go. As a speech given the day before graduation, the idea provided by Will Ferrell feels like a breath of the fresh air. Conducted in a humorous and casual style, his speech is socially knowledgable and very helpful for the graduates to cultivate a greater understanding of life and how to cope with it. When comparing the two speeches, Dr.Chu’s idea is old but of great importance, while Will Ferrell’s idea is delicate but a little weak to make a difference.

Furthermore, the relevance to an audience is an essential factor of a good speech and we find that Dr. Chu does a really good job on illustrating a purpose which is more relevant to the graduates directly. In Dr Chu’s speech, he first describes the problems which the graduates need to face in their future career; such as the environment and unemployment. In this case, he tries to persuade them to do something which matters instead of drifting for the rest of their lives.Compared with Dr. Chu’s speech, it seems that finding a clear purpose in Will Ferrell’s address is more difficult since it is less informative and relevant to the graduates.

He just portrays the difficulties we need to face when we step into the real world by sharing his own experiences. He gives no clear direction or guidance on the graduates future. We can conclude that Dr. Chu’s speech is better than Will Ferrell’s speech in the aspect of relevance to the audience. In this way, Dr. Chu accomplished his goal and helps the audience understand his purpose.

Overall, the speech from Dr. Chu has a lead in the relevance to the audience while Will Ferrell’s speech is filled with better ideas. Dr. Chu’s speech has an informative purpose that directs where the students’ lives and careers should go. In addition, the explicit subject and thesis of Dr. Chu is more relatable to the graduates. Lastly, the structure of the whole speech is well-organized. Although, Will Ferrell’s speech is full of exaggerated acting, his well calculated use of humor and jokes make it distinguished.

But as a whole, Dr. Chu’s speech is more appropriate.His words will serve as a brilliant beacon, giving the lost a direction to where their lives and careers should go. As to Will Ferrell, his speech can just make you feel at ease and happy about the direction you have picked. It is weird but true, in some cases we did need a speech with a hackneyed idea instead of a much more interesting one.

In conclusion, we tend to consider Dr. Chu’s speech as a better commencement one. But if you isolate the speeches from the specific circumstance and audience, Will Ferrell’s speech is an absolute winner.


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