If you are delivering a speech at a graduation ceremony, whether the graduation is your own, or if you are a faculty member, adding humor to the speech will make the speech more entertaining and even make you feel more comfortable and less nervous during the delivery. A graduation speech is an appropriate ceremony for adding humor, from high school graduations to college graduations.
Make jokes about national events that have occurred during your high school or college years. If you are a faculty member, make comparison jokes comparing your time in high school or college and the students graduating now. Age jokes are always appreciated, but think up something fresh, don’t resort to “Back when I graduated, when the dinosaurs roamed the earth…”
For a small graduation class, roast fellow classmates. This works best for small high schools, where students have gotten to know one another. Avoid topics that you know will offend certain graduates; avoid jokes based on skin color and size. Play on nicknames and accomplishments of your fellow students.
In the style of the comedic roast, you may also poke playful, harmless fun at faculty members. Play on the personalities of teachers and principals. Remember to avoid jokes or comments that will offend groups of people or embarrass the individual you mention.
Joke about future events including the career plans of certain graduates or what you expect at future class reunions. Play on the superlatives that fellow classmates received, such as “I don’t know what Julia plans on doing with her ‘Most Beautiful’ award in 50 years.”
Recall humorous events during your high school or college career. Talk about your own embarrassing moments, and mention pranks your friends played on one another.
Place jokes and humorous anecdotes appropriately; there needs to be a serious side to a graduation speech as well. Remember to mention events that you miss, honor classmates that have passed away and give thanks to teachers and fellow classmates that have inspired you.
Practice your speech several times and concentrate on the delivery of the jokes and humorous anecdotes. Even if you are naturally witty and jokes come to you easily, it is best to write the speech beforehand and practice the delivery before the ceremony. Use index cards to remember the jokes and humor you added to the graduation speech.
Run jokes by family members or close friends to make sure the jokes are appropriate and that you are delivering the jokes and anecdotes in a humorous manner. Avoid sharing the speech with too many people; if too many people hear the speech beforehand, it will not be as funny during the graduation ceremony.