When celebrities give graduation commencement speeches, they tend to focus on how the risks they took or hardships they suffered led them to where they are today, such as Will Ferrell’s recent commencement speech to USC graduates, or Charlie Day’s inspirational keynote address at his alma mater, Merrimack College, a few years ago.
Likewise, when Maria Bamford gave the speech at the 2017 commencement at her alma mater this week, she also delved into her hardscrabble beginnings as a comedienne and performer — which involved everything from a touring Star Trek show in the south to getting an STD from dating a Vulcan during said Star Trek show, only to be later humiliated at the Hollywood Planned Parenthood for “letting it get that bad.”
But before that, the Lady Dynamite star spent the first few minutes of her speech detailing the negotiation process she used to collect her University of Minnesota appearance fee. This apparently went from “nothing” — as the college does not normally pay for commencement speakers because “as a state-funded institution, [they] have to be careful regarding the use of [their] resources” — to a modest $10,000.
Surely there was some message about self worth to be found there, as young creatives starting out are increasingly offered to be “paid in exposure,” but at the end of her speech Bamford turned the whole around by giving the net profit she earned to one lucky graduate to help pay off her student loans. The whole thing is pretty great and worth a listen, if for no other reason to hear more about that Vulcan STD thing.