Jerry Seinfeld’s Commencement Speech Draws Cheers and Some Protest at Duke University

Several dozen students walked out of Duke University’s commencement ahead of Jerry Seinfeld’s speech Sunday.

Though Seinfeld’s speech continued uninterrupted during the ceremony — with many in the audience cheering him on — groups of students could be seen leaving as university president Vincent Price introduced the comedian, with some reports asserting Price’s words were drowned out by protestors chanting “free Palestine.”

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Elsewhere in the crowd, audiences cheered enthusiastically and chanted “Jerry! Jerry!”

The New York Times also reported that other graduates stood outside the ceremony and chanted, “Free, free Palestine.”

Seinfeld, who has been vocal about his support for Israel in recent weeks, stayed away from politics during his speech.

“The slightly uncomfortable feeling of awkward humor is OK,” he said. “I totally admire the ambitions of your generation to create a more just and inclusive society. I think it is also wonderful that you care so much about not hurting other people’s feelings in a million and one ways that we all do that every second of every day. It’s lovely to want to fix those things but, all caps, BUT, what I need to tell you as a comedian is to not lose your sense of humor.”

Seinfeld received an honorary doctorate from the university Sunday. Though not an alum of the school, Price noted that the comedian and his wife are both proud Duke parents.

As he concluded his remarks, Seinfeld returned to the topic of humor, telling the crowd, “It’s not an accessory. It’s your Stanley cup water bottle on the brutal long hike of life. And humor is not just for the stressful life, or even just the simple fun of laughing, but for the true perspective of the silliness of all humans and all existence. That’s why you don’t want to lose it. Try to enjoy some of the dumbness of it all. That’s the best life advice I can give you.”

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