Maya Rudolph’s commencement speech at Tulane missed the mark

When you hear the sentence: “Maya Rudolph is doing the commencement speech at Tulane,” you get excited, right?

At least I did. I was expecting to hear some comical yet still meaningful words from one of the funniest female comedians. But what we got was confusing, not very funny, and I can’t quite shake the feeling like I should be at least slightly offended from this video.

Now, I should preface this with the fact that I am a national anthem purist to begin with, but I also appreciate when an artist who has a beautiful voice shows off a little (a la Christina, Queen Bey, etc.), but this isn’t that and that was only part of the speech.

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It’s not even that I’m super offended that she is “making fun of the national anthem.” It’s more like it seemed forced, and it seemed unnecessary. It seemed like she missed a golden opportunity to give a more meaningful speech. I guess that’s why I don’t think it’s very funny on top of the fact that it’s just not really funny.

I get it, though, where she was coming from, she does the Beyoncé impressions, it is the Superdome, she’s got to do something right.

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Now apart from this end of her performance, her speech before it left me nonplussed. She brings up and points out several things that are true and appropriate for the audience, aptly telling it to prepare for “real life” aka being sober during the day, but also that the world is full of endless possibilities. OK, a glimmer of hope for a speech that has so far gone nowhere.

But that’s about all we get.

She joked about how she wrote the speech on the car ride… it kind of sounded like she actually might have. I kept waiting for her to say something fit for a graduation speech, not just a bunch of half-baked one-liners. And the poor Tulane faculty and staff are just as uncomfortable as Rudolph must be as her jokes fall flat to little laughter.

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The few funny points, the Oprah joke was pretty funny, but for the most part, and a few last quick “be all you can be” sentences thrown in at the end for good measure, I’m just let down by the speech on the whole. She could have read the lyrics to the “Wear Sunscreen” speech and it would have been better.


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