"I've dwelled on my failures today because, as graduates of Harvard, your biggest liability is your need to succeed. Your need to always find yourself on the sweet side of the bell curve. Because success is a lot like a bright, white tuxedo. You feel terrific when you get it, but then you're desperately afraid of getting it dirty, of spoiling it in any way.
"I left the cocoon of Harvard, I left the cocoon of Saturday Night Live, I left the cocoon of The Simpsons. And each time it was bruising and tumultuous. And yet, every failure was freeing, and today I'm as nostalgic for the bad as I am for the good.
"So, that's what I wish for all of you: the bad as well as the good. Fall down, make a mess, break something occasionally. And remember that the story is never over."
When Conan O'Brien spoke at Harvard University's 2000 Class Day, he had a lot of things to say — many of them about Harvard. O'Brien graduated from the prestigious university in 1985, and he took at few shots at his alma mater's expense. "The last time I was invited to Harvard it cost me $110,000," he said, "so you'll forgive me if I'm a bit suspicious."
O'Brien also spoke about the difficulties of trying to make it in comedy — first as a writer for Saturday Night Live, then for The Simpsons, and then finally as a late-night talk-show host — and all of the setbacks and failures he endured along the way. He discussed his bombed television pilot, embarrassingly bad reviews and what it was like to be 28 and unemployed in New York City, proving that no one, not even the man who would one day take over the Tonight Show, escapes disappointment and self-doubt. But despite his stumbles, O'Brien kept going. And he told Harvard's class of 2000 that they should too.