Comedy star Will Ferrell tapped as USC’s 2017 commencement speaker

Will Ferrell will speak at the 2017 commencement. (Photo/Courtesy of Will Ferrell)


Comedy star Will Ferrell tapped as USC’s 2017 commencement speaker

Actor, producer, internet pioneer and USC alum returns to his ‘old school’ to regale this year’s graduating class

March 02, 2017 Ian Chaffee

Will Ferrell ’90, an Emmy- and Tony-nominated actor and a recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, will deliver the main address at USC’s 134th commencement ceremony May 12.

Ferrell has earned accolades across multiple entertainment platforms as he crossed over from television to motion pictures, the internet and the Broadway stage.

He has starred in, written and produced many films, including Get Hard, Elf, Old School and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.

For seven seasons, Ferrell led the cast of NBC’s late-night hit Saturday Night Live, where millions of viewers first saw his fearless brand of comedy.

Among his many memorable impressions on Saturday Night Live were Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek, the Inside the Actors Studio host James Lipton and President George W. Bush. The latter led to the Broadway debut of Will Ferrell: You’re Welcome America. A Final Night With George W. Bush, a one-man comedy show that earned nominations for a Tony Award and Emmy Award.

Funny (or die) man

Ferrell received Golden Globe nominations for his roles in a remake of The Producers and Stranger Than Fiction.

In 2007, Ferrell and his longtime collaborator Adam McKay took comedy online by founding the award-winning video website The site averages over 20 million unique visitors per month.

In a testament to his impact on comedy, Ferrell was named the recipient of the 2011 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Past recipients were Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Lily Tomlin, Neil Simon and Carol Burnett.

Ferrell has also become known for his philanthropy, including his support of Cancer for College, an organization that gives college scholarships to cancer survivors.

Ferrell, a graduate of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism with a degree in sports information, has returned often to USC to support the Trojan Family. He hosted the USC School of Cinematic Arts’ 75th Anniversary Gala and has appeared as a guest drum major for the Trojan Marching Band. He participated in Swim With Mike for the Physically Challenged Athletes Scholarship Fund and was the keynote speaker for the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies discussion series.

Approximately 15,000 degrees will be conferred during USC’s commencement this year, including more than 1,500 doctorate degrees, at the main ceremony in Alumni Park and satellite ceremonies across the University Park and Health Sciences campuses.

Degree candidates, Half Century Trojans, faculty and distinguished guests will form a procession leaving Bovard Auditorium at 8:30 a.m. on May 12. USC President C. L. Max Nikias will preside over the main ceremony at 9 a.m. in Alumni Park.