Sacha Baron Cohen Harvard Commencement Speech 2004

Here is the 2 part link to the speech

Sacha Baron Cohens, Ali G commencement speech at Harvard is a great speech, with great delivery and a funny but powerful message. He is able to capture the audiences attention right from the beginning because he is dressed up as one of his characters Ali G. The use of the this character and his prompts help to entertain and engage the audience right away.

Although very funny throughout the speech, he does display exigence.  The message that these students are very intelligent people and that the world today is need of them. Calling them to action and hoping they can help the world and help society as a whole. He has a fitting response about what should be done, even if it is in a light hearted manner.  He is consistently funny throughout the speech, wondering why someones parents would spend ridiculous amounts of money on tuition versus getting a new car. He points out that we need to thank our parents because they have given us so much to be thankful for and most of us could not have done it without them.

He fits his speech within a very good time constraint. Knowing he will have lost his audience if he had gone over 15 minutes.  He never loses his audience because he maintains his character even up until the end when a policeman (scripted) has to escort him out of Harvard.

I would not recommend this strategy or delivery to most people, but in the case of Sacha Baron Cohen it is fine. He is a hilarious person and his ability to stay in character was great. He was entertaining throughout and I really enjoyed the speech.

Kyle Brown


1 comment so far

  1. antonio16brown on

    Using humor in a speech is always risky, considering one is usually unaware of how their audience is going to respond. But, in Sacha Baron Cohens’ case, he is a trained comedian/actor, so a situation like this is an everyday thing for him. On the other hand for us students, who are not so well versed and comfortable speaking we need to take extra steps to ensure a good delivery. First and foremost, appropriate humor relaxes an audience and makes them feel more comfortable with you as the speaker; humor can bring attention to the point you are making; and humor will help the audience better remember your point. It can break down barriers so that the audience is more receptive to your ideas. The reasons Cohen’s speech was so well done, was that he relied on personal experiences to find humor.

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