Iconic comedian Eric Idle delivers 2013 Whitman College Commencement Address, performs 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life'

May 20, 2013, 14:16 ET from Whitman College

WALLA WALLA, Wash., May 20, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- What's a sure-fire way to keep your audience awake (and laughing) during a two-hour Commencement ceremony? Why, invite Eric Idle to be the Commencement Speaker, of course!

Addressing an estimated crowd of 4,000 on May 19 at Whitman College, a national liberal arts college in southeastern Washington, the former Monty Python star and creator of Broadway hit musical "Spamalot" riffed on the English propensity for "silly costumes," the George Bush Presidential Library and his college experience.

"After college it's a bit like being cast out of paradise," he joked.

Idle kept the audience in stiches throughout his witty 15-minute address to the 371 graduates, aptly titled "There's No Time Like the Pleasant." The class included Idle's daughter, Lily.

"Remember that life is very short, and life can be very pleasant, so do enjoy it," he said. "Just remember that throughout all of history, and all of the people who ever lived, there's not one single person – not Shakespeare, not Mozart, not Chaucer, not Einstein, not Hubble, not Jeff-who-feeds-the-donkeys – who wouldn't give up everything they ever achieved in their lifetimes to stand here in your place and be alive here today."

Idle also advised the Whitman graduates to see the world, never stop reading and refuse to give up. Waxing poetic, he intoned, "Life has a very simple plot: First you're here and then you're not." 

To close the ceremony, Idle performed a surprise rendition of his iconic song, "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life," to wild cheers and applause, with the audience joining in to sing the chorus. He most recently performed the number at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics.

"Graduation day is one of those days you will remember until the day you forget," quipped Idle, who received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Whitman ("My wife is thrilled she's finally married to a doctor") and had the honor of handing his daughter her diploma.

Whitman College graduates are down-to-earth, high achievers with diverse interests. An independent, non-sectarian residential college, Whitman fosters intellectual vitality, confidence and leadership in its 1,450 students. Also noted for its commitment to environmental principles, Whitman is characterized by intellect, down-to-earth sensibilities, collaboration over competition and active lifestyle.

Wrap up:

Downlaodable video files



SOURCE Whitman College