Jerry Seinfeld Sure Sounds Like a Conservative in His Duke Commencement Address

I’ve been a fan of Jerry Seinfeld since I was in middle school. His sitcom “Seinfeld” has been my favorite show since I was 11 or 12 years old. As an adult, I’ve gone to see him do stand-up comedy several times. 

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I’ve appreciated the fact that unlike many of his Hollywood contemporaries, he’s remained rather apolitical in public. I’ve never had any illusions that he wasn’t a liberal. He’s a Jew from New York, after all, and he’s reportedly very close with George Stephanopoulos and his wife. Seinfeld’s co-stars and collaborators, however, have never been shy about pushing their politics. Heck, even Jason Alexander, who played George Costanza on “Seinfeld” has blocked me on X/Twitter.

Seinfeld delivered a commencement address at Duke University over the weekend, which we covered here at PJ Media because antisemitic graduates decided to stage a walkout during his speech. Today, however, I want to talk about what he actually said during his speech.

“Privilege is a word that has taken quite a beating lately,” Seinfeld pointed out. “Privilege today seems to be the worst thing you can have. I would like to take a moment to defend it. Again, a lot of you are thinking, I can’t believe they invited this guy. Too late. I say, ‘Use your privilege.’ I grew up a Jewish boy from New York. That is a privilege if you want to be a comedian.”

Seinfeld continued:

If I messed up a funny story around my relatives, they would go ‘That’s not how you tell that joke. The prostitute has to be behind the drapes when the wife comes in.’ You went to Duke—that is an unbelievable privilege. I now have an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters degree from Duke University. And if I can figure out a way to use that, I will. I haven’t figured anything out yet. I think it’s pretty much as useful in real life as this outfit I’m wearing. But so what? I’ll take it. My point is we’re embarrassed about things we should be proud of and proud of things we should be embarrassed about. 

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He continued by pointing out how, when he was writing his sitcom, there were Harvard guys involved, whom he said were fantastic, but they were all embarrassed to say they were from Harvard and never talked about it or mentioned it.

And then he threw shade at Harvard.

“I’m not talking about Harvard now,” Jerry clarified. “I’m talking about the way it used to be. You’re never going to believe this: Harvard used to be a great place to go to school. Now it’s Duke. You didn’t fake your fabulous education. You earned it. Be proud of it. Don’t just drop it on people right before you serve in pickleball.”

RelatedJerry Seinfeld Blames the ‘Extreme Left’ for Ruining Comedy

Then Seinfeld blasted AI, which he called, “the most embarrassing thing we’ve ever invented in mankind’s time on Earth.”

Oh, so you can’t do the work? Is that what you’re telling me? You can’t figure it out. This seems to be the justification of AI: “I couldn’t do it.” This is something to be embarrassed about. The ad campaign for Chat GPT should be the opposite of Nike: You just can’t do it. Making fake brains is risky. Frankenstein proved that he was so dumb he thought a monster needed a sport jacket. It’s not a wine tasting, you’re terrorizing villagers. No one’s gonna tell you “I’m sorry, Mr. Stein, its jackets only this evening.” What I like is we’re smart enough to invent AI, dumb enough to need it, and still so stupid we can’t figure out if we did the right thing.

And then Seinfeld pointed out that people value finishing a project more than doing the work itself.

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Making work easier, this is the problem. So obsessed with getting to the answer completing the project, producing a result—which are all valid things—but not where the richness of the human experience lies. The only two things you ever need to pay attention to in life, are work and love. Things that are self-justified in the experience and who cares about the result? Stop rushing to what you perceive as some valuable endpoint. Learn to enjoy the expenditure of energy that may or may not be on the correct path.

You can watch this portion of the speech here.

This is not something you’d expect to hear from a Jewish New Yorker, and yet he said it. And the graduates generally sounded as though they agreed with him. And yet, it was conservative messaging, not leftist propaganda. It wasn’t Seinfeld, a Jew, defending Israel over Hamas, this was him, espousing the value of education and hard work.

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