Imitatio Assignment

Jim Carrey’s 2014 Commencement Speech: An Imitation


The rhetorical model I have chosen to follow is a graduation speech, which is also a panegyric speech. The speech I imitated is Jim Carrey’s 2014 commencement speech at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa. In typical Jim Carrey fashion, he opened his speech with some humor. He said, “Faculty, Parents, Friends, Dignitaries…Graduating Class of 2014, and all the dead baseball players coming out of the corn to be with us today” (Carrey 2014). He then changed his tone from being funny to serious while trying to give the graduating class some advice to live by. As I read and watched this speech on the university’s website and YouTube, I was shocked to see how serious and sincere he could be. I have always seen Jim Carrey as the goofy, funny actor that everyone loves. Not only did Jim Carrey give the commencement address, but the Maharishi University Board of Trustees awarded him with a degree of “Doctor of Fine Arts Honoris Causa” (Maharishi University 2014) for the work he has done through being a famous “comedian, actor, artist, author, and philanthropist” (Maharishi University 2014). In 2005, Carrey founded “The Better U Foundation” which helps to support “global food security and helps rice farmers earn a better living for their families by supporting the System of Rice Intensification” (Maharishi University 2014). Then in 2013, Jim Carrey published a book called How Roland Rolls which discussed the “classical wisdom of Vedanta” (Maharishi University 2014). Carrey then revealed one of his own paintings to the audience to help explain part of his speech. Another reason Jim Carrey was chosen is because he practices Transcendental Meditation (TM) and has been to Maharishi before. At Maharishi University, every student and faculty member practices Transcendental Meditation. At the graduation ceremony, Maharishi University of Management awarded degrees to 285 students from fifty-four different countries. Carrey’s speech and presence brought plenty of laughter and enjoyment to his audience.


The Original Speech

“You already know who you are and that peace, that peace that we’re after, lies somewhere beyond personality, beyond the perception of others, beyond invention and disguise, even beyond effort itself. You can join the game, fight the wars, play with form all you want, but to find real peace, you have to let the armor fall. Your need for acceptance can make you invisible in this world. Don’t let anything stand in the way of the light that shines through this form. Risk being seen in all of your glory… Even those who are closest to you and most in love with you; the people you love most in the world can find clarity confronting at times… ultimately, we’re not the avatars we create. We’re not the pictures on the film stock. We are the light that shines through it. All else is just smoke and mirrors. Distracting, but not truly compelling” (“Jim Carrey Commencement Speech: Full Video and Transcript,” 2014).


My Imitation

One thing we are all always looking for is acceptance. You may sit there and wonder “Do they like me or not?” or “Did I do something to make them dislike me?” No one judges us more than we do, ourselves. When we know that we are accepted and/or liked, then we feel calm or happy. Something my parents have told me as I have grown up is that “you will eventually figure out who you are and what you want.” That is something I think some or all of us face as a challenge. We might not know who we are or who we want to be, and that is okay. It seems really easy for us to hide behind our phones and computers so that we do not have to have any kind of interactions with others face-to-face. We can hide behind our screens and say whatever we want and act however we want to because no one can see us face-to-face. It is easy to put on a face of makeup or pretend to be someone we are not, however, this does not get us anywhere. We all have a need to be wanted and accepted, however, sometimes too much time can be devoted to fixing this need that we do not work to open our eyes to the world around us. Everyone deals with fear and anxiety of not being accepted or liked at some point in their lives. If you are like me, you live in constant anxiety that no one likes or loves you, sometimes not even your family. However, I believe that this fear of mine would change if I tried to expose myself to new relationships and spend more time with my friends and family. We are so much more than who we are online. You might plaster a fake smile on your face to hide your true identity, but let that smile transform into being real and genuine. At the end of the day, it really does not matter what others think about you. If you like yourself, then others will too.


For my version of Jim Carrey’s speech, I chose to talk a lot about acceptance and how we all fear not being accepted or rejected. I got this feeling from reading Carrey’s original speech. In his speech, he talked about what he thought if he imagined himself not being a comedian or actor. In my opinion, he uses his professions as defining characteristics of who he is. I think that, especially today, that we see examples of what we should be or do from celebrities’ Instagram profiles, Twitter accounts, and what they physically do in public. What clothing do they wear? What makeup do they wear? What do they do that attracts a lot of attention? As I stated in my version of the speech, sometimes we are the biggest judges of ourselves. Sometimes you have to take the protective shield off and show others who we really are, which is difficult at times. As Mr. Carrey explained, even the people that you think are the bravest, strongest, fearless people still have to face the difficulty of acceptance.




Jim Carrey Commencement Speech: Full Video and Transcript. (n.d.). (J. Carrey, Producer, & MUM) Retrieved September 24, 2017, from Maharishi University of Management:


Jim Carrey Speaks at MUM 2014 Graduation. (n.d.). (MUM) Retrieved September 24, 2017, from Maharishi University of Management:


Strauss, V. (2014, May 28). Jim Carrey gives commencement speech at Maharishi University of Management. (The Washington Post) Retrieved September 24, 2017, from The Washington Post: