Yes, Maya Rudolph (and Oprah and Beyonce) rocked Tulane’s commencement

Maya Rudolph brought friends Oprah Winfrey and Beyonce up on stage with her, figuratively speaking, when she gave Tulane University’s graduating Class of 2015 a commencement speech that expounded on the virtues of saying, “Yes, and ...”

The New Orleans university had a treat for the “Saturday Night Live” alum before she opened her mouth, however. Tulane’s Green Envy a cappella group serenaded her with its take on “Lovin’ You,” the most famous song by her late mother, Minnie Riperton.

“You just blew my mind. I am so honored. You’re going to make me cry, and I’m supposed to be funny,” the actress said Saturday. “This is going to be interesting.”

And interesting it was, as Rudolph shared the magic of “Yes, and ...,” a core tenet of the Groundlings improvisational troupe, a hotbed for training comedic talent in Los Angeles.


The idea is, she said, “to say yes, and not just yes but to add information. So in the adding of information you don’t negate the other person’s idea, but in fact you build on it.”

Not a bad way to go through life, eh?

For example, if the president of the university told her she was Oprah Winfrey, it would be much better if she said yes, and -- well, launched into an Oprah impression (around the 11:30 mark in the video).

“Today, Class of 2015,” she bellowed, “look under your seats because you are all leaving here today with a college diplomaaaaaa! You get a diploma, you get a diploma, you get a diploma and you sir, you get a diploma. We’re all getting diplomaaaaaas!”

Though Rudolph’s own diploma came from UC Santa Cruz, she has ties to Tulane: Her dad Richard Rudolph graduated in 1968 and her cousin Sabrina Rudolph is Class of ’15 -- and got roundly teased when Maya made her stand up and wave to the entire Superdome.

Though she did advise graduates to take as many bikini pictures as they could now, while their bodies were still smokin’ hot, the speech wasn’t all comedy.

“If I must give any of you advice, it would be this: Say ‘Yes.’ Say ‘Yes and,’ and create your own destiny,” Rudolph said. “Hold on to your old friends. Kiss your mama. Admit what your dreams are. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t know what you’re going to do tomorrow, but work hard and don’t be lazy. And put away your damn iPhone once in a while.

“And also, be nice to jerks because we still don’t know the criteria for getting into heaven yet. Now go make your parents proud and figure out how to end global warming.”

And then, because she could, and because they were in the Superdome for gosh sakes, Rudolph asked everyone to rise again for the national anthem -- which she then spent about four minutes, starting at the 14:15 mark, performing as Beyonce.

Yes -- and she was sure to include a little bit of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and “Single Ladies.” Check it all out for yourself, above.

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