Jerry Seinfeld Continues Causing Controversy After Speech Walkouts

By Christopher Isaac | Updated

jerry seinfeld

Jerry Seinfeld has seen his name brought up in the news with some regularity in recent years for upsetting college students. Specifically, his views that modern college students are too “woke” or “P.C.” to appreciate good comedy is something he has espoused on multiple occasions. On May 12, he once again upset the college crowd, but this time it was due to his views on the Israel and Palestine conflict, with his open support of Israel leading to a partial walkout at Duke University.

The Walkout

The school was having its graduation ceremony for the students and Jerry Seinfeld was this year’s commencement speaker. Trouble began brewing before he even took the stage. As he was being introduced to come out and share some words with the school, there was a significant walkout of at least a few hundred students.

As the students left their seats and walked off the field on which the ceremony was taking place, they chanted “free free Palestine” in apparent response to Seinfeld’s public views.

While the graduating class consisted of thousands of students, the walkout was still large enough to be very apparent in video footage that was posted of the incident. The students who left were said to continue chanting from the parking lot, repeating the phrase “disclose, divest, we will not stop, we will not rest”. This was obviously not the response the school had hoped for, especially in bringing in a famous comedian like Jerry Seinfeld to speak.

Seinfeld’s Speech

It is unclear how aware Jerry Seinfeld was of the walkout during the ceremony, as once he took the stage he did not acknowledge what had transpired. He kept his speech to the remaining students positive and optimistic, encouraging them to try for their goals no matter what. “Whatever you’re doing, I don’t care if it’s your job, your hobby, a relationship, getting a reservation at M Sushi, make an effort.”

Continuing with his sentiments about the importance of applying yourself, Jerry Seinfeld said, “Just pure, stupid, no-real-idea-what-I’m-doing-here effort. Effort always yields a positive value, even if the outcome of the effort is absolute failure of the desired result. This is a rule of life. Just swing the bat and pray is not a bad approach to a lot of things.”

A Supporter Of Israel

jerry seinfield

Jerry Seinfeld is himself the father of two Duke students and received an honorary doctorate degree from the school. However, when Seinfeld was announced to be this year’s speaker, there was immediate backlash over the decision from students who made it clear ahead of time that they would protest.

Seinfeld has been an open supporter of Israel since October, as has his wife. However, the situation between Israel and Palestine is also something that he did not touch on in his speech.

He’s Getting Less And Less Popular On College Campuses


While Jerry Seinfeld has not been as unanimously popular among college crowds since he began criticizing their taste in jokes, his open political views have definitely dialed up the sentiments against the actor and comedian. Prior to this, he was already a controversial figure for stating that modern audiences do not appreciate comedy due to their “extreme” leftist views.

Seinfeld’s longtime friend Larry David has managed to avoid such controversy despite dabbling in similar comedy stylings. This has led to some critics feeling that the 70-year-old comedian has become out of touch.

Plenty Stayed For The Speech

Regardless, the majority who remained for the ceremony at Duke University seemed appreciative of Jerry Seinfeld’s overall message. The key points he emphasized for the graduating class were work hard, pay attention, and fall in love.

However, for many, the views he shared off the campus may be the message that made the biggest impact, whether that was Seinfeld’s intent or not.