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Will Ferrell channels Whitney Houston during USC commencement speech

The funnyman told the Class of 2017, via song, ‘I Will Always Love You’

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Will Ferrell sent off this year’s graduating class from the University of Southern California with words from Whitney Houston. Capping his commencement speech during a ceremony on Friday, the comedian sang the iconic “I Will Always Love You” (made popular by Houston thanks to 1992’s The Bodyguard, but before that by Dolly Parton, who wrote the song), but with more of a lighter, falsetto that earned a ton of laughs.

“Enjoy the process of your search without succumbing to the pressure of the result,” Ferrell said. “Trust your gut, keep throwing darts at the dartboard, don’t listen to the critics, and you will figure it out. Class of 2017, I just want you to know you will never be alone on whatever path you may choose. If you do have a moment where you feel down, just think about the support you have from this great Trojan family. Imagine me — literally picture my face — signing this song gently into your ear.”

Those not in attendance can view Ferrell’s rendition in the above livestream video beginning at the 1:51:00 mark. However, guests also shot footage of the moment and posted it to social media.

Ferrell’s Houston moment recalls the actor’s 2003 commencement address at Harvard, from which Ferrell joked he didn’t get a call back from admissions. The Anchorman star danced out onto the stage in a sailor’s cap to the tune of Kool & the Gang’s “Celebration.”

Ferrell received an honorary degree from USC on Friday, making him a Doctor of Humane Letters, which he joked also makes him like a real doctor. “I have been informed I can now perform minimally invasive surgery at any time or place even if people don’t want it,” he said. “In fact, I am legally obligated to perform minor surgeries at the end of today’s ceremonies or my doctorate degree will be revoked.”

The jokester also took aim at the United Airlines controversy, saying, “Next time I am flying and they ask if there is a doctor on board, I can scream, ‘I am a doctor, what can I do? Yes, no problem, I can deliver that baby.’ Hopefully it will be on United Airlines in which I would be immediately subdued and dragged of the aircraft, which will be recorded on someone’s iPhone and put on YouTube.”

Watch the full address in the livestream above.

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