In a Class Day address at Harvard Law School (HLS) yesterday, CNN talk show host Larry King told the audience “a couple of stories of what it’s like to be me.”
Despite the threat of rain, hundreds of degree candidates accompanied by parents, friends and relatives gathered yesterday on the steps of the law school’s Langdell Hall.
King’s first story about himself was on a speech he delivered for a Rotary Club chapter years ago.
King said he agreed to deliver a speech at a meeting of a Miami Rotary Club chapter, a group which he described as “a hundred white men in white socks and brown shoes who sell insurance to each other.”
King, who professed never to write speeches before engagements, said he was pressured to give a topic for his speech six months in advance. So he told the Rotarians that he would speak about the future of the American merchant marine, a topic he said yesterday that he neither knew of nor cared about.
And when he arrived at the meeting, King found it packed to capacity.
“They came in wheelchairs from Fort Lauderdale to hear this,” he said.
To describe the highly conservative crowd, King said “This group thought the Revolutionary War was treason.”
When he was introduced after a long history of the American merchant marine during which he was “falling asleep [and] the audience [was] orgasmic,” he made a snap decision—“if you don’t know something, leave it alone.”
Instead, King said, he talked about everything he could think of except the future of the American merchant marine.
The Rotarians, he told the laughing law students, were not amused. King described an ugly confrontation with the leader of the club before he was able to drive away.
King followed the tale of his Miami speech with an account of his near-expulsion from junior high school in Brooklyn, New York. Telling school officials that a friend had died, they solicited money under the pretense of looking to buy flowers for the family.
King also delivered a sample of the sort of news commentary that made him famous, hashing out the O.J. Simpson trial of the mid-90s and outlining what he said was the brilliant potential the situation had for being made into a television mini-series.
The closing five minutes of the final segment, he said, would show the foreman standing to give the verdict of the trial and an earthquake that reduced the courtroom to rubble—from which a hand wearing a glove would rise.
But in and around the humor, King delivered choice bits of advice to the future graduates.