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Funnyman Steve Carell Inspires Seniors at Princeton

Be kind, make someone laugh and don't take yourself too seriously, Carell told Princeton seniors.

When comedian Steve Carell went to college, girls rejected him in person.

Library books were filled with the history — and dead skin cells and Doritos fingerprints — of the readers beforehand.

Google, Facebook and Twitter? They didn’t exist.

Now, dates are made — or rejected — via text, more and more books are available on the Kindle or iPad and we rely on technology to get through our daily lives.

“As human beings, we should naturally crave contact with one another,” Carell told Princeton University’s Class of 2012 at Class Day on Monday. “But sadly, as the world grows more and more technologically advanced, we lose our ability to connect as human beings.

"We have lost touch with our simpler selves, and by 'we' I mean you," Carell said. "You are young ... and because of that, you are wrong."

Carell, who portrayed the lovable but bumbling Michael Scott on NBC’s “The Office” until April, 2011, was selected as the Class Day 2012 keynote speaker. The event included student speakers, awards and induction of honorary class members. 

Commencement will take place on Tuesday. 

Carell’s niece, Maggie, is a member of Princeton University’s graduating class of 2012.

Despite heavy rain, University officials held Class Day outside, so it was a sea of plastic orange ponchos and black umbrellas on Cannon Green behind Nassau Hall. Students and parents alike wiped down their plastic seats with paper towels before the ceremony began.

Carell was once on track to attend law school. But the 1984 Denison University graduate became stumped while filling out Stanford Law School’s application when the essay question read,  ‘Why do you want to be an attorney?”

“I really had no idea,” Carell told Princeton’s graduating seniors. “It sounded good. My parents had worked extraordinarily hard to give me a great education, and I felt that I owed them some sort of valid career choice. So I sat down with my folks, and asked them what they thought, and they proceeded to give me the best advice that I had ever received, or would ever receive. Their words were profound, wise, and they completely altered the rest of my life.

“They said something like ‘blah, blah, blah, follow your dreams, blah, blah, blah.’ I don’t remember exactly what it was, but I didn’t go to law school.”

His advice? Find your passion and pursue it. It's worked for Carell, who has entertained millions first on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and later, The Office. He also has a successful movie career, starring in Evan Almighty, The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Little Miss Sunshine.

But the funnyman also wanted to impart some practical advice:

Show up on time- being late is disrespectful. The words ‘regime’ and ‘regimen’ are not interchangeable. Get a dog — cats are lame. Try to avoid “That’s what she said” jokes, and whatever you do, don’t try to explain those jokes to your parents. Tip on the entire check, don’t subtract the tax first.

“And every once in a while, put something positive into the world,” Carrell said. “We have become so cynical these days. And by we, I mean us. So do something kind, make someone laugh, and don’t take yourself too seriously.”

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