Comedian and actor Tim Minchin had University of Western Australia graduates rolling in the aisles at a graduation ceremony, where he was awarded an honorary doctorate.

"Arts degrees are awesome and they help you find meaning where there is none - and let me assure you, there is none," Minchin joked.

"Don't go looking for it. Searching for meaning is like searching for a rhyme scheme in a cookbook.

"You won't find it and it will bugger up your souffle."

Minchin, a former arts student at the university, joined 225 graduates receiving their degrees on Tuesday night.

The composer and writer of the Olivier award-winning play Matilda was given the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters for his contribution to the arts.

Addressing the students, Minchin joked that although he did not consider himself an inspirational speaker because he had not lost a limb or had what many would consider a proper career, he did have an inflated sense of self-importance because people listened to him as a public figure.

With that in mind, he shared nine life lessons, promising some would be inspiring, others boring and all forgotten in a week.

Minchin's first tip was to not have a dream: "I advocate passionate dedication to the pursuit of short-term goals. Be micro-ambitious.

"If you focus too far in front of you, you won't see the shiny thing out the corner of your eye."

Minchin also told the students not to seek happiness: "Happiness is like an orgasm. If you think about it too much, it goes away."

He also told them life was all luck and, even if you had the drive to succeed, you were lucky to be born with that tenacity.

Minchin also advised the graduates not to rush and panic about what to do with their lives, exercise, think critically and be a teacher because they are the "most admirable and important people in the world".

He added people should define themselves by what they loved and "be pro-stuff, not just anti-stuff", and respect people with less power.

London-based Minchin will soon begin work on a musical film for DreamWorks Animation.

 

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