Graduation memories are unfolding for college students at campuses across the country. Some are lucky enough to have speeches presented by the foremost thinkers of our time. Don’t discount them because of their celebrity. They’re bright, interesting, see the world from a different angle, and often leave otherwise stodgy commencement speeches feeling a little lighter.
We’ve rounded up the commencement speeches given by actors, actresses, and even tech giants that left us inspired, humbled, and in stitches.
In 2006, Stephen Colbert gave the commencement speech at Knox College, a private liberal arts school in Galesburg, IL. His opening remarks played on his thinly veiled real life/television persona. “I play someone on television named Stephen Colbert. He looks like me and talks like me, but with a straight face, says things he doesn’t mean. I’m not sure which one of us you invited here today.”
It didn’t take long to figure out which Stephen Colbert showed up. In his trademark farcical, news anchor style, he was light on the wisdom and heavy on “truthiness.” He somehow pulled off a law student/beer pong/Dred Scott joke, and claimed to have attended Knox College. “It doesn’t get reported much, partly because the press doesn’t do proper research, and partly because it’s not true,” he said.
It only took him 18 minutes, but he finally squeezed in some genuine remarks. He talked about his experience with improvisational comedy troupes, and how the spontaneity imitated life. “You’re about to start the greatest improv of all. You’ll have no script, no idea…and you are not in control. So say yes, and if you are lucky, people will say yes back,” he said. “Saying yes begins things, saying yes is how things grow. Yes is for young people, and that’s the word.” Read the rest of this entry »