Knox President Roger Taylor presents Stephen Colbert with an honorary degree at Knox's commencement on Saturday, June 3. Colbert hosts his own show on Comedy Central network, "The Colbert Report," which spoofs pretentious, personality driven political commentary programs.
Colbert advised graduating seniors to "improvise," which he did, when about two minutes into his 20-minute address, a train whistle sounded in an adjacent rail yard, and Colbert quipped, "that's my ride, actually. I have to go. I'm sorry," and turned to leave the stage.
Colbert said his work in improv theatre in Chicago taught his some valuable life lessons. "You have to keep your eyes open when you [improvise]. You have to be aware of what the other performer is offering you, so that you can agree and add to it. And through this agreement, you can improvise a scene or a one-act play. And because, by following each other's lead, neither of you are really in control. It's more of a mutual discovery than a solo adventure. What happens is often as much a surprise to you as it is to the audience.
"Well, you are about to start the greatest improvisation of all. No script. No idea what's going to happen, often with people and places you have never seen before. And you are not in control. So say 'yes.' And if you're lucky, you'll find people who will say 'yes' back."
Stephen Colbert's Commencement Address
Classics professor Brenda Fineberg's opening remarks
Stephen Colbert's honorary degree presentation
Shirley Barnes' honorary degree presentation
Jimmy Wales' honorary degree presentation
Diane Rosenberg's honorary degree presentation
Senior Class Speech
More about the 2006 honorary degree recipients