I am honored to present Stephen Colbert for the degree of Doctor of Fine Arts.
Mr. Colbert was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the youngest of 11 children. After graduating from Northwestern University and after a stint with Chicago's famed Second City Improv Troupe, he became a fixture in America's hip comedy scene as a writer or actor on such venues as Saturday Night Live, Curb Your Enthusiasm, the Dana Carvey Show and, of course, the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He was also the creator and star of two groundbreaking cable series on Comedy Central, Strangers with Candy and Exit 57, which received five CableACE nominations for best writing, performing, and best comedy series.
In addition to these achievements, Mr. Colbert has appeared in a variety of other films and television shows and he is the co-author of two best-selling books of satire. It is, however, in his most recent incarnation on Comedy Central's Colbert Report that he has clearly moved from being 'just' an entertainer to becoming an important player on America's political stage. This was confirmed by his invitation to be a keynote speaker at this year's White House Correspondent's Dinner, where he ingratiated himself with the President of the United States and the White House press corps alike. This was also confirmed through his inclusion in Time magazine's recent list of the world's 100 most influential people. The Colbert Report parodies the self-important media talking heads that have alienated many from our political system, and in the process it has become an effective if not-so-gentle counterbalance to the political bullies at both ends of the political spectrum. Often, when television pundits speak, at first you think, but then you laugh. When Stephen Colbert speaks, at first you laugh; but then you think.
It is appropriate that Knox College should bestow a special honor on Mr. Colbert for his work. Knox is the home of the Muckrakers, the 19th century fathers and mothers of today's investigative reporting. Further, Knox has a rich tradition in the performing arts, one that is visible today through our mainstage productions and student-directed efforts in devised theatre and improvisation. Finally, Knox graduates have a history of mixing political commentary with the creative arts, as with Jack Finney's famous Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which used science fiction as a commentary on 1950s America. It is therefore fitting that today we give a 'tip of the hat' to Mr. Colbert and use the Knox College motto, veritas, to proclaim that The Word is 'Veritasiness.'
Mr. President, in recognition of his many accomplishments in the fields of comedy, television, and political satire and in recognition of his continued engagement with the issues, problems, and people of our times, I am pleased to present Stephen Colbert for the degree of Doctor of Fine Arts.