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Colbert's Report to Knox: Improvise!
June 09, 2006
Stephen Colbert, Roger Taylor

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

Knox College commencement 2006Stephen Colbert
Shirley BarnesKnox professors Lane Sunderland and Nancy Eberhardt, left, with honorary degree recipient Shirley Barnes, former U.S. Ambassador to Madagascar. She was honored for her diplomatic career and current efforts on behalf of economic development in Africa and against human trafficking through the Barnes Findley Foundation.
Jimmy WalesJimmy Wales receives the honorary degree of doctor of laws. Wales is the founder of Wikipedia, the massive, free, publicly edited, on-line encyclopedia.
Diane RosenbergKnox awarded an honorary degree to Diane Rosenberg, a 1963 Knox graduate who has served as chair of the College's Board of Trustees for the past five years.
Knox College graduation 2006Knox College graduation 2006
Knox College graduation 2006

Above -- a late arrival hustles to his place in line; grads greet family and friends as they march to the ceremony.

Left, a standing ovation caps Stephen Colbert's remarks to graduates.

Below, Knox trustee John Podesta with Stephen Colbert; senior class officers Tina Gallinati and Shirley Raveendran get their caps autographed.

Photography by Peter Bailley, John Baillie, Brian Chi Zhang and Ben Muwen Kong.

Knox College graduation 2006Stephen Colbert
Extra — Senator to Stephen: "Welcome to Illinois!" The media, including the Chicago Sun Times and Belleville News Democrat, report on a letter from last year's commencement speaker to this year's guest of honor.



Peter Bailley
309 341 7337

Video, Audio, and Transcripts of Commencement Address by Stephen Colbert

Stephen Colbert

Mainstream Media:
Chicago Tribune
New York Daily News
Houston Chronicle
St Louis Post Dispatch
Quad City Times
Los Angeles Daily News
Editor & Publisher
Canadian Broadcasting
Galesburg Register Mail
WIUM (NPR, Macomb, IL)

On-Line and Blogs:
TV Squad
The Hill

(Links valid as of June 6, 2006)