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Stephen Colbert

    Writer, comedian and TV host
    Commencement Address at Northwestern University, 02 June 2011

    Life is an improvisation. You have no idea what’s going to happen next and you are mostly just making things up as you go along.


    You are what some have called “the greatest generation”. Not many – but some- so far just me. And I’m counting on you to not make me look like an idiot for saying that. So be great – no pressure.

    Northwestern’s academic resources are unparalleled. The library contains 5 million books, and 100,000 periodicals, none of which anyone reads because they’re not on an iPad. Next year, I believe Deering Library is being converted into a chipotle.

    And we didn’t have cell phones. If you made plans to meet someone in a snowstorm, and they didn’t show up, you just had to assume they were devoured by wolves and go on with your life.

    But the clearest example of how this once great institution has failed you, students? In 1986, our commencement speaker was “George Schultz”, Secretary of State, fourth in line to the President. You get me – basic cable’s second most popular fake newsman. At this rate, the class of 2021 will be addressed by a zoo parrot in a mortarboard that has been trained to say “Congratulations”.

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