With the announcement that Stephen Colbert will deliver the 2011 commencement speech, many are wondering which version of the satirist will show up to Ryan Field in June.
Will it be Stephen Colbert: Northwestern alum and successful comedian? Or will it be Stephen Colbert: right-wing commentator and one-time presidential hopeful (there are, indeed, two separate Wikipedia pages)?
This will not be Colbert’s first commencement speech. After receiving an honorary degree from Knox College, he gave the 2006 address. Colbert said, almost begrudgingly at the time, that he didn’t know which version of himself would make an appearance.
“My name is Stephen Colbert, but I actually play someone on television named Stephen Colbert, who looks like me and who talks like me, but who says things with a straight face he doesn’t mean. And I’m not sure which one of us you invited to speak here today. So, with your indulgence, I’m just going to talk, and I’m going to let you figure it out,” Colbert joked.
If past history can predict anything, it will most likely be the latter persona. In other words, don’t expect this year’s graduation to be totally PC. Unlike most commencement speakers, when he received “The Great Princeton Class of 2008 Understandable Vanity Award,” he urged graduates to not change the world.
“You can change the world,” he said. “Please don’t do that, OK? Some of us like the way things are going now.” He went on to say further that global warming can be nice if you’re ever in a drafty restaurant seat.
He even teased Northwestern students in addressing the grads.
“I can tell you are go-getters. At my college, for instance, no one got out of bed before 11 o’clock,” Colbert mocked.
However, no matter which Colbert shows up to Ryan Field on graduation day, it is sure to be memorable.