STEPHEN COLBERT’s Northwestern Commencement Speech (Video)


On the 25th anniversary of his own commencement,  NU alum Stephen Colbert came to college football venue Ryan Field to be the guest speaker at NU’s 153rd graduation ceremony. The entire lower section of the West Stands were packed to hear the outrageous political pundit on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” give his speech.

It was a beautiful sunny morning, and Stephen Colbert absolutely knocked his approximately 25 minute speech out of the park. He mixed hilarity with insight, and comedy with inspiration.

Today witnessed the most memorable event to happen at Northwestern’s football field since the 1995 Big Ten Champion team made their run to the Rose Bowl.

Stephen Colbert had so many great one-liners, it was easy to see why Rolling Stone named him one-half of “America’s Anchor Team” in their cover story by Maureen Dowd a few years ago. (Jon Stewart is the other half obviously)

A 1986 graduate of Northwestern’s School of Communication, Stephen Colbert is host and executive producer of the multiple Emmy and Peabody Award winning series, touted by The New York Times as “one of the best television shows of the year.” At Northwestern, Stephen Colbert was planning a serious acting career when he fell in love with comedic improv. Only two years out of college, he ended up with the Second City touring company.


Stephen Colbert perfected the high-status idiot character at Second City and later through two early series on Comedy Central, “Exit 57” and “Strangers with Candy.” He first gained wide public recognition as one of the characters in Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”

“The Colbert Report,” which deployed to Iraq in June 2009, is the first television show in U.S. history to produce a week of shows in a combat zone. Among the highlights, Gen. Ray Odierno received a direct order from Commander in Chief Barack Obama to shave Stephen Colbert’s head. This generation’s answer to Bob Hope served as Grand Marshall for the 2006 Homecoming Parade, and he’s also on the school’s National Advisory Council.

Stephen Colbert’s book “I Am America (And So Can You!)” spent 29 weeks on The New York Times’ best-seller list, occupying the number one spot for 13 weeks. Stephen Colbert was also recently profiled in Northwestern Magazine.


Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports, an author and regular contributor to MSN, Fox Sports , Chicago Now, and Walter Football.

Banks has appeared on Comcast SportsNet and the History Channel, as well as Clear Channel, ESPN and CBS radio all over the world. President Barack Obama follows him on Twitter (@PaulMBanks)


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  1. paulmbanks says:

    Colbert’s ’06 White House Correspondent’s Dinner routine was “a teachable moment.” I said it will be referenced in journalism classes for the next 100 years. Frank Rich agree with me in a NY Times column

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