Stephen Colbert, the host of his own Comedy Central show, Emmy winner, faux presidential candidate and best-selling author, added to that esteemed collection an award from Princeton University: “The Great Princeton Class of 2008 Understandable Vanity Award.”
The award was mounted on a mirror.
“I have to say, I’ve never seen anything more beautiful,” Colbert on Monday told the 2,611 Princeton graduates-to-be assembled at Class Day, which is held each year the day before commencement. Senior Class President Tom Haine pointed out that the ceremony was held in front of ivy-covered Nassau Hall in an area where Gen. George Washington defeated the British in the Battle of Princeton.
“Mr. Colbert is, as George Washington was, a great patriot,” Haine said. “He stands firm against the liberal tyrannies of our time. In other words, he fits right in.”
During his speech, Colbert — in character as a right-wing, blowhard political commentator — tweaked the customary message of graduation speeches by imploring students to maintain the status quo.
“You can change the world,” he said. “Please don’t do that, OK? Some of us like the way things are going now.”
And instead of telling graduates to conquer their fears, he admitted his. “I’m scared of you,” he said. “I can tell you are go-getters. At my college, for instance, no one got out of bed before 11 o’clock.”
He also made fun of the black and orange class jackets — known as “beer jackets” — that the graduates wore, and other aspects of Princeton culture.
“When you leave here,” the comedian said, “no one will ever, ever want to hear you sing a capella. And those jackets you’re wearing, do not wear them to your job interview.”
Then, he was presented with one.
“In that case,” he said, “I take it back. This is a beautiful jacket. Change the world.”