Brow Beat

Watch Stephen Colbert’s Surprisingly Earnest Wake Forest Commencement Speech    

Wake Forest University’s Class of 2015 got some sage, hilarious advice from recent Colbert Report grad Stephen Colbert on Monday. After a few minutes of topical banter and some light mockery of Wake Forest traditions (all of which you can watch in the video of the speech above), the comedian, who will soon take over The Late Show for David Letterman, pointed out that he’s at a similar crossroads to the graduates:

It’s time to say goodbye to the person we’ve become, who we’ve worked so hard to perfect, and to make some crucial decisions in becoming who we’re going to be. For me, I’ll have to figure out how to do an hour-long show every night. And you at some point will have to sleep. I am told the Adderall wears off eventually.

Colbert also pointed out that with so many people trying to appeal to them, gain their votes, and sell them things as adults, the graduates will need to develop good B.S. detectors—and their own set of standards to evaluate themselves. “From now on, you fill out your own report card,” he said. “You are your own professor now.” Equally important, Colbert added, was to hold the world to the same standards, and to refuse to relent when others say improvement is impossible, “Get ready for my generation to tell you everything that can’t be done, like ending racial tension, or getting money out of politics, or lowering the world’s carbon emissions.” It was a rare bit of sincerity from the satirist.

The earnestness didn’t last long. Before he left, Colbert gave one last piece of encouragement from a documentary he saw over the weekend—Mad Max: Fury Road: “May you ride eternal, shiny, and chrome.”