Stephen Colbert delivered the 2015 graduation speech for Wake Forest University, and it was wonderful.
Seated behind Colbert were members of the faculty and the faculty's mustaches.
(via CBSN on YouTube)
Stephen Colbert built a career on swaddling depressing truths in funny jokes, which makes him the perfect person to remind college graduates that they're now TOTALLY ALONE IN THE WORLD (or, at the very least, that they're now totally alone in paying their bills). On Monday, Colbert did just that at the commencement ceremony for Wake Forest University. He began speech with several jokes about college in general...
Of course, we mustn't forget the parents, who, to get you students to this day, have sacrificed so many things, primarily money. I'm sure there are other things they've sacrificed, but I'm gonna guess that money's the one they bring up most often.
...and Wake Forest in particular:
Wake Forest has always been a leader. In the late 19th century, this was among the first Southern schools to teach biology in a lab. Before then, you weren't supposed to learn biology until marriage.
But the meat of Colbert's speech was a lesson that he may have pulled directly from The Colbert Report — that the world isn't black and white, no matter how much we want it to be. There is no real truth. That means we as individuals need to create our own standards and decide what is right for us:
People my age will sometimes say to you, “Hey, that work you did, that thing you said, that cause you championed – it's not good." Well, having your own standards will help you weather moments like that. Having your own standards allows you to perceive success where others may see failure.
500 points to the CBSN live caption person who put this Mad Max-inspired quote on screen. (via CBSN on YouTube)
Colbert continued on to skewer the graduation speech trope of "a famous inventor with a crazy dream" (unfortunately, he didn't also parody graduation speakers who just read Dr. Seuss's Oh, The Places You'll Go from beginning to end — seriously, everyone, you need to stop that):
I'm reminded of one famous inventor who was ridiculed for his dream. But flash forward 15 years to the day. And do we or do we not now all ride Segways to work? We do not, but they are featured prominently in the movie Paul Blart: Mall Cop. That's good, too.
Blart-based humor aside, Colbert also underlined the importance of treating ourselves with kindness when we fail — because we all will. Seriously, all of us. You might even be failing right now as you read this blog post!
Of course, any standards worth having will be a challenge to meet. And most of the time, you will fall short. But what is nice about having your own set of standards is that from now on, you fill out your own report card. So do yourself a favor: be an easy grader. Score yourself on a curve. Give yourself extra credit. You have the power. You are your own professor now. Which I know is a little creepy, because that means you're showering with your professor. But you have tenure. They can't fire you.
You can read the entire speech on Time.com, or watch the video of it below: