The man who gave the world the word
and inspired a Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavor had words not of encouragement, but discouragement for Princeton grads:
"You can change the world," said Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert. "Please don't do that. OK? Some of us like the way things are going now."
And instead of telling the graduates to conquer their fears, he admitted his. "I'm a little scared of you," he said. "I'm frightened of your potential. I can tell you people out there are go-getters."
Colbert, star of Comedy Central's The Colbert Report, was the latest in a string of famous comedians invited to speechify at Princeton's Class Day, the day before yesterday's graduation exercises.
OK, "rib-tickling" didn't exactly apply to the last two invitees - actor Bradley Whitford (The West Wing) and Bill Clinton - but before that appeared the likes of Chevy Chase, Jon Stewart, Jerry Seinfeld, and Bill Cosby.
The brow-arching Colbert, who started on The Daily Show when Craig Kilborn was the host, has ridden his mock conservative spoofiness to such popularity and prestige that his guests include presidential candidates and his book I Am America (And So Can You!) became a best-seller.
"Personally, things are going are great for me right now," he told the crowd Monday morning, after insulting the students' "hideous jackets." "As a middle-aged white Christian male, the world outside fits me like a glove. I am doing just fine, Jack, and I would be very grateful if you had the courtesy not to mess with it."
He told students they were like the Andromeda Strain: "You people are like a virus, soon to be unleashed upon the world with your unstoppable drive and your infectious enthusiasm, and you will reproduce! I'm fairly sure you know how to do that by now."
Colbert, inspiration for Ben & Jerry's AmeriCone Dream, continued dousing dreams. "You know that song, 'We are the world. We are the children?' " he said. "That is a lie. We are the world, we adults. On behalf of adults, I am begging you to leave the world alone. We have worked long and hard to make things comfortable for ourselves. And we don't appreciate it when some new generation comes along and starts touching all our stuff."
He poo-pooed such world-changers as Gandhi and Al Gore, but did laud the legacy of one Princeton graduate, Aaron Burr. "He certainly changed the vice presidency," Colbert said. "After him, it was acceptable for someone for the the VP to shoot someone in the face."
Don't try to be a savior, Colbert told the last class to graduate under President Bush.
Jesus, who "only took the job to please his Dad," said that to be a savior "you had to take up your cross and follow him," Colbert said. "Well, to me, it's easier to take up your remote control and follow me."
A fitting remark, since Colbert was also presented with "The Great Princeton Class of 2008 Understandable Vanity Award" - on a mirror.