We've seen a lot of celebrity commencement speeches on YouTube this year at The Atlantic Wire: from Conan O'Brien's bleak wisdom for undergrads to Amy Poehler's hand-holding advice at Harvard to Time's Richard Stengel's monologue about the wrong Ann Curry. But Stephen Colbert's address at Northwestern University (his own almamater) has to rank at the top in the "earnest, but still pretty funny" speaker tier. And his life as theater improv comparison (17:00 in video) hit home particularly well ("you cannot 'win' improv").
It certainly helps that the Comedy Central host was familiar with Northwestern terrain: he jokes about partying on Dillo Day, references his own 1986 class graduation in which he didn't exactly graduate on time, and even managed to get in a long quip about the school's outrage-inducing live sex class. Although we think his single greatest oratory feat during his speech was his impressive tongue-twisting theater workshop exercise (6:50):