Comedian Stephen Colbert Advises Graduates on Service
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During a commencement address at his alma mater, Northwestern University, the comedian Stephen Colbert offered some wise words for life:
After I graduated from [Northwestern], I moved to Chicago and did improv. Now there are very few rules about improvisation, but one of the things I was taught early on is that you are not the most important person in the scene. Everybody else is. And if they are the most important people in the scene, you will naturally pay attention to them and serve them. But the good news is you're in the scene too. So hopefully to them you're the most important person, and they will serve you. No one is leading; you're all following the follower, serving the servant. You cannot win improv.
And life is an improvisation. You have no idea what's going to happen next and you are mostly just making things up as you go along. And like improv, you cannot "win" your life …. I have my own show, which [is] full of very talented people ready to serve me …. But at my best, I am serving them just as hard, and together, we serve a common idea …. And a sure sign that things are going well is when no one can really remember whose idea was whose, or who should get the credit for what jokes.