Sitting through graduation speeches is usually a drag — especially when you’re cloaked in dark robes and braving extra humid, swamp-like conditions. So it’s a blessing when someone like Stephen Colbert, an expert entertainer, shows up to give an especially engaging commencement address.
The Comedy Central personality addressed the 2013 graduates of the University of Virginia Saturday, balancing his signature snark and wit with a dash of earnest wisdom and advice. He began by requesting that everyone in the audience first take out their cell phones and make sure they were following his Twitter feed, just in case he tweeted anything during the speech. He kept up the technology theme, later referring to the graduates’ habits of “tweeting your Vines, hashtagging your Spotifies, and snapchatting your YOLOs.” He then held up TIME’s recent millennials issue and explained, “Your generation needs everything to be about you and that’s very upsetting to us Baby Boomers because self-absorption is kind of our thing.”
Colbert discussed UVA’s prestige and high rankings, making sure to emphasize its status as Playboy‘s top party school in America. (Although he clarified: “I only read Playboy for the rankings.”) But the comedian also acknowledged the university’s reputation not just for partying, but for academic excellence. “Since this is a smart school,” he said, “let me just toss in some SAT words: syzygy, heterodox, Benedict Cumberbatch.”
And, because UVA is known as Mr. Jefferson’s University (since the third president on the United States also founded the publicly-funded school in 1819), Colbert slipped in some TJ jokes: “If anyone can do this, it is the graduates of the university that Jefferson founded. You are his intellectual heirs. In fact, some of you may be his actual heirs – we’re still testing the DNA.”
Towards the end of his speech, Colbert briefly waxed philosophical. “Every generation must define itself,” he said. “So if you must find your own path, and we have left you no easy path, then decide now to choose the hard path that leads to the life and the world that you want.” He added, “And don’t worry if we don’t approve of your choices … You do not owe the previous generation anything. Thanks to us, you owe it to the Chinese.”
Watch the full address above.