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How Many Stephen Colberts Are There?

The New York Times Magazine profiles celebrity alumnus

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Check out the feature on Stephen Colbert, the popular Northwestern alumnus who keeps the nation in hysterics nightly as the outrageous political pundit on Comedy Central’s  “The Colbert Report.” 

On Sunday, Colbert -- who delighted Northwestern’s Class of 2011 with a Commencement address like no other in the University’s history -- will be featured in The New York Times Magazine.

One of the School of Communication’s best-known graduates, Colbert even has been the subject (sort of) of a freshman seminar titled “Truth, Truthiness and the Media.” The course wasn’t about Colbert per se, but “truthiness” -- a Colbert-coined term chosen as “word of the year” by the American Dialect in 2005 -- was mentioned often in the freshman seminar.

“Colbert arrived (in video) on the first day of class when I showed my students the famous ‘truthiness’ segment from his first show,” said School of Communications associate dean D. Charles Whitney, who taught the class in 2010. “And he kept popping up in our discussions throughout the quarter.”

Colbert once told his mock news audience, “Anyone can read the news. I promise to feel the news at you.” At the 2011 Commencement, he captivated his soon-to-be fellow alums from the moment he started bouncing down the aisle during the opening procession. 

With strong ties to Northwestern, Colbert is a member of the School of Communication National Advisory Council (which meets yearly on campus). He also has met with Northwestern students as a guest artist in the MFA Writing for the Screen and Stage Program.

The New York Times Magazine article titled "How Many Stephen Colberts Are There?" is available at

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