Scripps College celebrates commencement with alumnus Brian Unger
JUNE 14, 2006 – Alumnus Brian Unger, B.S.C. '87, provided a witty yet insightful commencement address during the morning ceremony. Unger's outstanding achievements as a nationally recognized political satirist, writer, actor and television producer earned the native of Granville, Ohio, an Honorary Doctor of Communication degree, which he was given before his speech.
“I was floored when I heard about this honor,” Unger said at the College's reception. “I felt as if I had been punk'd,” he said in reference to an MTV celebrity hidden camera show called Punk'd.
Unger's satirical reports on culture and politics are featured each week on National Public Radio's “Day to Day.” He currently appears in “Bushisms” and hosts the Fox TV Network's “World's Craziest Videos.”
In his commencement speech, Unger encouraged the new graduates to be funny in life but to say something meaningful and thoughtful.
“Beneath the laughs, we're taking a stab at the truth,” he said. “The truth goes down more easily. The truth can entertain us and hurt us. We know we can't laugh all the time, but comedy forces you to be informed.”
Unger also mentioned how delighted he was to be back in his native Ohio .
“Actually, I'm really here to make sure my social security number is safe,” he said, as the crowd burst into laughter. Jokingly, he said, “I think this is where they take back the degree.”
The nicest thing about being back in Ohio, he continued, was to experience a characteristic unique to Ohioans. He called it “Ohioness.” He said those from Ohio have curiosity, tolerance and openness, qualities students should take with them into their desired professions.
Quinn Bowman, one of this year's journalism graduates, said he enjoyed Unger's speech. The Columbus native especially liked Unger's recognition of “Ohioness.”
“He was hilarious, original and serious,” he said. “I've done a lot of traveling myself, and I understand what he means about 'Ohioness.' It's a real asset we can take with us.”
Roger Cooper, director of the School of Telecommunications, said he was very pleased with the student reaction to Unger's speech.
“Brian is a great representative for the College and the School of Telecommunications,” he said. “After the ceremony, I overheard students saying how he really spoke to them. That was very heartening to hear that he gave a speech I think the students will remember. It was very unique and memorable. We all anticipated something special from him because of his sense of humor, and he met and exceeded those expectations."
Unger's broadcast career began at WOUB, where he worked while attending Ohio University . He then left for New York City , where he worked as an NBC intern for David Letterman. Since then, his career and accomplishments have taken him to different networks in various roles.
Unger joined the team that launched Comedy Central's award-winning “The Daily Show.” His work as a correspondent and producer for the series earned him the acclaim of TV Guide andThe New York Observer. Unger was listed as one of the “100 Most Creative People in Entertainment” by Entertainment Weekly in 1998.
He has appeared on “The Jimmy Kimmel Show” and “The Man Show,” and is also a frequent contributor to VH1 shows. Unger has hosted NBC's “Later,” E's “Talk Soup” and the newsmagazine “Extra.” He has guest-starred in series for NBC and ABC and has starred in two comedy pilots for Fox. The New York Times and The Washington Post have published his work.
“The education I received at Ohio University was invaluable,” Unger commented at the College's reception. “The experience is much bigger then just academics. The classes, of course, are great. My professional experiences at WOUB are irreplaceable. Plus, Athens provides a unique culture. It's a great place to go to college. I could not have come to a better place and would, of course, recommend it.”
- Arian Smedley and staff reports