Comedian Jordan Klepper surprises Kalamazoo College graduates

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Graduates attending Kalamazoo College’s virtual Conferral of Degrees ceremony got a surprise from a famous K College alum.  

Comedian Jordan Klepper graduated from Kalamazoo College in 2001 with degrees in math and theater.  

Klepper went on to perform at The Second City in Chicago and Upright Citizens Brigade in New York City before landing a spot on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” in 2014. Klepper got his own show on Comedy Central in 2017 with “The Opposition with Jordan Klepper” followed by the prime-time weekly talk show “Klepper” in 2019.

In a prerecorded message, Klepper congratulated graduates on their “graduation from K” and their “new profession watching Netflix from your family’s house.” He went on to talk about how graduation speakers typically use their time to impart wisdom and quote great thinkers. Klepper chose to quote “the esteemed Royal Princess Leia.” 

“She said, ‘Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.’ Beautiful,” Klepper said to the graduates.

“You need to help us! The world is on fire,” Klepper said explaining why he chose the Princess Leia quote.

Klepper expanded on his “Star Wars” quote saying the graduates are “our Obi-Wan. Dressed in a robe with knowledge as a weapon. We are desperate holograms from a planet in turmoil.”  

Klepper pointed to current events.

“Systemic issues with race and class are bubbling to the surface and they are being met with photo ops and an attempt to shift the narrative. So, I repeat, help us, Obi-Wan Kenobi’s. You’re our only hope,” Klepper said.

He continued telling graduates it’s “weird” this important milestone is being crossed in their parents basements.

“The only milestones that should be crossed in parents’ basements are getting first kisses and getting to the final level in Super Mario 3. At least that was my experience in my late 20s,” Klepper said.

As he wrapped up his nearly four minute message, Klepper told graduates they now have “skin in the game.” He challenged the graduates to change the norm. 

“What the power brokers don’t have is the energy and the new ideas. Those are  yours. The old ideas they are clinging to affect the tomorrow you inherit. Don’t let them.” 

Klepper ended his speech by telling graduates they are needed right now. 

“Know yourself and evaluate what you can offer. Find others to help amplify your voice and help us fix the Death Star, or blow it up, or rebuild Tatooine. Frankly, the whole lineage is confusing to me,” Klepper said.  

Sunday’s Conferral of Degrees at Kalamazoo College included 331 students from 23 states and 10 countries. The ceremony was held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Klepper’s message can be found on Kalamazoo College’s Youtube page.