In a move that has excited much of student body, Knox College announced that the 2013 commencement speaker will be actor and comedian Ed Helms.
Helms is best known for his role as Dr. Stu Price, a dentist who experiences a disastrous weekend with his friends, in the film “The Hangover.” Other major parts he has played include workplace irritant Andy Bernard on the popular TV show “The Office” and naïve insurance salesman Tim Lippe in lead role of 2011’s “Cedar Rapids.”
“Mr. Helms is an iconic figure for this generation of students,” President Teresa Amott said in an email to campus announcing the news, referring to the popularity of these and other roles Helms has played.
He was also a longtime correspondent for “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” making him the second Daily Show veteran to be a commencement speaker at Knox after Stephen Colbert gave the address in 2006. Helms also does occasional voiceover work for Colbert’s current show, “The Colbert Report.”
“As a graduate of a liberal arts college, he brings with him an appreciation of the student experience one finds at colleges like Knox,” said Amott.
Initially from Atlanta, Helms is a graduate of Oberlin College in Ohio, another Midwestern liberal arts school. He began his time at Oberlin as a geology major but later switched to studying film studies and technology. Asked about the change later, he cited concern about having to use his geology degree to work for companies with whose environmental policies he disagreed.
A semester as an exchange student at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts helped to direct him towards work in entertainment. He was doing editing and voiceover work in New York when he went to an open audition for The Daily Show. The role he landed as a result of that audition launched his career as an actor.
Current work includes a third “Hangover” installment and a “National Lampoon’s Vacation” spinoff where he will play Rusty Griswald, now an adult leading his own family on a disastrous quest for family fun. He also has a long-brewing pet project involving a time-traveling Civil War re-enactor.
Helms has won three awards of the eight for which he has been nominated. For his role as Andy Bernard on the office, Helms shares a Screen Actors Guild award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series.
Helms is also known to be a talented banjo and bluegrass guitar player. Together with two college friends, he plays occasional shows in a band called The Lonesome Trio. He also has a love of a cappella music, a trait which he shares with his character on “The Office.”
Helms’s uncle is Knox College trustee Dan Martin ’61. Martin helped to secure his nephew for this year’s commencement.
Commencement will be held on June 8 and is open to all students who wish to attend.