Photos by Tom Conally
Jeanne Robertson goes around the country preaching to
thousands every year that they should
look for the humor in every
situation. And she practices what she preaches.
Take last week’s graduation at Elon University. You know, with more than
900 graduates getting
diplomas. Where’s the humor in that?
There was plenty. Jeanne, you see, was a replacement speaker. The Crown
Prince of Jordan
was scheduled, but at the last minute, he canceled. No
problem. Elon has one of the nation’s
most popular — and successful —
public speakers on its board of trustees — Jeanne. She accepted
invitation to sub for the prince.
She was excited. So much so that she went on the Internet and did a
search, typing in her name,
Elon and graduation. Much to her surprise
there appeared a blog written by an Elon senior. She said
was "What were they thinking!" "Is this the best we can do?" Comments
choice to going from the president of the United States to
the mayor of Burlington. The writer was
just not happy with the choice.
Jeanne didn’t react until graduation day. It’s tradition that President
Leo Lambert and the speaker
meet graduates in the gym before the
ceremony. After Dr. Lambert made his remarks, Jeanne had
her turn. She
made the writer of the blog stand up. Travis Lusk was reluctant at
first, putting up his
hand. Other students made him stand. Jeanne said
she did this because "I wanted the people around
Travis in line to
remind him right after he went on stage that he should walk toward the
edge. I’m not
above sticking my foot out and tripping a graduate."
Then she gave the mike back to Dr. Lambert and walked in front of the
group looking for Travis.
The place erupted. Travis stood again and
climbed over an entire row and he and Jeanne met in
the aisle — with a
In the middle of Jeanne’s speech at graduation, a train came by. She had
to stop. So she pulled
out a camera and shot pictures of the crowd. She
said, "Maybe we can put these pictures on Travis
Lusk’s Web site." That
might have been her biggest laugh.
When Travis came by to get his diploma, she did not trip him. Instead he
pointed to her and said
"I love you Jeanne," as he passed.
Later, there was a new message on his Web site, which by the way, is a
very good one, and the
headline read "I stand corrected … I love you
Jeanne." He told about his blog remarks and being called
out by Jeanne
in front of 1,000 people. Was he upset by that? No way. "It was all in
And then he added, "Jeanne, I STAND CORRECTED. You were way more
entertaining than the prince
ever would have been. You were definitely
everything you were slated to be. By far you were definitely
the Prince. We really did get the Queen!"
And everyone had a good laugh. Oh, those pictures Jeanne shot at
graduation? She did not know
how to work the camera too well, and every
shot was exposed over another, making one blank, brown
Reprinted with permission of the Times-News.
Don Bolden is editor emeritus of the Times-News. His column appears each
Write to Don Bolden at