File this under “Top 10 Strangest Moments in Biola History.”
On June 28, comedian David Letterman gave viewers a “huh?” moment when he opened his Late Show monologue by announcing that he’d just received a degree from — where else? — Biola University.
“Do you still get mail, or is it all email with you people?” he asked the audience. “Anybody get any mail? I opened my mail this morning, and — guess what — I’ve received an honorary degree in sociology from Biola University!”
And he didn’t stop there. Letterman went on to mention Biola several times throughout the broadcast, and even spent a couple of minutes reading facts from Biola’s Wikipedia page. (Of course, it was all a gag. Letterman has never set foot on Biola’s campus, as far as we know.)
So, why the out-of-the-blue attention? As it turns out, sociology professor Brad Christerson was in the audience for the taping that day, and had a chance to ask Letterman a question before the show. When Letterman asked Christerson where he worked, the host got a kick out of Biola’s name, being unfamiliar with it. (We can forgive him; he doesn’t exactly run in Biola’s circles.)
Read the full transcript here:
The show begins with an opening monologue.
David Letterman: Do you still get mail, or is it all email with you people? Anybody get any mail? I opened my mail this morning, and — guess what — I’ve received an honorary degree in sociology from Biola University!* (The camera cuts to a laughing professor Brad Christerson in the audience.)
Letterman: This is an important time for a guy running for president. Mitt Romney now has to select a running mate, the vice president. And as we know, that can make or break a ticket. I mean, it’s very important geographically and politically and ideologically — it’s very important to get the right running mate. (Audience laughter.) What’d I say?
Paul Shaffer: You said everything right.
Letterman: Did I say something? I don’t know … This is like every class I ever took at Biola University! (The camera cuts to Christerson.)
After a commercial, a seated Letterman begins reading from a sheet of paper.
Letterman: Biola University was founded in 1908 — I knew this was a deal: B-I-O-L-A stands for Bible Institute of Los Angeles — in Whittier.** Notable attendees and alumni: major league baseball player Tim Worrell. Please hold your applause until I’ve mentioned every …
Shaffer: Oh, we are. We are.
Letterman: Major league baseball player Todd Worrell.
Shaffer: Oh, [his] brother.
Letterman: He was an all star?
Off camera: Yeah.
Letterman: Who’d you like better: Tim or Todd?
Off camera: Todd.
Letterman: Todd. … Princess of Swaziland Sikhanyiso Dlamini. … And that guy in the audience right over there.*** (The camera cuts to Christerson.)
The faux “Weekend Late Show” co-hosts give a preview their next show.
Bruce: … All that, plus squatter’s rights, making your own shaving cream, and what ever happened to badminton? Saturday on the Weekend Late Show.
Linda: Back to you, Dave.
Letterman: What ever happened to Biola? What ever happened to Biola?
Letterman finishes reading the night’s Top 10 list.
Letterman: I wish I had more facts to read about obscure colleges of the United States. That was fun!
Shaffer: I enjoyed it very much.
Letterman: Have you ever heard of Biola?
Shaffer: No … well, I have!
Letterman: No you haven’t. Where did you hear of Biola?
Shaffer: I’ve heard of Lou Viola, the agent.
Letterman: See, that’s my point. It sounds like he’s mispronouncing it. But it’s Bi-ol-a. (The camera cuts to Christerson.) All right, we’ll be right back.
* Yes, he’s joking.
** Actually, Biola was founded in Los Angeles and moved to La Mirada in 1959. But we do love Whittier.
*** Christerson is a longtime professor, but not an alumnus.