SIU gives honorary degree to actor Bob Odenkirk
CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) — “Better Call Saul” star Bob Odenkirk has been designated with a honorary degree from his alma mater in southern Illinois.
Southern Illinois University’s Board of Trustees has confirmed the honorary Doctor of Performing Arts degree, The Southern Illinoisan reported. Odenkirk could be presented with the honor at the 2020 commencement ceremony.
“I’m very honored,” Odenkirk said. “I went to four different colleges, and SIU is the one that gave me the college experience that I needed.”
Odenkirk left the Carbondale university three credits short of graduation. He finished them from Chicago and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1984.
“It didn’t seem like staying would be worth it when I knew I wanted to try my hand in comedy in Chicago,” he said.
Odenkirk said his work load was not overwhelming, so it allowed him to get serious about comedy for the first time.
“I loved the weather, the people, the freedom I had,” he said. “I had the protective barrier of a university community to experiment: read, write, try things, perform.”
Odenkirk said he was driven and had a lot of free time to do homework and comedy.
His main comedy project was “The Prime Time Special,” a late-night sketch radio show he wrote, produced and often improvised, alongside other students. Odenkirk said they made short videos that would be shown on the closed cable system at the student center.
His student body of work is preserved on cassette tapes, but he has no interest in sharing them.
“It’s very sloppy comedy material and performances,” Odenkirk said. “I’m thankful that I had the place to do it and the encouragement and freedom to do the show, and the relatively small audience, because you’ve got to start somewhere, and start rough. But you don’t want all that to be kept.”
Odenkirk has not spoken directly to university officials about accepting his degree, but he expects conversations to pick up soon.
“The thing that will be challenging is if there’s a production happening and they can’t let me out,” he said. “I’m going to try to make it.”
Odenkirk plays the lead character in AMC’s “Better Call Saul,” a prequel spinoff of the television series “Breaking Bad.″