I’m sure one could guess that this “rally” was indeed different from the rest right when it was announced: Jon Stewart called for reasonableness in politics in a new way (aside from his usual mockery of pundits on The Daily Show) and Stephen Colbert, in full character, responded with a satirical counter-protest to stay afraid of what they want you to worry about. With the crowd estimated at 215,00 (and some placing that number even higher), the call was heeded! (A click of the link above will show you an aerial view of part of the crowd.) But if you’re wondering if there was a serious message among the laughs, there certainly was. Just in case you couldn’t attend – or, in the case of some, you could, but you couldn’t see or hear anything because there were just too many people – here is a recap.
So yeah, that Mall was packed. Needless to say, the Metro was a complete mess. We miraculously found a spot just a couple blocks back from the stage with two giant screens conveniently nearby. People were wearing hilarious costumes, everything from pink unicorn suits to a whole family of Super Mario Bros. characters. Some even dressed as bears or carried bear signs (as one of the running gags on The Colbert Report is Stephen’s supposed fear of bears). The signs people made were AWESOME. See 100 cool signs here. Although certain pundits have tried to say that the rally was geared toward liberals, this was definitely not the case with a good showing from both – and the goal being a message that everyone should relate to. I’ll let Jon Stewart himself tell you what his intentions were in just a moment.
What happened at the rally (perhaps slightly out of order):
-The Roots appeared first, playing a few songs. They’d be the “official band” for the rest of the rally. Then John Legend came out and did a couple songs with them.
-Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman from Discovery Channel’s “MythBusters” came out to start the audience off. They had us do the wave, even doing timed wave tests, and a whole lot of noisemaking in general. (It took about 55 seconds for one wave to go all the way from the Capitol to the Washington Monument)
-4Troops performed the National Anthem.
-Jon Stewart came out to the familiar Daily Show intro to great pandemonium.
-As he spoke, we suddenly heard Stephen Colbert’s voice calling out. An image of Stephen in a “fear bunker” appeared on the screens with him telling Jon he was too full of fear that no one had showed up. Jon had everyone yell extra loud, and Stephen rose through a hole in the stage in a capsule (think: Chilean mine rescue) to his own theme music. He emerged from the capsule waving the Chilean flag and dressed like Evel Knievel. He and Jon spent the rest of the rally verbally sparring, Jon representing the voice of reason while Stephen went into full character as the evil fear-monger, pretending to spread terror about everything from killer bees to racist tea partiers to socialist liberals.
-Jon said that he wanted to start the rally “in a traditional way…” and Colbert squealed, “Ooooh, a book burning!” to much laughter. Actor Don Novello came out as the persona he made famous on Saturday Night Live, Father Guido Sarducci. I think most of the people around us didn’t realize who that was and thought it was a real reverend. I thought it might be an actor, but I won’t lie; I was confused and had to ask Eric. Ha ha! Father Sarducci gave the benediction, asked God to save us parking spaces, and then asked God to show us which religion out of all those represented in the audience might be the right one, by putting a halo around the head of someone who believed that it was. God was all, “Nice try.”
-Some video montages were shown here and there of various pundits and 24-7 news channels showing us everything they think we need to be terrified of: Muslims, Christians, Republicans, Democrats, germs, flip-flops, etc. It was quite hilarious, with one news anchor saying that we need to be afraid of both too little sleep and too much sleep in the same sentence. This is what I love about The Daily Show. There is so much of this b.s. that it’s easy to call it out and then just have a good laugh rather than watch the talking heads that perpetuate this in the first place.
-Stephen Colbert announced he had a poem to read. And do you know who came out to read it for him? Sam Waterston from the original (and now cancelled :() Law & Order! The crowd went crazy! Okay, maybe that was just me! Listen to Sam read the poem here!
-Jon came back out and introduced – get this – (the former) CAT STEVENS (Yusuf Islam)! Yusuf launched into “Peace Train” until Stephen interrupted him, yelling that he refused to get on the peace train. Stephen told Jon and Yusuf he had a better train to get on. OZZY OSBOURNE ran out on the stage singing “Crazy Train” (with the Roots playing it)! Yusuf and Ozzy went back and forth in the “Train Battle” until a truce was called – and the O’Jays came out and performed “Love Train”. A giant pink heart throbbed on the screens as everyone grooved around.
-Video clips appeared of former JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater, who you might remember quitting in a memorable fashion, and some reality star (okay okay, it was Teresa Giudice from The Real Housewives of New Jersey – yes, I had to look that up) apologizing for their respective bad behavior. They looked so very sorry as they gave their scripted statements, hehe.
-Jon announced he was going to have an awards ceremony, presenting four winners with a bronze “Medal of Reasonableness”. Stephen retorted that he had bronze “Medals of Fear” to award, and HIS medals were decorated with a naked man running with scissors and a warning: “May Contain Cadmium.” The winners were:
- Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga for his reaction after an umpire’s terrible call cost him a perfect game. Armando stayed amazingly calm in a game well known for hot tempers, and even shook hands with the umpire later.
- Wrestler/actor Mick Foley for standing up for kids who are bullied, including those harassed for being gay.
- Concerned citizen Velma Hart for speaking in a critical, yet calm manner to President Obama at a town hall event.
- And the last award went to Jacob Isom for saving a Quran from being burned by a group of disrespectful fools. Jacob was made famous in a local news interview as the “Dude, you have no Quran!” guy. An energetic Jacob threw his medal into the crowd for his fans to grab. Watch the original footage that won Jacob his medal here.
- The news media outlets that wouldn’t allow their employees to attend the rally on their own time because they might look biased! Since obviously none of them could appear to accept the award, Colbert gave the award to someone with more courage: “a 7-year-old girl.” Hehe
- Anderson Cooper’s tight black T-shirt! The shirt came out on a hanger to accept the award, haha. The joke was that Anderson always has the shirt on when he reports on natural disasters and other things deserving of fear. You know what? I have an Anderson Cooper bookmark in which he appears walking around in his tight black T-shirt!
- Facebook founder and CEO (and 25-year-old self-made billionaire) Mark Zuckerberg for inspiring a new kind of fear – that of having your past and privacy totally exposed when you (choose to) use Facebook. Hahaha
(There wasn’t a fourth fear medal.)
-Special performances included Mavis Staples and Jeff Tweedy of Wilco in a duet. Kid Rock (devout Republican) and Sheryl Crow (noted Democrat) debuted their new duet “The Least That I Can Do Is Care” (watch it here). And best of all, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert both came out wearing matching American flag pullovers, arguing about who was more American, and wound up singing the most hilarious song together. (The sweaters were funny enough … I about died when I saw that.) Jon Stewart laughed so hard he could barely get the words out. Watch the performance here: “The Greatest, Strongest Country in the World”.
-Jon came out to the stage to give a keynote address, at which point a clip of him from 1998 horror movie The Faculty played on the screen. Ha ha ha! It is seriously hilarious to look at that today! Stephen interrupted Jon again, saying he wanted a debate. So an extra podium was brought out. At one point, during a discussion on whether or not we should really be scared of Muslims, Jon mentioned Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as an example of a typical American Muslim … and then Kareem just casually strolled out onto the stage. And I know I don’t have to say this, but yes, he TOWERED over the podiums and both Stephen and Jon. Mollified about Muslims, Stephen then switched to a showdown over a fear of “robots” with Jon bringing out adorable little R2-D2 to show that not all robots are scary. 🙂
-Stephen unleashed his giant papier-mache “Fearzilla” puppet which was eventually deflated by a Jon-lead chant from the crowd.
-Jon gave a final speech explaining what he really wanted the rally to be about. I was going to put the full text here, but you know what? You should just watch it. There are some tongue-in-cheek laughs in there too, but the message is clear. Watch it here now
-The rally closed with Tony Bennett singing a lovely version of “America the Beautiful”.
And wow. Anyone watch The Colbert Report tonight and see the full aerial photo taken from space showing the massive turnout? DA-YAAAAAAAAM
Happy All Saints Day!