On Oct. 30 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., two of late night’s favorite satirists hosted a Rally to Restore Sanity And/Or Fear. Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and Stephen Colbert of “The Colbert Report” held their rally in what ostensibly was a response to Glenn Beck’s Rally to Restore Honor on August 28.
Though the estimates on the number of attendees vary, CBS News approximates it around 215,000.
After the band The Roots joined by singer John Legend opened for the pre-show, the Mythbusters, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, warmed up the crowd with a series of “experiments” involving creating a giant wave, conducting a “symphony” of sounds, and recording “20 million pounds of meat” jumping on a seismograph.
Finally the rally began, with Stewart asking comic Don Novello as Father Guido Sarducci to perform the rally’s benediction, and actor Sam Waterson reading Colbert’s fearful poem entitled, “Are You Sure?”
Following that were performances by a range of musical artists including Yusef Islam (formerly Cat Stevens), Ozzy Osbourne, the O’Jays, Kid Rock, Sheryl Crow, Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, Mavis Staples, and Tony Bennett.
Interspersed through the event were reminders of the meaning and intention of the rally. Steward awarded “Medals of Reasonableness” and Colbert bestowed medals of fear, or “Fear-ys” as he called them.
Among the recipients of Stewart’s award were Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga, who was one out away from a perfect game before the umpire blew the call; Velma Hart, who asked President Obama a challenging but calm question during a Town Hall meeting; professional wrestler Mick Foley; and Jacob Isom, who took a kerosene-covered Quran from the hands of an evangelist who was intending to burn it.
The Fear-ys went to the media organizations who wouldn’t allow their employees to attend the rally for recreational purposes, Anderson Cooper’s tight black t-shirt, and Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook.
Notoriously insane acts were also apologized for in prerecorded messages. Steven Slater, the flight attendant who exploded at customers on a Jet Blue Flight apologized for his actions as did Real Housewives of New Jersey star Teresa Guidice.
Because of the large crowd, those who were in the back were often unable to see or hear anything; in general, though, attendee reaction was positive. “I think that quite possibly the best thing about America was represented,” said first-year Bryan Rudin, “in that over 200,000 people showed up, many of whom [were] fully convinced that their main contribution was to show that they don’t actually care.”