Colbert/Stewart Evoke Sanity/Fear

Reporter’s account on Restoring Sanity and/or Fear Rally

Photo Alex Jorgensen
Photo Alex Jorgensen
Photo Alex Jorgensen

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert came together for a rally, dubbed the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or The Rally to Keep Fear Alive, on Oct. 30, but that’s not where the story lies.

Fans of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report prompted Stewart and Colbert to offer a rebuttal against Fox News political pundit Glenn Beck’s Restoring Honor rally through the internet. Beck had urged the American population to restore their faith in their Christian roots.

A member of the website Reddit deserves much of the credit for the initiation of the rally. He wrote, “Colbert needs to hold a satirical rally in DC […] Think about it. It’ll be just like Colbert’s mockery of GW Bush at the 2006 White House Correspondent’s Dinner, but 500,000 people will be able to participate with him. We’ll all stay totally in character as tea-baggers. The kid with the microphone that interviews all the idiots at these things can come by and we’ll ramble into his microphone.”

They could have ignored the pleas of their fans, thanked them and refused, but no, they took charge of an Internet mob—one that stands for honesty in the media.

It was hard to avoid questioning if the whole thing was a simple publicity stunt to grow ratings, or to organize fans and have a great time with the followers of both shows.

First-Hand Account

The National Mall in Washington, D.C. was packed. A half million people crammed in like sardines to catch a glimpse of one of the many acts, including Ozzy Osbourne and The Roots, but I saw and heard nothing. I was standing four blocks away from the stage, but it didn’t matter.

We quickly gave up on the idea of being entertained by the performances and went ahead and created our own fun. Rally signs saying, “Use Your Indoor Voice,” “Black Marker, White Paper,” “Hug a Redditor,” and “I am Arab, Fear Me” were some of our own creations.

This rally was about gathering with people to share their frustration with media, politics and just about anything you could be frustrated about through an extreme amount of irony and hilarity.

The rally came down to being less about the famed individuals and all about the shared ideals of the everyman. As much as seeing Colbert and Stewart joke around would have been great, my time was better spent making strangers smile.

More at Jamie Klinger’s blog.

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 12, published November 2, 2010.