Photos of the actual show are my crappy point and shoot
Pretty photos of the crowd by Dakota, then Ben Droz
“I’m really happy you guys are here” Jon Stewart said during his sincere closing speech at the much anticipated Rally To Restore Sanity which overtook the mall this past Sat.
he then laughed “…even if none of us are quite sure why we are here.”
After 3 hours of music and comedy,we had a 15 min speech that was poignant, reasonable, and ok, also a little funny.
But let’s back up a little. The metro ride in was like downtown Tokyo during rush hour, only I guess a lot more white and smug. But to the rally’s credit with it’s message of sanity, everyone got along, made room, offered metro advice to each other, didn’t bitch, and made new friends. No really, I watched two strangers decide to hang out at the rally together. Let me rephrase: A white guy made plans to hang out with a brown guy who was wearing a crazy Uncle Sam costume on the metro, cause they both think that this Jewish guy on TV isn’t a lunatic.
Amy, Sepie and I picked up our super exclusive VIP passes, cause we’re better than you, and headed to the front of the stage. No big deal. Just kidding, we just got lucky and knew a guy that knew a guy and were freaking out and losing our cool and bragging to our friends. The monitors were playing a montage of all the Rally To Restore Sanity promo bits from the past couple weeks of the Daily Show and Colbert Report. People were laughing loudly because it was genuinely funny, and not to prove to those standing around them that they got the jokes. That was a good sign. That’s not to say there weren’t annoying people and crazy activists in the crowd that was estimated to be over 200,000, but for the most part everyone seemed, well, reasonable.
Did you read that? Over 200,000. Just for comparison, Glenn Beck brought in 87,000 for his Restoring Honor to Baby Jesus or whatever it was get together. Speaking of that little shindig, BYT’s own pregnant demon showed up, but sadly she “lost” the baby (aborted that shit, what, you want horns going down your birth canal?) and took up wrestling on the Mexican circuit. She’s still hungry tho:
The program started off with The Roots. I guess it was a good choice. I mean, they’re pretty much well liked by everyone, but after a couple songs I was ready to get to the funny… that is until John Legend came on, wearing a fabulous coat, to join them in a riveting rendition of Bill Withers’ I Can’t Write Left Handed, followed by Seed 2.0 with a Curtis Mayfield tease. Ok, these guys do know how to put on a show.
Did I mention I was in the front row? It was something I didn’t take for granted. Being a (very) long time (rabid) fan of Stewart and Colbert, this was definitely a life highlight. I mention this not so you can seethe with jealousy, but as a caveat that my experience may have differed from yours. You can’t really have a bad time when you’re in front of 200,000 people. Well, unless Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock are on stage, but more on that later.
I checked into Foursquare just in time to receive my epic swarm badge before the AT&T network was rendered useless from too many people checking into Foursquare. Next up the Mythbusters took the stage. As a card carrying member of the Skeptics society I’ve been a (very) long time (rabid) fan of Adam and Jamie, so this was definitely a life highlight. They did some fun crowd experiments involving waves and stomping and I was grinning so hard it hurt. Although hours later, once the cell networks came back online, I received a “mythbusters = lame” text from my sister. Oh well, guess you can’t please everyone.
The man of the hour appeared to introduce 4 Troops, a singing group of veterans, to National Anthem us. He then returned to talk to a shirtless Colbert via monitor from inside his “fear bunker” below the stage. Once Stewart assured him that people had actually showed up to the rally, Colbert emergedvia a Chilean miner tube wearing his Evil Kenevil jumpsuit. Thus started the recurring theme of the rally, Colbert’s message of fear to Stewart’s sanity.
These comedic bits between the frienemies were the highlights of the show, such as the epic moment where Colbert interrupted Stewart’s guest Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam during a performance of Peace Train to introduce Ozzy Osbourne, who countered with Crazy Train. Eventually they agreed that the O’Jays could do Love Train, cause Colbert can still be afraid of STDs. This brilliant moment was even a surprise to those of us who had checked out the leaked schedule on Gawker. At that point the sun started shining and the temp increased about 10 degrees and it ended up being a perfect day.
Other surprise appearances by Father Guido Sarducci, Kareem Abdul Jabar, Sam Waterston, and R2D2 were amusing. Awards were given out to reasonableness (the woman that grilled Obama respectfully at that town hall debate) and fear (a 7 year old girl who was less afraid than NPR cause she showed up to the rally). Things were kept classy with a duet by Mavis Staples and Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, and Tony Bennet nailing America, The Beautiful.
The only real sore point in the entire program was the ridiculously trite duet with Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow. It felt like they were thrown into the mix just so the event couldn’t be knocked for being too hipster elitist (more so than it already would be). But that was sort of the point I guess. To play it safe. The rally really wasn’t a political event. Liberals were made fun of as much (if not more than) conservatives. There weren’t any politicians on stage. We weren’t told to vote. While there were plenty of nut jobs walking around, the majority of costumes and signs I saw were light-hearted. When Stewart finally got serious for his impassioned speech, it basically boiled down to this:
Chill out, it’s not the end of the world. Most of us are sane and work together every day to get stuff done. The 24 hour news media is a crock of shit. Be hopeful, make compromises, and act reasonably. And most importantly, don’t leave trash on the mall.
I got a little teary at the end of the speech. And so did Jon. You should watch it.
Finally everyone came back on stage for a group rendition of I’ll Take You There. It’s gonna be hard for Fox News to paint this rally as a failure, but I’m sure they’ll find a way.
Some more great crowd photos by Dakota:
And Ben Droz: