Stewart, Colbert rally draws big names, high attendance

Stewart, Colbert rally draws big names, high attendance

A crowd of approximately 215,000 attended the Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear in Washington at noon on Saturday, according to a crowd estimate commissioned by CBS News.

Comedy Central originally stated the permit for the rally was for 60,000 – though they had ordered port-a-potties for 150,000.

Many stood shoulder to shoulder in the National Mall, waiting for the rally that would blend political comedy and music for the massive audience, which included many from out-of-state, Washington locals and of course a smaller group from Richmond and VCU.

“I was impressed of how many people were there and the variety of different signs,” Haley Elkin, a senior psychology major, said. “The Roots’ playing was amazing, and I liked the song that Colbert and Stewart wrote and sang together. Jon Stewart’s terrible singing voice was definitely my favorite part.”

Many in attendance dressed up (in costumes from a robot to Lady Liberty), canvassed for different organizations and came with their witty signs in hand.

With the November elections up and coming, the celebrity comedians had plenty to say – commenting on key political figures, issues and media coverage.

“The press is our immune system,” Stewart said. “If it overreacts to everything, we get sicker.”

The rally was also heavy in musical performances, which included Cat Stevens, Ozzy Osbourne, John Legend, The Roots, Mavis Staples, Jeff Tweedy, Kid Rock, Sheryl Crow and a green screen appearance by T.I. and the O’Jays. Former NBA player, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Star Wars droid R2-D2 also attended.

Amid the string of crowd-pleasing musicians, Stewart and Colbert had a sanity/fear showdown. They battled for their rally themes through a series of video montages – Stewart was named the winner after the crowd aided in his victory by chanting in support of him.

The two comedians also gave awards for rationality and fear.

The day was generally described as positive, and while there were a couple counter-protesters present, they were few and far between – this was Stewart’s day.

“Everyone went and expected it to be this political thing, but it was really more about entertainment,” Grace Callow, a sophomore nursing major, said. “It was held in hopes that it would help the Democratic Party in the elections but I don’t think that was the point of it. If anything the point was to point a finger at the media. It was still awesome and a lot of fun, and people were really happy.”

He concluded with a serious-toned speech as the keynote speaker, in which he said Americans could make it through the often dramatized but unarguably difficult times together.

“We hear every damn day about how we work together to get things done every damn day,” Stewart said. “The only place we don’t is here (referring to the Capitol) or on cable TV.”

Stewart’s final comment was to thank the crowd for showing up.

“Sanity will always be in the eye of the beholder. To see you here today has restored mine. Thank you.”

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