“It’s not possible to rally for sanity, we’ve got to get jacked out about something. . I want [rally-goers] to be acting out of emotion when leaving,” Stephen Colbert said in an interview with student reporters, including a HOYA reporter, on Oct. 8.
Visitors to the National Mall this weekend will be asked to decide between fear and sanity at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, led by Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” and Stephen Colbert of “The Colbert Report.”
The rally, announced in September, was announced shortly after Glenn Beck’s rally in August, but Colbert denied a correlation.
“[Beck’s rally] was a religious festival. God is too soothing and calming,” Colbert said.
When plans for a satirical rally were first announced, Stewart and Colbert were to hold two competing rallies, Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity and Colbert’s March to Keep Fear Alive. On Oct. 15, however, Stewart and Colbert combined forces to form the joint rally.
The rally has grown exponentially in the weeks since the announcement. Over 1,000 meet-ups have been organized in 83 countries throughout the world, some hosting their own versions of the rallies for people unable to make it to the Mall and others organizing means of transportation to get ralliers from all over the world to D.C.
Oprah Winfrey and Huffington Post co-founder and editor Arianna Huffington have both endorsed the event; Winfrey is sending an audience of “The Daily Show” to the rally, hotel and airfare included, while Huffington is sending “HuffPost Buses” to D.C. that will leave from New York City.
Interest in the rally has become so great that Comedy Central announced it would stream the rally live on its website, and episodes of both “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” filmed in D.C.
The rally has proven popular with students both throughout the nation and at Georgetown.
“I feel like this is one of the first rallies that appeals to the college-aged population. Since the election, a lot of college political culture has centered around Stewart and Colbert’s programs – through humor and satire, they try to shed some truthful light on situations in government, and that’s something college kids really appreciate,” Andy Sugrue (COL ’12) said. “I’m really looking forward to this – it will be interesting to see who shows up on stage and endorses it, besides Oprah.”
While Americans prepare to restore sanity and fear on Saturday, D.C. is gearing up for an influx of visitors this weekend. Rally-themed events are occurring across the Metro area all weekend. The Washington Improv Theater will perform a comedy show Friday night taking political hits at both parties. On Saturday following the rallies, ” Daily Show” co-creator Lizz Winstead will perform a show in Arlington.
All weekend long, restaurants and shops throughout the city like Busboys and Poets and Madam’s Organ are offering food and drink specials and donating portions of their profits to DonorsChoose.org, Colbert’s choice of charity, to support public school classrooms and teachers across the country. One major post-rally party will occur at Eighteenth Street Lounge, where Bastard Jazz and percussionist Amon will perform and staffers of “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” will be offered reduced admission.
The National Mall is also preparing for the comedians and benefiting significantly from their appearance. “The Daily Show” is collecting donations on behalf of the Rally for Trust for the National Mall, a charity used to repair and fund the Mall and its services. According to the Trust’s website, almost $120,000 has been raised through the rally.
Colbert said that rally-goers should be inspired by fear.
“Fear is ubiquitous. Everyone is afraid in the recession. Decisions are not made through logic but fear. Fear is a motivator. Fear gets things done,” he said. “Money is a great motivator too. The three main motivators are fear, cash and airline miles.”
But he added that there where more whimsical reasons for attending.
“I’ve been working out,” Colbert quipped. “I want to be in a unitard for part of the rally,”
Rally volunteers will be positioned at Federal Center, L’Enfant Plaza, Archives-Navy Memorial, Smithsonian and Federal Triangle stops to guide visitors to the event.
**Correction:** This article originally stated that Friday’s comedy show was coordinated by The Washington Post’s Going Out Gurus blog, when in fact the Washington Improv Theater performed in the comedy show.