What was the point of the Rally to Restore Sanity? Jon Stewart explained it to hundreds of thousands in D.C.

Would a sane person hop on a bus, train, or airplane, fight all sorts of traffic getting to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., just to support a Rally to Restore Sanity (and/or Fear)? That was the question Comedy Central and Jon Stewart posed, and estimates say more than 200,000 people answered yes on Saturday.

Of course, a really sane person would, recognizing that Comedy Central was airing the three-hour rally live on TV, prefer the comfort of his/her own home to sit and watch the rally proceed. But that's just me (and perhaps millions, depending upon the Nielsen ratings to come). And finding out that several of my NYC friends and acquaintances reached D.C. midway through the rally, whereupon they'd have no chance to get close to the stage, I felt pretty good about that decision.

But what about the rally itself? We can argue about the worthiness of several of the scripted bits and musical selections, or the tone of the rally. I, for one, expected more of that "clarion call" to come in the form of stand-up comedy. After all, The Daily Show already puts on a regular monthly stand-up showcase in New York City at Comix, called The Daily Show and Friends (with the next show coming this Wednesday, Nov. 3), and a few of the show's correspondents already have plenty of material questioning the sanity of our government and our media. But John Oliver and Wyatt Cenac were relegated to small, supporting roles in the rally, and Lewis Black was not to be seen at all. They did put on a "heckuva of a good job," though, to borrow the phrase that was recently borrowed on TDS last week.

And they certainly reminded a lot of people that Tuesday, Nov. 2, is Election Day, even if they didn't really express that message explicitly, or enough.

So what to make of it all? After two hours and forty-five minutes of music from The Roots, Yusef Islam (the former Cat Stevens, although he was only identified first-name only as Yusef, hmmm), Ozzy Osbourne, The O'Jays, Jeff Tweedy and Mavis Staples, and Tony Bennett, in addition to banter between Stewart and Stephen Colbert (mocking the event from the "Fear" side), and a few honors handed out to choices sincere and not-so-much, Stewart finally took to the stage solo to address the hundreds of thousands of spectator on the Mall and those of us watching on TV or online, to make his case.

He was sincere and poignant. We must not let the insane people take over our government and our media, when they are such a small percentage of us. Who we are is better exemplified by the masses who make compromises easily every day funneling into the Lincoln and Hudson tunnels to commute by vehicle back and forth from NYC.

This is the full address from Jon Stewart at the end of the rally.


Click here to view photos from the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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One thought on “What was the point of the Rally to Restore Sanity? Jon Stewart explained it to hundreds of thousands in D.C.

  1. I went to the rally. I got stuck in traffic, arrived a little late, faced massive crowds, and could barely see the stage. But it was awesome. And the whole reason I went was so that I could be counted and add to that huge mass of people.
    And years from now when my kids and my grandkids ask me about the rally, my story will be a little more interesting than “My friends went, but I watched it on TV.”

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