Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert drew a cheering throng of more than 215,000 to their Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear in Washington, which may be the biggest comedy event in history. Here's a look at the funniest moments from their raucous yet reasonable rally.
In a moment of sincerity at the close of the rally, Jon Stewart gave an impassioned speech in which he slammed the media for stoking conflict, while appealing to the better side he sees in nearly every American. "We live now in hard times, not end times. And we can have animus and not be enemies. But unfortunately one of our main tools in delineating the two broke. The country's 24 hour political pundit perpetual panic conflictinator did not cause our problems but its existence makes solving them that much harder. … If we amplify everything we hear nothing." Watch the video and read the transcript of Stewart's searing takedown of the news media.
In keeping with the spirit of satirizing political rallies, many rally-goers showed up with hilarious protest signs, some of them ironic, some of them poking fun at right-wing insanity. Among them: "Tea Parties Are For Little Girls and Mad Hatters," "I Disagree With You But I Probably Won't Step On Your Head," "Fear Gives Me A Boehner," "I Will Respect Your Opinion As Soon As You Stop Making S**t Up," "I Fought Nazis and They Don't Look Like Obama," "Down With Zippers". See our roundup of the funniest signs from the rally.
One of the biggest surprises of the rally was a musical face-off between Yusuf Islam (formerly known as Cat Stevens) and Ozzy Osbourne. The two dueled onstage in a head-on musical train collision that featured Islam representing sanity and singing "Peace Train," and Osbourne representing fear and singing "Crazy Train." The battle was a draw, but Stewart and Colbert came up with a middle-of-the-road solution and brought out The O'Jays to sing "Love Trian," which both agreed was an acceptable train. Watch the video.
Stephen Colbert made his grand entrance at the rally from his "fear bunker" after Jon Stewart assured him people came to the rally. Drawn by cheers, Colbert ascended to the stage in a device like that used to bring up the trapped Chilean miners last month, wearing a superhero costume.
Not to be outdone by musical performers such as Sheryl Crow and John Legend, Stewart and Colbert sang their own comical song about who loves America more. Colbert: "America is perfect and there's nothing to fix, my PIN code is 1776, Americans will deep fry anything, and that is why I sing." Stewart: I embody the spirit of the founders I know, cause I watched John Adams on the HBO. You can tax all my cash to help a stranger, but I'll sue city hall if they put up a manger." Watch their singing duel.
To read a special poem he wrote for the occasion to help stoke fear, Colbert enlisted "the most reasonable-seeming man in America," Sam Waterston, of "Law and Order" fame. The poem featured such lines as: "Look around at these people. How safe do you feel? / Your car, when you parked, did you lock it? / Thinking reasonably now, what are the odds that nobody here’s a pickpocket? / That guy who just coughed down your neck, could he have an infection? / The restaurant where you went to brunch, did it fail its health inspection."
At a news conference following the rally, Stewart and Colbert said they were genuinely moved by the audience's response. Asked how he thought the media would react to his pointed barbs, Stewart said, "Don't care," adding, "Our currency is not this town's currency. We're not running for anything. We don't have a constituency. We do television shows for people who like them. ... And we wanted to do a really good show for people that took the time to come out and see us, and I feel like we accomplished it." Watch the press conference.