The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

Firecracker and I went to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s Rally this weekend in D.C. Neither of us are very political except for the basic American concept of leave me alone and I’ll leave you alone, but that seems long forgotten these days. I used to collect coins when I was a kid, and one of the first, known as the Fugio Cent, designed by Ben Franklin, read “Mind Your Business” instead of “In God We Trust.” That motto got on the currency after the not-so Civil War. But we don’t mind our business much anymore.

The show had a long warm-up by The Roots, John Legend, and the Mythbusters guys who had us do the wave all the way down the National Mall. It took almost a minute! The park service planned for 150,000 people to be there, and everyone seemed well behaved. There were a few political extremists and wackos on the fringes, but the center where we were consisted of fans and people tired of the hyperbole and news focusing on the fringe wackos. They had many, many guests. The Mall was shoulder to shoulder until a block from the Lincoln Memorial. Sanity defeats wackos, easily.
Yusuf “Cat Stevens” Islam and Ozzy Osbourne played dueling versions of “Peace Train” and “Crazy Train” until the O’Jays came out to play “Love Train” instead. Sam Waterston read a poem meant to inspire fear by Stephen Colbert which was hilarious. Tim Meadows did his P.K. Winsome act, Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow did a duet, and Kareem Abdul Jabbar showed up to show us that we’ve cheered and loved a Muslim, who’s just like any other sports star. New estimates count 215,000 at the rally vs. Glenn Beck’s 96,000… mission accomplished.
Here are my photos from the rally.

Hitler is Hitler… one is enough

Adam Savage of Mythbusters

I love bacon

You’re entitled to your opinion but not your own spelling.

© 2010 Tommy Salami

The Colbert Report

Stephen Colbert is one of my heroes. He was my favorite part of The Daily Show, and I was happily surprised when he got his own show. Its rampant success amazed me, for satire is not always appreciated in American culture, but he did it. His show continues to raise the bar for television comedy and news, going places that “real” news shows won’t dare. He keeps his principles and uses his character to fight for them, and after the Presidential Correspondents’ dinner with George W. Bush, you know he’s pretty much got the biggest balls of any comedian on the planet. As influential Lenny Bruce without the heroin addiction, if you ask me. I got tickets to his show by following them on Facebook and jumping when they were available. As you can see, I have ticket #57, so that’s my Wesley Snipes face:
That’s Drossarian behind me. We have a trick camera that does the reverse effect of how they made Gandalf look so much taller than the hobbits in Lord of the Rings, so we can be in the same frame. He is actually 8 feet tall. Firecracker and “Beast” Katie East filled out our group. We waited quite a while for Stephen and crew to get ready, because they had to set up a crazy harem tent that would be used for a gag later. We got to watch the warm-up comic whose name I forget, but he was very good. He’s a local NYC comedian who should say his name more often. He was very good at poking fun at audience members without being unnecessarily cruel, even when they are named “Dong.” Now that’s talent. He did call our two gals “bitchy” because they kept yelling about Steel Magnolias being a play before it was a movie. He didn’t know that movie is sacred to Louisiana ladies.
I met Stephen in the lobby. He was in character, but felt a little flat. He must have had a rough night. Before the show, he does a Q&A session out of character. He was very gracious and funny, answering questions and reciting anecdotes. I wanted to ask if he’d do voice work for the Venture Bros. show again, but I didn’t get chosen. His wife came to the show and was watching from the sidelines. What I like most about Mr. Colbert is not just that he’s funny, but that he’s genuine and has principles. I love when you can see them sneaking through his character and he has to nail someone that “Stephen” would love but that he personally disagrees with vehemently. He’s very fast on his feet and like myself, has no dignity; anything for a joke. He had 11 siblings to compete with, I was a firstborn, so what’s my excuse?
This was one of the better episodes in recent memory, with a pun so bad that he made himself fight a minotaur and conquer a harem for uttering it. He also calls Stephen Hawking an “a-hole,” goes after Fox News”s attempts to make the Goldman-Sachs CEO seem like a regular guy, and interviews author Conn Iggulden, who wrote The Dangerous Book for Boys, and his newest, The Dangerous Book of Heroes. You can see us in the audience when the mascot fires the t-shirt cannon; I’m in the red striped shirt to the right of the gal who caught the first shirt, clapping my hands off. If I’d been paying attention, I would have tackled her for it. Katie caught one of many WristStrong bracelets that Stephen shot into the audience, so we didn’t go home empty-handed. Or empty-hearted; these memories will last a lifetime, and I’ll tell my grandchildren I saw Stephen Colbert defeat a minotaur.

Here’s a screencap thanks to Julie, who is far more patient than I! The clip follows, and a link to the full episode is at the bottom of the post.]

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Stephen Hawking Is Such an A-Hole
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Fox News

Watch the Full Episode on Comedy Central.

© 2010 Thomas Pluck.

I Am America (and so can you)

I’ve been a proud member of the Colbert Nation since Stephen broke off from that commie John Stewart and forged out on his own. So it’s only natural that I would read his book. I’m about a year too late to give it a prescient review, but if you haven’t picked it up yet, it’s definitely worth a read.

Stephen rehashes some of the best parts of his show, but there’s a lot of fresh humor here. He gives us his opinion on everything from sex to the elderly to sex with the elderly, thankfully that part is without illustrations. He’s not afraid to stoop to using a poop joke or to reference an obscure philosopher that may have you rushing to wikipedia. Much of the book is padded with visuals and charts, so it’s a quicker read than its size might lead you to believe. Still, it’s also padded with funny bonus items like stickers and cut-outs, so you get a bit of a bargain for your hardcover price.

If you’re a fan of the show, he treads a lot of familiar ground, but he can go a lot further than Comedy Central will let him. There are a lot of laughs in the book, and I annoyed the hell out of my friends and family by pausing every few paragraphs to read aloud. Some things just can’t be explained, but when you meet Cave Jesus I assure you, you’ll understand.

He ends the book with the text of his infamous White House Correspondents Dinner speech, which really shot him onto the national stage as having enormous cojones. Move over Al Franken, the new political comedian is Stephen Colbert. No offense to Jon Stewart, I enjoy his show, but there’s a reason you get chosen to host the Oscars a second time- you’re funny, but also inoffensive enough to not really shake things up. That’s why we won’t see Chris Rock up there again.

I enjoyed this much more than Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot, which helped open the gates for offensive political humor again. Who did we have before that, P.J. O’Rourke? He can write well, but his heyday is past, if he ever had one. The book also manages to mimic the show visually, by using red text in the margins in place of The WØRD subtitles that riff off what Stephen’s saying. It must have been a blast or a nightmare for the designer and the publisher. Hopefully Mr. Colbert will have enough material for a few more of these, because mocking O’Reilly and Coulter is a worthy pursuit, and he’s really good at it. I can enjoy Bill Maher, but sometimes when your political opponents paint themselves in such broad strokes, you don’t need to bother refuting them. Using their own words against them is enough, and Colbert is the master of that.

Rating: 3 American flags and half an apple pie.