RTE happened to be streaming the entire event live on their web player, which was awesome. I was able to catch the whole thing and here are my thoughts presented in chronological faction.
17.00 We spend the first half hour with musical warm-up acts, mostly the Roots. Not my kind of music, so I spent most of that opening half-hour surfing elsewhere. Crowd was obviously huge but only the front ranks seemed to be exited by the music. And Jesus, I get it, someone shot you in the shoulder.
I suppose this sort of anti-war, soul music is the rally organisers preaching to the choir so to speak.
17.30 Out come the Mythbusters, Adam Savage and Jaime Hyneman, bit of a surprise there. This was really a better warm-up act then the previous music. Savage has that kind of raw energy that can get a crowd exited, though Hyneman was mostly silent and awkward looking (though, that’s kinda par for the course right?). Some good crowd interaction stuff here, though it might have gone on a bit too long.
17. 55 Kinda surprised a third of the Rally had gone by before one of the star attractions showed up. Stewart got a big pop upon entering the stage. It was kinda clear he was the main guy for the whole thing straight away, essentially being the MC for the rest of the gig.
17.56 4troops give us The Star Spangled Banner. It was an OK rendition, though I’m not a huge fan of those kind of “stretch it ouuutttt” performances.
18.00 Stewart’s back out now, welcoming the crowd. He starts out with a recurring theme for the day which to mock the criteria for a “succesful” rally, claiming that ten million people of the perfect racial diversity ratio are present. I suppose he could easily do such material, since it was obvious he had bested the Glenn Beck rally, the very thing that Stewart is trying to combat, easily.
18.05 Colbert comes out. Colbert’s whole roll when on the same stage as Stewart is to be the comic foil to Stewart’s reasonable presenter. Col-Bear (the character) is meant to be a cartoon made flesh after all, so what better than to start him off in a “fear-bunker.” Nice touch with the Chilean miner entrance. Colbert started off with the fear theme, but it was clear it was all so Stewart could spend the time refuting him. Some funny material here, like Colbert encouraging a book burning.
18.14 Don Novello is out in character as Father Guido Sarducci. Nice choice for the Rally though he was rambling a bit at the end. Not sure some of the crowd got the joke, since his “benediction” was pretty reasonable for the setting.
18.19: Probably my favourite bit of the whole thing as Colbert has Law and Order’s Sam Waterston come out to do a reading of a fear inducing poem dubbed “Are You Sure?” It was funny and cute, but again, the crowd wasn’t big into it.
18.24: The next bit, with Yusuf/Stewart essentially having a musical battle with Ozzie Osbourne/Colbert was another highlight. Ozzie was definitely more over with the crowd who got pretty loud when he appeared. Interesting medley of songs, not sure it worked that well.
18.30: Another musical interlude with the O’ Jays. Decent enough, and I thought that Stewart convincing Colbert that love was something to fear because of “AIDs and Heartbreak” was fairly amusing.
18.36: Brief little vignette showcasing how unreasonable behavior results in bad things. Stephen Slater and Giudice, two media car-crash darlings, take part. It was a funny skit, but kinda short. I was expecting a few more of them.
18. 39: The Daily Show crowd starts in with more audience participation and again the theme is rally success. A lot of this stuff seemed directed at the sort of people who obsess over rally sizes and wasn’t terribly witty or subtle.
18.42: Stewart and Colbert start out with a recurring segment with rewards for sanity and/or fear. First up is Baseball player Armanso Galleraga for being fairly accepting on one of the most infamous umpire calls in recent history, then a fear award for news agencies who wouldn’t cover the event. The blast at NPR who didn’t want to risk being viewed as liberally slanted, was particularly funny. This kind of segment works pretty well, its classic Stewart/Colbert right down to the little girl accepting for the news agencies.
18.46: Staples and Tweedy out for another bit of music. Not sure it was right for the time, the slow beat bumming the crowd out after the previous fun.
18.51: More medals this time for Velma Hart and Anderson Cooper. Not quite as funny as the last one, and it was clear that the format suited Colbert better.
18.54: A video package from PK Winsome as a merchandize skit. Fell a little flat, crowd just wasn’t into it. Went on too long.
18.58: Probably what was supposed to be one of the biggest moments as Stewart and Colbert sing. Some good points about that sort of “selective patriotism” sentiment. The crowd again, didn’t seem that lively. Not great singers, either of the two, especially live.
19.05: Medals again – Mick Foley, Mark Zuckerburg, and Jacob Isom the recipients. Always good to see Foley, who is an awesome entertainer.
19.10: Kid Rock/Cheryl Crowe are out for a sing-song. Not a big fan or either so I switched off.
19.21: Main event time as Stewart and Colbert debate on the topic of fear and sanity. Like most of the event it was all about the Col-Bear character being ridiculous and unreasonable as Stewart beat him down with logic and sense. Some pretty good guest spots throughout, especially the hitherto absent John Oliver. The clips of news shows, the kind of thing Daily Show and Colbert Report do so well, were very effective.
19.42: Stewart gives the closing address. It’s a good speech, though as I said, he’s kinda preaching to the choir. He didn’t really say anything too shocking or noteworthy, but a good speil nonetheless. I suppose it would be more moving for Americans than me.
Not a bad three hours, but some parts were very underwhelming. Most of the music was sub-par and the crowd never really seemed that exited or up for it. Stewart was the star and Colbert never had as much of a chance to shine.
A success? Well, if you believe Stewart, he wasn’t looking for “success” or to put across any kind of point. Interesting timing though with the US Mid-Terms coming up within days. I doubt that Stewart’s hopes of “restoring sanity” will really work out that well, but he made his points.
And he, as always, made them better than Glenn Beck. That’s something.