Stephen Colbert talks to Broadside about Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

Stephen Colbert talked to Broadside last week about the Restore Sanity and/or Fear rally on Saturday. (Photo from Comedy Central, photo by Joel Jefferies) 

It’s not possible to rally for sanity, according to Stephen Colbert.

“I don’t think it’s possible to get excited about moderate behavior,” said Colbert, host of Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report.” “It’s a paradox I don’t understand. Are you going to get extremely moderate at the rally? No. You’ve got to get jacked up about something. That’s why I’m offering fear as something to get excited about.”

Colbert and Jon Stewart are hosting a rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on Saturday from noon to 3 p.m.

Once dueling rallies, Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity, an attempt to unite the reasonable “Busy Majority,” as explained on its website, and Colbert’s March to Keep Fear Alive, a rally to ensure fear is not replaced by reason, have combined, presumably because Colbert forgot to get a rally permit.

As announced on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” on Oct. 14, Stewart and Colbert’s combined rally is now called the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.

Though details about what will happen at the rally have been kept underwraps, to date over 218,000 people have said they would attend on the Rally to Restore Sanity Facebook page.

Colbert hopes that this rally becomes a generation defining event.

According to Colbert, the event would be a success if it resulted in raising $500,000 for Donors Choose, an organization that raises money to give to classrooms and students in need. Colbert is also on the board of directors of the organization.

Another way for the rally to be successful, says Colbert, is by getting Stewart to admit that he is scared.

“I would like to get Jon to admit that he’s terrified,” said Colbert. “I don’t believe this reasonableness business.”

Colbert admits that he is also terrified – of bears.

“Bears – the god of killing machines,” says Colbert, before he goes on to describe a specific type of bear that would be most frightening. “Gay, immigrant bears – is that possible? Canadian bears I guess would be the short way of saying that.”

Something else Colbert is scared of is that people like Stewart more than him. “I fear he’ll win the Emmy again next year,” Colbert said.

Aside from his own personal phobias, Colbert explains his views on the nation’s fears when he was an undergraduate.

When Colbert was in college, the biggest fears in America were “nuclear annihilation from the Russians ... that oh and AIDS,” said Colbert. “So, fear of communists and gay people. So, I guess in some ways they’re the same as they are now.”

Though these seemingly innate American fears are on the political side, Colbert explains that the rally is not a political one.

“I’m not there to influence anybody’s vote,” said Colbert. “I’m there to make sure Jon Stewart does not get people to think rationally about their vote.”
Colbert encourages those who attend the rally to cast their vote based on emotions, not rationality.

“I won’t fear the vote of anyone who comes to my rally,” said Colbert. “I’m not doing this to get people to vote, but if they do vote, they should vote on their feelings. I’m not afraid of them.”

Fear is a great motivator that leads to results, according to Colbert.

“They can feel what they want, but I want them to be acting out of emotion and not out of reason because rationality gets you things like the atomic bomb,” said Colbert. “I mean that’s where logic gets you, whereas fearing the atomic bomb is the thing that kept us safe during the Cold War.”

After people learn to act out of emotion rather than reason at the rally, Colbert hopes people continue to keep the fear alive throughout the night and the next day.

“I’m hoping that people keep the fear going through fear parties that they hold that night, where everybody is dressed up in their costumes for fear at these different parties, and maybe there’s punch and the next day they go out with their kids, also dressed up as fearful things, and they spread fear door to door, maybe around dusk.”

For people who are afraid to go to the rally, Colbert understands that fear.
“There are going to be hundreds of thousands of people,” said Colbert. “It could be the epicenter of a new pandemic. Of course I’m concerned about that – you heard Purell doesn’t work, right?”

Along with Donors Choose, proceeds from merchandise purchased for this rally go to the Yellow Ribbon Fund, an organization that supports injured service members,  and the Trust for the National Mall, a foundation to preserve the historic site.

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