Today's Rally to Restore Sanity And/Or Fear, hosted on the national mall by comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, was primarily three hours of entertainment. There were a couple of sincere moments and modest amounts of message-hammering (more on that later), but for the most part, it was a series of jokes and pop culture references punctuated by songs and surprise appearances by famous people.
Here, the five most entertaining bits:
1.When Stephen Colbert emerged onstage in a mimicry of the Chilean miner rescue.
While a normally-dressed Jon Stewart trotted onstage after The Roots opened the rally, Stephen Colbert would of course have no such average entrance. Instead, his voice projected over the speakers, pleading with Stewart for help.
"Jon! Jon! I'm trapped in my fear bunker," Colbert said. Jumbotrons projected Colbert huddled in a dark place. "My fear bunker is 2,000 feat below the stage, encased in solid bedrock."
After Stewart convinced Colbert that it was safe to leave his bunker, a troop of men in orange vests and yellow hard hats swarmed a corner of the stage. They raised a cylinder from the below the stage, and Colbert emerged from it in a skintight, red, white, and blue superhero outfit. He egged on the crowd with a chant of "Chi, Chi, Chi! Le, Le, Le!"
2. Colbert's "Mein Poem," as read by Sam Waterston.
Once Colbert was onstage and had completed one of his many costume changes--to a leather jacket and blue pants sprinkled with American-flag-type stars--he announced that he'd written a poem for the occasion. Reading "Mein Poem" aloud, he said, would be "the most reasonable-seeming man in America, Mr. Sam Waterston."
Waterston, the distinguished elderly gentleman known for his role on Law & Order, took the microphone and, in a movie-trailer-ready voice, read a rhyming series of things to be afraid of, from traffic, to tap water, to serial killers.
"Someone's robbing your house. I can see through your blouse. Your mother was right, you chose the wrong spouse," Waterston read at a speedy tempo.
3. Yusuf Islam's (i.e., Cat Stevens') and Ozzy Osbourne's duet.
After Colbert's poem wound down, Stewart invited Yusuf Islam--the folk singer formerly known as Cat Stevens--onstage. Islam launched into a mellow rendition of his song "Peace Train," but Colbert burst onstage and interrupted him.
"I'm not getting on that train," he said to boos from the crowd. "I'm getting on a different train and my conductor has an important announcement to make.
At this point legendary rock star Ozzy Osbourne ran onstage and burst into a high-energy version of his song "Crazy Train."
Stewart then interrupted Osbourne, telling him he wasn't "comfortable on that train," and Islam picked up "Peace Train" again. The interruptions continued until Osbourne and Islam were simultaneously singing their very different songs. When they left the stage, Stewart brought on the soul group The O'Jays to do a full performance of their 1970s chart-topper "Love Train."
4. When Jon Stewart tried to sing.
Speaking of singing, there was the time Colbert and Stewart performed a competitive duet to prove who loved America more. Colbert has a good voice and often performs comedic numbers on his show, but Stewart seemed less ... trained. He cracked up at the beginning of the song-and-dance routine but gamely belted out rhyming Juan Williams jokes.
"I'm very sorry that you had to hear me sing," he said in a cracking voice after the song finished.
5. R2D2's appearance.
One of the recurring themes of the three-hour rally was Colbert's fear of Muslims. Some of those jokes began to feel a bit preachy, including when Stewart brought Kareem Abdul-Jabbar onstage to show Colbert that not all Muslims are evil.
But when R2D2, the beloved Star Wars robot, rolled onstage to prove that not all robots are scary (don't stress the logic--it was not the highlight of this scene), the preachiness morphed into absurdity. Colbert had a lurching conversation with R2D2, who accidentally rolled over Stewart's foot on its way offstage, doubling Stewart over in laughter.