In an interview at Full Stop, Rapture Ready author and "Daily Show" writer Dan Radosh talks about how and when and why the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert headlined "Rally To Restore Sanity" was conceived -- stuff that, if you're like me, you might have missed. As Radosh relates, while the rally ended up being a central component of a year of exciting work for the show, he initially greeted the notion of a comedy rally with reticence:
Then, in the summer, as we're finishing the book, Glenn Beck announces he's going to have this rally and Jon says, "We should have a rally of our own. We should go out there and have a Rally to Restore Sanity." And I thought, "please let him forget this" - because he'll do that sometimes, he'll say something then [drop it]. I thought it sounded like the worst possible idea. A comedy rally? Do not let this happen.
Then I didn't hear anything about it for a couple months; I thought, "Thank God, he forgot." Then the Beck rally starts to come closer and Jon's like "We're going to do that rally," and I was like, shit.
I grew up going to a lot of rallies and protests and I thought you can't do comedy bits like we do on the show for such a large crowd. I was thinking, "This is going to be such a catastrophe." And then, again, as it came closer I was like, "Holy shit." It was incredible; it was an amazing experience. I know it had some dissenters, which is alright. It should.
While there are few who doubted that the Rally To Restore Sanity was designed to draw contrast with Glenn Beck's Rally To Restore Honor, one of the prevailing perceptions of the Rally To Restore Sanity's origins has been the idea that Stewart and Colbert responded to demand from fans, who took to the Internet seeking a response from the comedians. Those demands went viral when the show was on hiatus; when they returned, Stewart and Colbert gently teased viewers for weeks about a "big announcement." As Adam Frucci at Splitsider astutely points out, Radosh's account helps to tell the story:
Here's the original post on Reddit that supposedly inspired the whole shebang; it was posted on August 31st, three days after Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally. If Radosh's timing is accurate, Stewart had already been planning the rally for a while at that point.
That's not to say Reddit had nothing to do with the rally. The huge amount of money they donated to Donor's Choose clearly had a big effect on Colbert, and they helped whip the internet up into a fervor about the idea of a satirical political rally. But to say that the initial idea was theirs doesn't seem to be the case.
Interview: Daniel Radosh [Full-Stop]
Jon Stewart Had Been Planning the Rally to Restore Sanity for Months [Splitsider]