Stewart and Colbert tried so hard to so little effect that it was almost a relief when they brought on one musical act after another. I had no idea I was going to a concert, but it felt like there was more music than there was anything else, mostly by people I had never heard of. There was one great comedic musical moment, when Yusuf (formerly known as Cat Stevens, then as Yusuf Islam – and he was the musical representative of sanity) and Ozzy Osbourne (representing fear – somehow once the entire nation has witnessed him shuffling around in his bathrobe it’s hard to make that association) dueled with “Peace Train” and “Crazy Train.”
The funniest bit didn’t involve either Stewart or Colbert. It was Father Guido Sarducci who came to the rescue with a “benediction” that was more like a friendly, one-to-one tiff with God. He badgered God to give us all a sign which religion was right, with the apparent result that none of them is. It had nothing to do with sanity or fear and he didn’t have a band, so it was a refreshing break in addition to being really funny (look it up on YouTube – it must be there by now). Sam Waterston also scored with a dramatic recitation of a poem that Colbert claimed he wrote the night before. After that it was back downhill.
Only at the very end did Jon Stewart really attempt to explain the rally in a speech censuring political extremists and ripping the media a new one for abandoning its critical role of educating the public in a democracy. He got some good lines in and set the stage nicely for the rally. Too late.
Stephen & Jon, I love you guys, but I want my train fare back.