Comedy rally pokes fun at politics
Comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have entertained thousands at a "sanity" rally in Washington, poking fun at America's ill-tempered politics, fear-mongers and doomsayers, just three days before the congressional election.
Part comedy show, part pep talk, the rally drew together tens of thousands stretched across an expanse of the National Mall, a festive congregation of the goofy and the politically disenchanted.
People carried signs merrily protesting the existence of protest signs. Some dressed like bananas, wizards, Martians and Uncle Sam.
"We live now in hard times," Stewart said at the end of the rally. "Not end times."
Stewart, a satirist who makes his living skewering the famous on the late-night cable TV satirical news programme The Daily Show, came to play nice. He decried the "extensive effort it takes to hate" and declared "we can have animus and not be enemies".
Colbert, who poses as an ultra-conservative on his Comedy Central cable TV show The Colbert Report, played the personification of fear at the rally.
He arrived on stage in a capsule like a rescued Chilean miner, from a supposed underground bunker. He pretended to distrust all Muslims until one of his heroes, basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, came on to the stage.
"Maybe I need to be more discerning," Colbert mused. He told Stewart: "Your reasonableness is poisoning my fear."
With critical congressional elections looming on Tuesday, Stewart and Colbert refrained from taking political sides on stage.
The idea was to provide a counterweight to all the shouting and flying insults of the polarised election season. But there were political undertones, too, pushing back against conservatives ahead of the election.