They'll be duelling rallies unlike any seen recently in the U.S. capital: The Daily Show host Jon Stewart urging Americans to tone down the angry political rhetoric, while pseudo-news nemesis Stephen Colbert exhorts his own supporters nearby to rage against Stewart's "dark forces" of rationality.
Stewart plans to host a "Rally To Restore Sanity" on Oct. 30 on the National Mall in D.C. for the Americans he says are too busy living normal, rational lives to attend other political demonstrations. Colbert, meantime, will shepherd his fans in a "March To Keep Fear Alive."
"It is happening, people!" Stewart announced Thursday to cheers from the studio audience for his Comedy Central show in New York City.
"We will gather on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., a Million Moderate March where we take to the streets to send a message ... that we are here! We are only here, though, until 6 because we have a sitter."
Colbert, meantime, is urging those attending his march against toning down the rhetoric, saying they should escalate it.
"Damn your reasonableness!" Colbert said. "Now is not the time to take it down a notch. Now is the time for all good men to freak out for freedom!"
The events are a not-so-gentle swipe at Fox News personality Glenn Beck, whose recent D.C. rally, "Restoring Honor," drew about 100,000 flag-waving Americans to the Lincoln Memorial on the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s historic "I Have a Dream" speech. Beck's choice of date and site for the event angered civil rights activists.
"Maybe we would do a 'March of the Reasonable,' on a date of no particular significance," Stewart told New York magazine earlier this week as the events were still in the planning stage.
Less than 12 hours after announcing the rallies on their respective shows on Thursday night, the events' Facebook pages were amassing tens of thousands of fans.
"I'm afraid of fear, but Stephen is helping me to overcome my fear of fear, so that I will be more free to fear those who want to take my freedom," Steve Koester, a University of Minnesota professor, wrote on the Facebook wall for Colbert's rally.
Signs will be provided for those who attend Stewart's event, he told his audience. They'll feature slogans like "I Disagree With You But I'm Pretty Sure You're Not Hitler" and "I'm Afraid of Spiders."
Meaghan Connaire, a 26-year-old New York paralegal, plans to travel to D.C. to take in the event.
"I'm going because I'm tired of everyone losing their minds," she said in an interview on Friday.
"Plus, I find the Tea Party to be a very real, very scary threat, and I'll happily attend any rally that promotes sanity and reason."