September 17th, 2010
04:37 PM ET

Colbert, Stewart rallies on 'date of no significance'?

P.T. Barnum's "Greatest Show on Earth" debuted October 30, 1873.

When Jon Stewart raised the idea of doing a march in Washington, he said he wanted to make sure it was "on a date of no significance."

Stewart publicly floated the idea of a counter-rally to Glenn Beck's much-publicized "Restoring Honor" rally on the National Mall in a profile in the September 12 edition of New York magazine. Beck's rally was held on the 47th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, delivered in the same place.

So when Stewart and Comedy Central's other favorite funny man, Stephen Colbert, decided to announce rallies of their own in the nation's capital October 30, we had to take a look into history to see whether the date held a clean slate or whether there were some moments in time the two comedians might be ironically, or purposely, shining a light on.

Although it's likely any single day they chose could have some ironies to it, it turns out there are a number of interesting events in history that have taken place October 30.

Perhaps the double team of Stewart and Colbert are hoping their respective rallies will be regarded as the "Greatest Shows on Earth" - after all, P.T. Barnum's now-well-known circus did debut October 30, 1873. (If nothing else, it'd be a nod to the show's creator, who is also known for coining the phrase "there's a sucker born every minute"). Are you trying to send a tongue-in-cheek message to us, men of comedy?

Or perhaps the date of the rallies, and their place on the Mall, could be a nod to several historic moments in time. Here are a few of the other big events that have taken place on October 30. Are any the impetus behind the date's use? Or just a coincidence? Share your thoughts in the comments bellow.

  • In 1905, Russian Czar Nicholas II signed the "October Manifesto," which granted civil liberties like the freedom of speech, press, assembly and worship as well as political liberties. With one stroke of the pen on October 30, Russia had a constitution and became a constitutional monarchy.
  • In 1918, the Ottoman Empire signed an armistice with the Allied powers, ending World War I in the Middle East, which enabled Britain and other countries to begin carving out boundaries in the area - and essentially marking the dissolution of the Empire to partition several countries, including Iraq and Iran.
  • In 1938, Orson Welles created panic across the country when he broadcast an adaptation of "War of the Worlds" on the radio. Some chaos ensued because of the style and format of the broadcast: The first parts of the show were presented like news bulletins, confusing many listeners, who thought there was an actual Martian invasion currently happening. We wonder if perhaps Colbert and Stewart want to start a little shakeup of their own.
  • In 1944, the use of gas chambers in concentration camps during the Holocaust was officially put to a stop on October 30.
  • In 1945, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball by signing a contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers. The fight against racial segregation also took a large step forward on October 30 of another year - 1954 - when the U.S. armed forces officially ended the practice within their ranks.
  • In 1950, Pope Pius XII witnessed "the Miracle of the Sun" at the Vatican. "I was awestruck by a phenomenon that before now I had never seen," the pope reportedly said in a memo. "The sun, which was still quite high, looked like a pale, opaque sphere, entirely surrounded by a luminous circle," he recounted. You could look at the sun "without the slightest bother. There was a very light little cloud in front of it."
  • October 30, 1974, was also a huge day in sports. The famous Rumble in the Jungle boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in Zaire.
  • And finally, in 1995, Quebec made a big decision of its own on October 30 and voted on a referendum to remain part of Canada.
soundoff (108 Responses)
  1. Faisal

    people are suffering and all these clowns can do is laugh

    September 18, 2010 at 1:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Lance Boyle

      Maybe the people who are suffering need some humor.

      September 18, 2010 at 1:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Nick Carbuncle

      The words of Jon Stewart: "You may be asking yourself ... 'but am I the right person to go to this rally?'" Stewart said on his show. "The fact that you would even stop to ask yourself that question as opposed to just jumping up, grabbing the nearest stack of burnable holy books, strapping on a diaper and pointing your car towards D.C. — that means I think you just might be right for it."
      If it weren't for this kind of sarcasm, we'd be taking things so seriously that we would all become prigs.

      September 18, 2010 at 2:08 am | Report abuse |
  2. karen

    i wish i could be there. the idea is to lighten up and admit we have disagreements, but, we are all striving for the same things. to be a part of this day in washington would be helpful to just meet up with people and enjoy being in the nation's capitol.

    September 18, 2010 at 1:44 am | Report abuse |
  3. Rita


    September 18, 2010 at 1:48 am | Report abuse |
  4. Julie

    Mmm... if this article were written by CNN writers I would think it might reflect a little miffedness at Stewarts constant, and justified, ragging on CNNs' TV efforts at least.
    As it is, I think the events noted are screamingly meaningless except maybe for the Orson Wells broadcast. If ever there were hideous unEarthly creatures invading the USA – it's the Tea Partiers. No hoax unfortunately.
    If I could, would be at both rallies, screaming against the American Taliban – i.e. Tea Partiers.
    Stewart and Colbert are comedians, yes. But they also, in the user-friendly way of progressives/liberals – make very real and wise points that bear serious consideration.

    September 18, 2010 at 1:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      Thank you Julie – I whole-heartedly agree. Maybe CNN should hire you, because as it is, they most certainly have lost their way.

      September 19, 2010 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Solo75

    Palin-Drome 2012

    September 18, 2010 at 2:11 am | Report abuse |
    • half-minute man

      She lives on Palinnilap Lake In AK. You brought it up, so I have to be serious for a moment. To allow Sarah Palin any responsibility in federal government would be a sin against humanity. During her candidacy for VP, her handlers working for McCain stated, among many other things, that “[S]he still didn’t really understand why there was a North Korea and a South Korea,” and “She was still regularly saying that Saddam Hussein had been behind 9/11.” .....“Even after crash-course tutorials by campaign aides following the convention, Palin was still woefully uninformed about basic policy issues.” If I failed to comprehend these fundamental concepts at say, the age of 12, my parents would have sought the services of a medical specialist, probably starting with a neurologist to rule out brain trauma – no exaggeration or hyperbole. No country can afford to have a leader who is, quite frankly, stupid. Why anyone would support a person who does not have a grasp on junior high civics and social sciences is bewildering and quite troubling. To think she has genuine political clout! If we didn’t laugh,we’d have to cry! That's why I watch these programs.

      September 18, 2010 at 2:38 am | Report abuse |
  6. Yoda

    I have it on divine authority that you are all insane.

    September 18, 2010 at 2:23 am | Report abuse |
  7. Mike

    The P.T. Barnum reference was probably the most appropriate in the article. Beck, Colbert, & Stewart are all clowns. Add OReilly to that group, and just have all four repeatedly hit each other with pies in the face until they suffocate under a mountain of pie filling. The resulting silence would be a welcome change.

    September 18, 2010 at 4:13 am | Report abuse |
  8. termlimits


    September 18, 2010 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
  9. peter

    i do =)

    September 18, 2010 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Sarah


    September 19, 2010 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mark

    Wouldn't it be great if you talking more about the POINT of this rally? While the rally is based in satire, the POINT is that we should be talking about the 80% of Americans who can't stand what CNN and other news agencies are talking about. You represent and give credence to the 10-20% of people who are bat s crazy. But, we can't want to talk about that, would we?? Journalistic integrity? Hmmm?

    September 19, 2010 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mark

    @ Mike – Um Beck O'Reilly are clowns. John and Colbert are comedians. It is their job to be clowns.

    September 19, 2010 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
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