Allaina Kilby (Cardiff University) – Satire for Sanity: An examination of media representation & audience engagement with The Daily Show’s Rally to Restore Sanity

Wednesday 13th April
4pm – ARMB.3.38

This talk is hosted by The Critical Discourse Group

In 2010 late night satire hosts, Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart held the ‘Rally to Restore Sanity’ on the Washington Mall. This was a unique and ambiguous event because it fell outside of the normative boundaries of both host’s successful television platforms. Furthermore, speculation was rife regarding the intentions of the event. Characterisations ranged from it being an activism platform for civil political discourse, a political advocacy rally to encourage support for the Democrats to it simply being a comedy/music event with no ties to politics. After the event, its intentions and peoples motivations for attending were still unclear. The vagueness and intrigue that surrounded the rally was the primary motivation for this study. To provide a comprehensive analysis ethnography, audience interviews and media content and framing analysis were used to study the ‘Rally to Restore Sanity’. Incorporating this multi-method approach allowed me to examine the way the news media and rallygoers viewed the intentions of the events and its effectiveness. Furthermore, audience research provided greater insight into the type of people that engage with political satire platforms and their political participatory habits.