09.14.10

Colbert Fans Try Blackmail

The parody pundit’s followers have poured over $170,000 into his favorite charity since Monday, all to convince him to stage a D.C. rally for “Truthiness.”

Fans of Stephen Colbert are on a mission to convince him they're not joking around.

Over the past 24 hours, they've gathered on the freshly redesigned ColbertRally subsection of Reddit.com to bombard DonorsChoose.org, an education-focused fundraising site, with donations. Colbert happens to be on the national board of directors for DonorsChoose.org, and his followers hope that by opening their wallets and PayPal accounts to the charity, they'll effectively force the comedian's hand.

Their goal? To prove that they're serious about attending a “Rally for Truthiness”—a gathering on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to rival Glenn Beck’s recent “Rally to Restore Honor,” held there late last month.

It all started with this post, submitted on Reddit.com on Monday afternoon, which called for users to help raise money for teachers in need as "a fantastic show of strength."

Given Colbert’s soft spot for charity, it’s hard to imagine he won’t at least address their efforts.

“See, anyone can join a Reddit or Facebook group or sign a petition. It takes, like, one minute and doesn't demonstrate much effort,” wrote the organizers. “So the rally movement has been looking for ways to show that they're serious, that they're willing to lift a finger to make this happen. And an idea has just been hatched: pony up some cash to one of Stephen's favorite charities.”

As of 10 a.m. this morning, according to information provided by DonorsChoose.org, Colbert’s followers had already provided classroom supplies to over 25,000 students, funded 353 classroom projects posted by teachers, and become one of the site's top five self-organized campaigns of all time, giving the likes of Adam Lambert, Tim Ferriss (author of The 4-Hour Workweek), and three other campaigns by Stephen Colbert himself a run for their money.

The current impact at press time stands at $112,953 from 2,787 total donors—an average of $40 per donor.

Video screenshot


Colbert discusses the rally on The Colbert Report.

"We are absolutely amazed and blown away by the Reddit community’s support of DonorsChoose.org in the last 24 hours," said Katie Bisbee, senior vice president of marketing at DonorsChoose.org. "Our entire staff is seriously filled with wonder—we are watching the tally climb every few minutes. The Reddit community is a force to be reckoned with! We are so grateful for the amazing impact they are having on classrooms across our country. And we know the teachers and students they are supporting are going to be so excited to start off the school year with brand new learning materials."

When reached over email, Phillip, one of the Reddit organizers, added “We knew we would reach our goal but did not think we would do it in 19 hours!”

So is it working? Has the Comedy Central superstar taken notice? So far it’s unclear, but given Colbert’s soft spot for charity, it’s hard to imagine he won’t at least address their efforts.

Colbert apparently responded to the Reddit community on Tuesday evening. Click here to read his post.

Ever since Glenn Beck’s rally, Colbert and his counterpart, Jon Stewart, have been inundated with calls from their fans asking for a rally of their own. The two have mentioned the possibility of such a rally on the show, and a recent New York magazine profile of Jon Stewart mentioned a “possible Stewart-Colbert public event, a parody of Beck's 'Restoring Honor' rally.” TIME notes that should the Reddit community succeed, the rally would be held October 10.

The Daily Beast attempted to reach Mr. Colbert through both his manager and Comedy Central this morning, but has so far received no response. We’ll update should we hear back.

Brian Ries is a Philly-born senior editor at FREEwilliamsburg.com and tech and social media editor at The Daily Beast. He lives in Brooklyn.