Debra Messing, Rosario Dawson Make Final Voting Pleas at Telethon for America: "Our Voice Is Our Power"

Debra Messing - Getty - H 2020
Bruce Glikas/WireImage

Jennifer Lawrence, Monica Lewinsky and Alyssa Milano also joined the event, which was hampered by technical issues, on the eve of Election Day.

Debra Messing, Chelsea Handler, Joshua Jackson, Adam McKay, Eva Longoria and more stars gathered on Monday night to issue a last-minute plea for voters — hampered occasionally by tech issues — to turn out at the polls on Tuesday.

Those stars and others joined the second Telethon for America, hosted by Rosario Dawson and Ben Gleib and featuring live comedy as well as video banking and voter information. Organized by anticorruption nonprofit Represent.Us, the program aired TelethonForAmerica.com, Free Speech TV and Represent.Us' and participating stars' social media platforms.

Kenan Thompson, Jay Ellis, Busy Philipps and Alyssa Milano also took part in the event, which invited some viewers who pledged to vote on Nov. 3rd to join the show and speak with some of their favorite participants.

The event kicked off with some introductions of its "celebrity video bank" participants, including Messing (wearing a Biden shirt), Monica Lewinsky, Milano, Sophia Bush (who brought marine biologist Ayana Elizabeth Johnson with her), Josh Gad, Ricki Lake and others. "This is the most chaotic Zoom I've been on since Yom Kippur with my family," Gad said as participants initially talked over one another, words that were prescient, given the technical issues that ensued.

The first pre-taped segment featured Handler, but it was nearly impossible to hear her because the celebrity video bank Zoom audio continued to play over the pre-taped segment. The audio issue continued as Kenan Thompson appeared in the next pre-taped segment saying, "This is a very, very, very critical time in our country. I think everybody knows by now that their vote is critical and it's your right as an American citizen and so I think you should take that right and vote," he said.

Jennifer Lawrence appeared in a strongly worded segment expressing Represent.Us' policies: "If you're anything like me, you may find yourself constantly overwhelmed by everything that's wrong with American politics," Lawrence said in the video. "I know it's hard to talk about politics these days, but look, the government is ours; it needs to work for us." To fix the "total political system failure in America," Lawrence suggested Represent.Us policies including ending gerrymandering and implementing ranked-choice voting and automatic voter registration, among other solutions.

Mike Birbiglia then joined to offer a comedic interlude: "My observation of this video so far is I am not sure what is being broadcast and what is not," he said. He joked that while many comedians have been working on jokes during COVID-19, he has been working on a vaccine, which is "two parts French toast, one part maple syrup."

He added, "My main message if you're watching is about voting. The reason you should vote is because there's a thing called Pizza to the Polls... I love pizza, I like am physically drawn to pizza. It's almost sexual."

Gleib then introduced a segment called "I Have Issues with Debra Messing," but Messing did not appear onscreen and some stars on the call suggested that she may have already left the call. "She's had issues, what are you going to say?" Dawson joked.

Later, she rejoined the Zoom to discuss several bills that a non-Republican-majority Senate could pass. "Our voice is our power and what we can do tomorrow is really, really exciting," Messing said. "There are 11 bills that the House passed that are still sitting on McConnell's desk, just not being addressed and brought up for a vote. If we get four more senators, four, then we can pass them." Those votes included HR 5, the Equality Act, and HR 7, the Paycheck Fairness Act, among others.

Technical issues also hampered Darrell Hammond's comedic monologue: As he was performing his bit, Adam McKay's pre-taped segment interrupted it. McKay's speech, however, was also overlaid with audio from Handler's segment, as well as Dawson speaking about the 2018 elections. Later videos  from Ty Burrell and Alec Baldwin also featured rogue audio from outside their pre-taped segments.

In her pre-taped segment, Longoria talked about forming a coalition of Latina women who are politically active, She Se Puede, "and we want you to join us by having your voice heard at the voting booth." Joshua Jackson, for his part, addressed viewers on voting for the climate: "Your vote tomorrow is a vote to get us back into the Paris Accord... but really what your vote is is to bring American leadership back to the planet, because the planet doesn't have four years to wait."

And Bob Odenkirk implored viewers to vote Trump out of office, joking about his Twitter habits: "I think the greatest achievement we can get out of this election, and you will probably think I'm joking, is so we don't have a president who is tweeting angry commentary throughout the night," he said.

Later, in a conversation with Dawson, Kerry Washington encouraged voters to implore their superpowers because, she said, "for democracy to work, we all have to engage." "It takes so many kinds of engagement to create change. I love that so many of us are marching and now we have to vote according to those values. We need all kinds of pressure to hold our systems accountable."

Watch the telethon below.