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Jessica Alba, Judd Apatow, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jane Fonda, Natalie Portman, Chelsea Handler, Lil Rel Howery, Chelsea Handler, Charlize Theron, Adam Devine, Whitney Cummings, Connie Britton, Alyssa Milano, Nina Dobrev, Sophia Bush, Lily Collins, Sean Hayes, Justin Theroux, Zoe Lister-Jones, Kevin Smith and Nick Kroll are just a few of the stars that came together for the Telethon for America on Monday. The initiative promotes voting ahead of the midterm elections.
In addition to encouraging viewers to vote, the telethon featured live comedic and musical performances.
The event was strictly non-partisan. A number of the stars involved spent the telethon making calls to voters and asking fans about their plans to vote. Some stars also took to the stage to make short speeches that encouraged voters to show up to the polls on Tuesday.
Portman spoke about the importance of voting and pointed out women haven’t been able to vote for even 100 years. “As citizens, it is our duty to our country, communities, family and most importantly to ourselves to exercise our right to vote,” said the actress. “This is not a right to be taken for granted. Did you know that women in America have been voting for less than 100 years?”
Handler said that white men should consider others when voting. She pointed out that many people fought and died for the right to vote. “I don’t know how many people, but I know there were a lot and people died and when that happens, we have to look around at our own lives and pay it forward,” said the comedian and TV personality. “We owe those people who fought for us. We owe them with our votes. And if you’re a white male who’s always had the right to vote, then I hope you vote for all the people who didn’t have the right to vote.”
Fonda also took to the stage to discuss the importance of choices. After listing choices viewers make on a daily basis, like the clothes they wear and the music they listen to, the actress and activist said, “All of these choices create the person that you are.” She continued, “What we choose to wear just affects a little part of our lives, but elections, and what we choose to do on elections — whether we choose to vote or not — can make an effect on your life for generations to come, so let’s do it.”
Jackie Tohn performed an original song to encourage voting. Accompanied by her guitar, she sang, “Election Day is on the 6th, shit that’s tomorrow/ When you do your civic duty, yo, nothing feels sicker/ If you’re not gonna do it for yourself, then do it for the sticker/ I cast my vote, I cast my vote, I cast it, hot damn/ Now I can gloat, now I can gloat on Instagram.”
After being introduced as the former president, Veep‘s Louis-Dreyfus appeared in a prerecorded video. The actress encouraged voters to “bring your friends, bring your enemies, bring your frenemies with you.”
Milano also filmed a prerecorded message that aired during the show. “I guess you know already that I’m kind of known for showing up in random places,” she joked. “I’m gonna make you a promise. If you don’t vote in this election, I promise you that I will show up behind you at your local coffee shop, your parent-teachers conference. I’m gonna be there, and while you’re brushing your teeth at night. I’ve done it before and I can do it again.”
Comedians Bill Bellamy and Loni Love put on a short performance of a voting experience gone wrong. Bellamy played himself, while Love portrayed an employee that tried to keep him from voting. They explained that the Election Protection Hotline will be available to help anyone that is denied their right to vote during Tuesday’s election.
J. Chris Newberg also performed an original song about voting during the telethon. “Don’t vote, don’t do nothing/ Just sit and watch the news/ When your friends have political discussions/ You can sit there and stew/ ‘Cause you didn’t vote/ You did zero/ So as far as I’m concerned/ Shut the fuck up,” the comedian sang. The performance concluded with Newberg leading the crowd as they repeatedly sang the line “Shut the fuck up” in unison.
Pete Davidson is another star that recorded a video for the telethon. After encouraging viewers to vote, he joked, “I didn’t read the email, I was just told to do this. I heard it would look good for my image.”
While most of the stars kept their speeches non-partisan, some did make subtle jabs at the current administration. Comedian Ben Morrison sat in the audience in character as a Russian hacker trying to get access to the event. “If you don’t vote, the Russians might continue to infiltrate our democracy,” he said after revealing his true identity.
After explaining that it is easy and quick to vote, Ike Barinholtz used humorous scare tactics to encourage voting. “If you don’t go out there and vote, there’s a very good chance things are gonna get worse and society will crumble and we will be left in a wasteland relying on Mad Max and Furiosa to guide us through the Fury Road,” he said.
Comedian Ben Gleib created the event, which live-streamed on YouTube, Facebook Live and Comedy Central Online. The telethon was also available to watch on the performers’ social media accounts, which featured a live stream through Transmit Live. Olivia Munn hosted the telethon alongside Gleib.
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