The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

What's Happening

November 13, 2012

Mocking democracy | Capitol Steps, a humor troupe, coming to Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center

JOHNSTOWN — No matter if your politics lean toward the left or right, blue or red, every politician is fair game to the Capitol Steps.

The acclaimed humor troupe will perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, 450 Schoolhouse Road, Richland Township.

The show is a free-for-all that takes aim at the hot topics of the current political landscape.

The troupe pokes fun at everyone in politics by digging into the headlines of the day and creating song parodies and skits, which convey a special brand of satirical humor.

Mark Eaton, a co-writer and performer who joined Capitol Steps in 1993, said the audience should be prepared for bipartisan lampooning when the cast takes the stage.

“Some people may grumble about some of the things we do, but we have our fair share of Steps’ junkies,” Eaton said.

“A lot of folks have been coming faithfully to our shows for 20 years.”

People have to realize the Capitol Steps is a bipartisan, joke-spewing juggernaut.

“If something offends someone’s politics, we tell them to wait a few seconds because we will be taking swings at the other side next,” Eaton said.

They are “equal opportunity bashers.”

The group was born in December 1981 when some staffers for Sen. Charles Percy were planning entertainment for a Christmas party. Their first idea was to stage a nativity play, but in the whole Congress, they   couldn’t find wise men or a virgin.

The staffers set out to satirize the very people and places that employed them.

Eaton joined Capitol Steps in 1993. He said the troupe’s material changes with the political climate.

“What folks will see in Johnstown will be somewhat of a postmortem of the election,” he said.

“But unless something drastic happens on Election Day, the script will remain much the same as it is now.”

Most of the performance follows a precise script, but ad-libs often producing some of the show’s funniest moments.

“There’s always enough leeway in a script to allow for some improvisation, particularly if a controversial issue occurs,” Eaton said.

Members of the Capitol Steps are touring in support of their latest album, “Take the Money and Run – for President.”

Eaton said the performance will feature five cast members, a pianist and “one guy in the back doing the heavy lifting.”

“People always say that the cast seems much larger, but we get a lot of mileage out of wild wigs and cheesy mustaches,” he said.

One political figure that gets a huge reaction from audiences is former president Bill Clinton.

Another staple of the show is a segment titled “Lirty Dies.”

“Lirty Dies” are twisted spoonerisms, where the order of the sounds is mixed up.

They know that no matter who holds office, there will never be a shortage of material.

“Joe Biden has been a great source of material for years,” Eaton said.

The material is updated constantly.

But no matter who or what is in the headlines, Capitol Steps will tackle both sides of the political spectrum and all things equally foolish. They are the group who puts the “mock” in democracy.

Since they began, the Capitol Steps recorded more than 30 albums, including “Take the Money and Run – for President.”

They’ve been featured on NBC, CBS, ABC and PBS, and can be heard four times a year on National Public Radio stations nationwide.

Tickets are available at the arts center box office, by calling (800) 846-2787 or 269-7200, or by logging onto www.upjarts.com.

Tickets are $28 and $35.

Onstage

What: Capitol Steps.

Where: Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, 450 Schoolhouse Road, Richland Township.

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Tickets: Available from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays at the box office or by calling 269-7200, (800) 846-2787 or visist www.upjarts.org.

Cost: $28 and $35.

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