The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

What's Happening

November 3, 2011

Political satire | Acclaimed comedy troupe Capitol Steps coming to arts center

No one wants to be seen as a joke, but politicians are fair game for cast members of Capitol Steps.

It won’t be politics as usual when the acclaimed comedy troupe performs at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 18 at Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, 450 Schoolhouse Road, Richland Township.

Members of Capitol Steps are marking their 30th anniversary by touring in support of their latest album, “Desperate Housemembers.”

The troupe presents the lighter side of politics in a verbal machine-gun style that spoofs politicians and social issues of the day.

Elaina Newport, a founding member of Capitol Steps, said their material changes as the political climate changes.

At times, performers literally are rewriting their skits backstage to reflect what happened that day.

“The night after Muammar Gaddafi was captured and killed, we were onstage the next night in a skit showing him trying to check in with the devil,”  Newport said.

“We did a quick turnaround when the Navy Seals took out Osama bin Laden.”

The troupe came up with a parody titled “Under the Sea,” signifying the world’s No. 1 terrorist’s watery burial from a Naval ship.

No matter what party or person holds office, there is never a shortage of material to create topical satire and comedy sketches, spoofing politicians and pundits.

Capitol Steps began as a group of Senate staffers who set out to satirize the very people and places that employed them.

Not all of the current members of the Steps are former Capitol Hill staffers, but taken together the performers have worked in a total of 18 Congressional offices and represent 62 years of collective House and Senate staff experiences.

Newport worked for seven years on Capitol Hill as a legislative assistant to Sen. Charles Percy and then, after his untimely defeat, for Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, who was also defeated.

Although Newport has worked for two Republicans, she considers herself to be an extreme moderate.

The group keeps the show current and chooses material that has been in the headlines, such as the occupation of Wall Street.

“Our material is constantly evolving,” Newport said.

“With a congressional approval rating standing at only 9 percent, we have come up with a diddy titled ‘Super Debt Committee’ to the tune of ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.’ ”

During a 90-minute show, there might be 30 different song parodies or skits.

Capitol Steps has recorded more than 30 albums, including their special holiday release, “Barackin’ Around the Christmas Tree.”

They also spearheaded a campaign to have Joe Biden appear in public much more frequently (for comedy purposes) in “You Can’t Hide This Biden Guy.” 

They pride themselves for being equal opportunity bashers.

Both sides of the aisle are fair game, including the current crop of Republican presidential hopefuls, from Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann to Rick Perry and Mitt Romney.

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

Tickets are from $28 to $35.

Showtime

Who: Political satirists Capitol Steps.

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

When: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 18.

Tickets: At box office or call (800) 846-2787, 269-7200 or visit www.upjarts.org.

Cost: $28 and $35.

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