The Capitol Steps - Make America Grin Again
The political satire troupe Capitol Steps was founded in 1981 by a group of staffers for Senator Charles Percy planning entertainment for a Christmas party. As they tell it, the first idea was for a nativity play, but in the whole Congress, they couldn’t find three wise men or a virgin. They said it; please direct all hate mail to them. They created song parodies and skits about what was going on around them. As they have grown, they have remained relentlessly nonpartisan as they skewer the bombastic, the outrageous and the just-plain-silly. Staples on NPR, they have recorded more than 30 albums, including their latest, Orange is the New Barack. The group is based in Washington, where ridiculousness falls like the gentle rain from Heaven, but they’re not fools and they always make it to The Lyric Theatre in January.
For Elaina Newport, a founding member of the troupe, Florida is the gift that keeps on giving. From chads that hang, to politicians behaving indiscreetly, to the feeling at each election that it’s the first Florida has ever held and we will get it right someday, Florida is a great source of material.
In 2007, she predicted the 2008 race pitting Clinton against Giuliani. That was wrong but it doesn’t matter, because to the Capitol Steps, whatever the situation is, they mine it for humor. For Clinton, there may be a song to the Pointer Sisters’ “I’m So Excited,” but in the hands of the Capitol Steps, it’s “I’m Not Indicted.” They may do a play on little hands or bad hair. It’s hard to tell the political persuasion of the audience because everyone is howling. American politicians are not the only fodder: the Russian leader has his turn with “Putin on the Blitz.” No one is too elevated or important not to be taken down a peg or three.
Newport has always cited her own experiences as proof of the nonpartisan nature of the group. She worked for two Republican Senators, Charles Percy and Alphonse D’Amato, both of whom were defeated. She is married to a former Clinton appointee and considers herself an “extreme moderate.” You’ll consider the Capitol Steps extreme, too: extremely funny.