Friday, December 16, 2016

St. Lucie Voice, Dec. 16, 2016
By Shelley Koppel, Staff writer

The next four years will be prime time for the Capitol Steps. The satirical troupe got its start some 35 years ago, when a group of Senate staffers put together a series of skits and parodies for Sen. Charley Percy’s Christmas party. The Steps, which skewer Republicans and Democrats alike in song, have made many recordings. One, “How to Succeed in Congress without Really Lying,” should be required reading for members of that austere body.
Elaina Newport is a founding member of the troupe and we have talked politics for some 10 years. I well remember our brilliant predictions for the 2008 election, in which Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani would vie for the White House. Undeterred by getting that one completely wrong, we tried again last year when there were 17 Republican candidates. Yet again, we picked the wrong one.

Still, it’s fun to talk politics and as this year has not always seemed that funny, Elaina seemed the right person to call to put things in their proper perspective. The group will be at the Lyric Theatre Jan. 4 for two shows, and she spoke about the show, “What to Expect When You’re Electing,” and about how President-elect Donald Trump affects the comedy landscape.

“Sometimes we have a tough job,” but maybe (the comedy) is even more important,” she said. “We thought he was doing it as a joke. It’s like the end of the movie, ‘The Candidate,’ when he says, ‘What do I do now?’ Our challenge for the next four years, or until he’s impeached, whichever comes first, is trying to be more outrageous than what he says. Comedy is based on exaggeration. How do you exaggerate some of the things he’s said?”

Newport said that since 2000, they’ve always had two shows prepared for the day after the election, especially if the race looks close.

“We had Bush won, Gore won and couldn’t do either, thank you Florida,” she said. “This time, we put more work into Hillary because she had an 80 percent chance of winning. We had to hit the ground running.”
I asked Newport if Melania Trump was fair game.

“Oh, sure,” she replied. “We have a song about how she doesn’t want to move to Washington. It’s a parody of ‘Green Acres.’ He doesn’t want to move to the White House, but it’s like Stephen Colbert said, part of the job description is being willing to relocate. We also have (Melania) giving an original speech about growing up as a poor black child in Chicago. We’re always testing our limits. One joke is about Donald Trump evicting a black family from the White House. I wasn’t sure (about it) but it’s obviously a joke.”

Of course, the Trumps are not the only people and events in the show. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, who is still in the Senate, are there and Newport warns there is nudity as Vladimir Putin dances shirtless. Still, skits and songs they have this week may seem dated by the time they get to Stuart, and new ones will be added.