Capitol Steps, satirists return to Stuart

Thursday, January 23, 2014

By Shelley Koppel
Staff writer
STUART – In 1981, a bipartisan group of Congressional staffers formed a troupe of singing satirists.  They called themselves the Capitol Steps, after a scandal of the day.

Rita Jenrette, then-wife of former Congressman John Jenrette, said that the couple had “made love” on the steps of the Capitol. Recently, the former Mrs. Jenrette, now the Principessa Rita Boncampagni Luvodisi, has denied the claim.

That does not dismay Elaina Newport, a founding member of the group. They will make a return visit to the Lyric Theatre Jan. 27, despite the challenge to their very name.

“The legend lives on,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of politicians and public figures deny a lot of things. That didn’t stop us from writing songs about it. You never know how long a scandal will live on. Ten years from now, Anthony Weiner will still be funny. When I look over our last song (in the show), which is our 30 years in three minutes, you can’t make this stuff up.”

Newport said they’re having fun now with the mayor of Toronto, who has defended his behavior by saying he was in a drunken stupor.

"I bet a lot of politicians wish they’d thought of it, like Bill Clinton hitting on Paula Jones or John McCain picking Sarah Palin,” she said.

This year’s show takes pokes at Obamacare, with the song, “I Don’t Know How to Log In.”  It’s one of those issues that pulls Newport in two direction.

“It’s one of our favorites,” she said. “Hopefully, the site will have just enough problems, but I want people to have good health care.  I (just) want to keep the song.”

Another hot topic is Amazon having drones deliver packages. While singing “Everybody Must Get Droned,” Newport promises there may be drones flying across the stage.

“I can’t promise where they’ll land,” she said.

Newport said that social media has made everything public very quickly.

“Who knows who’s going to tweet what next?” she said.  “Three years ago, we wouldn’t have talked about it. I’m sure Gary Hart (whose extramarital affair sank his 1988 presidential hopes,) thinks, ‘Mine was just a normal affair.’ Now, it would have to be some kind of animal.”

Newport noted that Congressional approval ratings are less than 10 percent. She wonders who the few who do approve are.   “Are they relatives?” she asked. “If Congress has an approval of nine percent and gay marriage approval is over 50 percent, maybe (Mitch) McConnell and (Harry) Reid have a meeting and decide to get married.  We call it “My Gay.”

The 2014 midterm elections are coming up and a number of Republican senators have primary challenges from the right.  “How far will senators have to go to the right?” she asked. “Is it someone willing to let us default or someone willing to pave over the Arctic Wildlife Refuge to put up a Nativity scene with Sarah Palin as the Virgin Mary?”

Newport said that when the dust has settled after the elections, things won’t be very different. 
“My guess is that everyone holds their noses and votes for the incumbents,” she said. “Everyone else is terrible, but their guy is okay. My guess is not too much changes.  It’s not good for the country, but ti’s good for comedy and the Capitol Steps.”

Finally, Newport said that the group is very happy to return to Florida. The weather is only part of the reason.    “We’re always grateful to the people of Florida for providing us with good material,” she said.
With a gubernatorial race ahead and hanging chads behind, some things never change.
The Capitol Steps come to the Lyric Theatre, 59 S.W. Flagler Ave., Stuart, Jan. 27 at 6 and 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $48.  Call the box office at (772) 286-7827 or order online at