Despite alleged intense spying on its own citizens, it’s still safe to make fun of the government. The Capitol Steps, a musical comedy troupe from Washington, D.C, have been doing it since 1981.
“If you ever wanted to see Joe Biden sing a rock song, Barack Obama sing a show tune or Chris Christie do a classical ballet this is your show,” said Elaina Newport, founding member and writer of the group.
The troupe combines wittiness and silliness as they take jabs at national and world leaders via skits and song parodies.
They’re gearing up for their fifth appearance in El Paso thanks to local organization Impact|Programs of Excellence. The performance will happen on Oct. 16 at Coronado High School’s state of the art Lee Ross Capshaw Auditorium.
“We think they’re quite brilliant and the music is outstanding,” said Sally Gilbert, program director of Programs of Excellence. “I think it’s important for us to sometimes see the other side through humor so we can begin to think about the issues perhaps in a different way.”
The Capitol Steps took flight at a 1981 Christmas Party held by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The original members, who were all Senate staffers at the time, were the entertainment for the gathering, and their brand of bi-partisan political comedy caught on.
“We thought we would do it just once and then somebody would tell us to stop and go back to work,” Newport said. “But it turned out that the politicians kind of liked it – they invited us to perform, we kept going and now it’s been 33 years this December.”
The troupe has released an album a year since their inception, including this year’s “How to Succeed in Congress Without Really Lying,” and regularly tour across the country. They have performed at the White House multiple times and have a year round gig every Friday and Saturday at Washington, DC’s Ronald Reagan International Trade Center.
Newport said the Steps are constantly writing new material since the political climate is always changing. She said they’re excited for the upcoming primary season, because it’s rife with easy targets.
“Last time, it was incredible busy,” Newport said. “Rick Perry was a great source of material.”
She did say some subjects are hard to write material for, but the people in charge always make it easier.
“Usually, even in the most serious situation, you have a politician that’s messing it up,” Newport said. “With Katrina we made fun of FEMA, with wars you look at the political bickering that’s going on.”
The recent rise of terrorist organization ISIS has inspired a new song in the show called “Stuck in the Middle East,” to the tune of Stealer Wheel’s classic song “Stuck in the Middle.” It’s a duet that features President Obama asking Former President Bush for advice on the latest Middle East crisis.
“The party in power is always the funniest,” Newport said. “So if you come to our show right now it might seem like we get the Democrats a little harder, but if you had come to the show under the George Bush administration you would have felt that we were getting the Republicans pretty good.”
The Capitol Steps have made keeping their material relatable to everyone, not just political buffs, so attendees can expect a night of laughter and a singing shirtless Vladimir Putin.
“We decided very early on that we really could not do a song about ‘John McCain’s Bill of Regulatory Reform’– nobody would care,” Newport said. “We instead decided we were going for the major headlines. That’s kind of a fun way to do it, you look at the politicians and their idiosyncrasies and you make fun of those.”
The Capitol Steps
Coronado High School’s Lee Ross Capshaw Auditorium
100 Champions Place
Thursday, Oct. 16, 7 p.m.
Tickets: $50, $35 and $25, or $15 with student or military ID
Tickets available at the door or in advance by calling 915 545 5068.