Capitol Steps bring bipartisan belly laughs to Sunset Center.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Think Beach Blanket Babylon, but trade ginormous intricate hats for some good wholesome political skewering and voilà: Capitol Steps.
For newcomers, this keyboard-backed five-member cast tours the country sharing their brand of political satire. They also have a permanent show every Friday and Saturday in Washington, D.C.
Formed in 1981 when three Senate staffers were planning Christmas party entertainment, The Capitol Steps offered a comically witty alternative to uptight Reaganomics peddlers and washed out lefty liberals. For good reason, poking fun at politicians while sometimes breaking into song and dance seemed funny, and the act stuck.
Some 30 years later, The Capitol Steps have recorded dozens of albums – including their latest, Liberal Shop of Horrors and Barackin’ Around the Christmas Tree – and have appeared on Good Morning America, the Today Show, 20/20, Entertainment Tonight, Nightline, CNN’s Inside Politics, and National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. They’ve even performed for five U.S. presidents. Their methods – crafting song parodies and skits from contemporaneous headlines – set the stage for satirical humor that is as popular in middle America as it is in the nation’s capital.
Nowhere else can one find impersonators parodying Bob Dylan, Michael Jackson and Susan Boyle while singing along with a Somali pirate to a satirical version of “We Are the World” in an effort to raise funds for the pirates.
Other acts feature tea-partiers singing against health-care reform (“Glory, glory, paranoia”); a dancing Vladimir Putin harmonizing “A Midnight Raid to Georgia”; auto execs singing for the bailout (“What will it take to put you in one of these little bailouts today?”); and dancing Supreme Court justices crooning about the aging court (“Our legal briefs are now Depends”).
No politico is off limits and, as evidenced by the longevity of the act, while the spirit of bipartisanship may be on life support in D.C. and Sacto, their equal opportunity humor is alive and well with The Capitol Steps.
While not all of the current members of The Capitol Steps are former Capitol Hill staffers, the performers have worked in a total of 18 Congressional offices and represent 62 years of collective House and Senate staff experience all told. As a result, they know just enough about inside D.C. to make fun from the outside.
For those 831ers who can’t make Monday’s show at Carmel’s Sunset Center, their radio special, “Politics Takes a Holiday,” is broadcast nationally live on New Year’s Day, April Fool’s Day, the Fourth of July and Halloween on public radio and locally on KAZU 90.3 FM. But the real fun comes from seeing their live act replete with costumes, wigs, dancing and other visual treats that are lost over radio waves.
Of course, politics can be painfully funny without The Capitol Steps – take Meg Whitman’s stance on illegal immigration that she took even as she failed to spot an illegal immigrant living in her home for nine years, or Jerry Brown’s bumbling use of such technologically-challenging items as… a telephone, as in his conversation with an aide who referred to Whitman as a whore. But it’s a lot more enjoyable with them.