Named after a famous sex scandal involving a US Congressman, the Capitol Steps, is a political satire group. Presently, they are a 26 member group with five pianists. They have to their credit over 30 albums, consisting of song parodies. Initially, the group consisted only of Congressional staffers, but now they have professional actors and singers as group members. They are also the recipients of 2005 Washington Post Best Bets Readers’ Choice Award for Best Live Theatre. In 2006, they won WUSA A-List for Best Comedy Club and in 2009, they received WAMA Cabaret/Musical Theatre Artist Award.
The troupe came into being in 1981, during the presidency of Ronald Regan. Three Congressional staffers, Jim Aidala, Elaina Newport and Bill Strauss, all Republicans, used to sing song parodies about current events, in their spare time. Later, they were joined by Dave Nichols, Barbie Granzow, and Nancy Baskin, all Republican staffers again. The band of six decided to showcase their talents in the form of a Christmas show as their debut performance. They decided to call themselves, Capitol Steps, a famous sex scandal involving a Congressman having sex with his wife on the stairs of Capital Hill, in 1980. Their debut performance was on December, 11, 1981, for the Foreign Relations Committee’s Christmas party, and was a success. This prompted them to put on several more shows. By 1982, as the troupe’s popularity grew, so did its numbers, this time around involving Democratic staffers as well.
In 1983, they were invited by Shoreham Hotel, to perform on monthly basis. These performances also opened them up for publicity. They received positive review from the Washington Post, earning them even more fans and critics. It was only in 1984, that the group decided to become professional. They recorded Capitol Steps Live: At The Shoreham, their debut album in 1984, as well.
In 1987, the group after quitting their Congressional jobs, started to perform on full-time basis. Already becoming increasingly popular, it took them only one more year to become talk of the town and to earn an invitation from the White House. In 1988, Capitol Steps performed in front of who-is-who of the nation’s capital, including President Ronald Reagan. It is said that Reagan made a special request to the troupe to specifically make fun of his personality and he was duly obliged. Regan reportedly was overjoyed. The group was further invited by Reagan’s successor, President George Bush Sr., on several occasions. During that era, the group zeroed in on Vice President Dan Quayle and made fun of his misspelling of ‘potato’.
During the Clinton years, it could be easily assumed that the Lewinsky scandal was a God sent for the troupe. But even before the infamous scandal, the group had satirized Joycelyn Elders, Clinton’s Surgeon General, who was of the opinion that masturbation could be a part of sex education curriculum.
Clinton’s successor, George W. Bush often grabbed the group’s attention, especially when it was alleged that he possessed inferior intellect. They also made fun of Bush’s other team members, like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. However, the group’s focus changed after the tragedy of September 11, 2001, and they moved on to other personalities and subjects like the French President Jacques Chirac and British Prime Minister Tony Blair. They also made fun of Arab terrorists, Hans Blix, Saddam Hussain same-sex marriages, Arnold Schwarzenegger and much more.
The group is on air four times a year on NPR’s Politics Takes a Holiday radio specials. They have also been on PBS, ABC, CBS and NBC. They have released over 30 albums, with Desperate Housemembers being the latest. Other albums are, Liberal Shop of Horrors, Barackin’ Around the Christmas Tree, Obama Mia!, and plenty others.
An average evening with the Capitol Steps is full of laughter and joy. They present parodies of famous old songs along with short skits. So, while you are being entertained, you are being informed of latest political news, developments and gossip, too! The group does comedy like no other. They have made the presidents laugh out aloud. They would certainly do the same to you! So buy your Capitol Steps Tickets now!
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