STORY WRITTEN BY TARA LYNN JOHNSON
For Digital First Media
If the presidential race makes you want to cry, Capitol Steps thinks you should give them a try. They’ll try to turn those tears into laughter when they take the Sellersville Theater stage for two shows on Aug. 8.
For more than 30 years, the satirical group has put the “mock” in democracy, they say. With politics changing, the shows change, too, and are always “fresh and crispy, right from the headlines.”
Capitol Steps began in 1981 when a group of Senate staffers decided to become the entertainment for a senator’s holiday party. For more than three decades, they’ve written song parodies and skits, all with the aim of making people laugh about the state of our political system and the people in it. They’ve recorded more than 30 albums, including their latest, “Mock the Vote.” They’ve been featured on national TV stations and on National Public Radio. They tour the country and are looking forward to returning to Pennsylvania and the Sellersville Theater.
Elaina Newport, who’s originally from Upper Darby, is a founding member of Capitol Steps. She worked for seven years on Capitol Hill as a Legislative Assistant to two senators. Now, she writes material for and performs with the group (however, she won’t be at the Sellersville show).
She was disappointed when told during a recent telephone interview that Republican candidate number 16, John Kasich, had joined the gaggle of people seeking that party’s nomination for president.
“We don’t like him,” she said. “His name rhymes with nothing.”
Other candidates’ names are more easily rhymed. Who are all of the candidates? Capitol Steps wonders, too, in their song “76 Unknowns” (to the melody of the show tune “76 Trombones”).
“We’ll probably end up with 76 by the time primary season starts,” she said.
The country also could end up with another Bush versus Clinton election, which Newport and the group wouldn’t mind.
“We could use our signs from 1992,” she said. “Recycling. Very environmental.”
She’s happy that Jeb Bush running means the group can mention George W. Bush again and Hillary Clinton running means Bill Clinton is fair game again. Chris Christie was going to be “the one who shot from the hip, but now he’s being outdone,” she said, by Donald Trump, who’s keeping himself front and center in the news cycle with his comments. Other democrats and republicans are included in the show, too — Capitol Steps is bipartisan in its mockery.
The group doesn’t care who runs — it just cares about its audience, she said. In addition to presidential politics, the troupe satirizes things in the news, like the Apple Watch. They also poke fun at world leaders, like Vladimir Putin, who appears on stage shirtless (of course). Even the Pope is fair game.
“We hear he’s going to speak to Congress,” she said of his fall visit to the U.S. “We hope he doesn’t stay to hear confessions or he’ll never get out.”
If people want to laugh at the news of the day, and especially at presidential politics, Newport promises a good time and some unexpected positive consequences for those in attendance.
“If you don’t laugh at these guys, you’ll end up throwing a shoe at the TV and breaking it,” she said. “It’s a lot cheaper to come to the show.”
IF YOU GO
What: Capitol Steps
When: Shows are at 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 8.
Where: Sellersville Theatre, 24 W. Temple Ave., Sellersville.
Tickets: $39.50 and $50
Info.: Call (215) 257-5808 or check www.st94.com. For more on Capitol Steps, check www.capsteps.com.
More: Capitol Steps returns to the region on Dec. 4 for a 7:30 p.m. performance at Miller Center for the Arts at Reading Area Community College, 4 N. Second St., Reading. For information, check www.racc.edu/MillerCenter or call (610) 607-6270.