OVER TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO, the Capitol Steps began as a group of Senate staffers who set out to satirize the very people and places that employed them. In the years that followed, many of the Steps ignored the conventional wisdom (“Don’t quit your day job!”), and although not all of the current members of the Steps are former Capitol Hill staffers, taken together the performers have worked in a total of eighteen Congressional offices and represent 62 years of collective House and Senate staff experience.
Since they began, the Capitol Steps have recorded over 30 albums, including their latest, Liberal Shop of Horrors and their special holiday release, Barackin’ Around the Christmas Tree. They’ve been featured on NBC, CBS, ABC, and PBS, and can be heard 4 times a year on National Public Radio stations nationwide during their Politics Takes a Holiday radio specials.
We were lucky enough to chat with one of the founding cast members, Elaina Newport, about the upcoming Capitol Steps appearance at Infinity Hall on Thursday, November 4th.
IH: This will be the first time that the Capitol Steps appear at Infinity Hall. For our patrons who haven’t seen one of your live shows before, what should they expect?
EN: It will be exciting! Our show is the only place where you’ll find Joe Biden in a rock song and Sarah Palin as a stand-up comedian. Each show includes 30 songs and skits mocking leaders from both sides of the aisle, all in good fun.
IH: You’re a founding member of the Capitol Steps. Just how exactly did a group of congressional staffers decide to form a comedy troupe satirizing your bosses?
EN: The year was 1981…so obviously I was extremely young! A zygote. I was working for Senator Charles Percy and a bunch of us Senate staffers were tapped to put on a skit for the Senate Christmas party. None of us expected it to go beyond that; in fact, we were pretty sure we’d be told to stop in the middle of the performance. That, or get fired.
IH: How did performing in the Steps become your full-time gig? Do any of the cast members still work on the Hill?
EN: When we didn’t all get fired, we took our act on the road. I worked as a Congressional aide for 7 years, but eventually they started noticing that I was gone an awful lot. Plus, the politicians I worked for kept losing. There’s one person in the cast who still works on Capitol Hill. Since she’s like to keep it that way, she doesn’t travel as much.
IH: So, becoming a full-time comedian actually improved your job stability?
EN: Our worst fear is that all the politicians will one day get quietly competent; then we’d be out of a job. Granted, it’s not a big fear.
IH: With mid-term elections coming up fast, is there a particular race or candidate that you find the most hilarious? How about here in Connecticut? The leader of the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) running for Senator, perhaps?
EN: Because we travel all over, we focus most of our material on national news. Our show isn’t partisan, our only criteria is “Who’s funnier?” That changes all the time. We write a new song every week. You’ll hear a line or two about local matters, and yes, that might be one of them. Since this show will happen right after the election, there’s sure to be fresh material. Who knows, we may be talking about Speaker Boehner. We’ll have to get one of our guys into a tanning booth…
Now, come on, you don’t want to miss that!
Thursday, November 4th • 8:00 PM
For show info and to buy your tickets now, visit infinityhall.com.