By Mary Versa Clemens-Sewall
Comedy is often a way to escape reality. We go to a comedic show when the world weighs us down, and we need some way to take it off our shoulders, if only for an hour or two.
But the Capitol Steps has a different take on comedy. The comedy troupe sets its skits squarely in the present. The purpose of a Capitol Steps performance is to bring out the humor in everyday circumstances, namely politics. In doing so, the show leaves us with more than a temporary grin; it teaches us to find laughs all around us.
The show was dominated by a series of skits caricaturing political figures. Five actors appeared on stage at the Hop, Thursday, October 27, each playing a variety of different characters. The actors made each role so specific, however, that they likely convinced the audience that there were more than five performers that night. For instance, few could have guessed until the curtain call that the same actor played Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, and Chris Christie!
Most skits began with spoken lines yet soon gave way to goofy song parodies and dance moves to match. The songs that the actors parodied included hits from the ’70s to today. For instance, characters Barack Obama and George W. Bush sang Stuck in the Middle East Too, a spoof on Stuck in the Middle with You, a Stealers Wheel hit from 1972, while Obama later joined Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden to sing All about that Base, based off Meghan Trainor’s 2014 hit, All about that Bass. Again, the breadth of performance material kept the audience engaged and entertained.
Having caught the audience’s attention through their musical skits, the Capitol Steps gave the audience their greatest gift—a humorous lens to apply to politics—near the end of the show. They taught the audience to reinterpret political commentary using spoonerisms; they switched the first letters of nearby words, yielding a much funnier (and, arguably, more accurate) description of politicians. For example, they changed the observation that George W. Bush is “not the smartest feller in the world” to the remark that he is “not the fartest smeller in the world.” Similarly, the frequency of presidential elections (four years) became “your fears.” And they stated that most of Vermont’s “copulation is pows!”
The Capitol Steps gave the audience both a stellar comedy performance and a comedic lens to use to interpret politicians and their commentators. The show left the audience laughing and ready to find comedy in their own world.
About Mary Versa
I’m from Pittsburgh, PA. For middle and high school, I was a musical theater major at a public arts magnet school. I have never been able to decide whether I like singing, dancing, or acting most. At Dartmouth, I dance in the Dartmouth Dance Ensemble and sing in a choir at a nearby church. I enjoy rehearsing, performing, and experiencing live art—there’s nothing like it!