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Release: Oct. 8, 1999

Capitol Steps bring political song parodies to UI Hancher Oct. 28-29

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Capitol Steps, whose political song parodies keep the electorate in stitches and Washington officials watching their backsides, will perform at 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Oct. 28 and 29 in Hancher Auditorium on the University of Iowa campus.

Anyone puzzled about the perennial success of the Capitol Steps might consider this: most comedy groups' material is produced by a small roster of writers. The Capitol Steps satirical song parodies, on the other hand, derive from the largest comedy-writing team you could imagine. It includes Congress, the President, the Supreme Court and just about every other public figure in Washington. Hence, their claim to be "the only group in Washington that attempts to be funnier than the Congress."

The result has been an inexhaustible supply of sharp-stick silliness that has kept audiences entertained for almost two decades through live performances, radio and TV broadcasts and nearly 20 recordings. The Capitol Steps humor is so pointed and on-target that former President George Bush commented, "The Capitol Steps make it easier to leave public life."

No one can predict the bill of fare when the Capitol Steps return to Hancher, because no one can predict what new scandal may provide fodder for up-to-the-minute puns and pokes in the ribs. But chances are they will offer some of the tunes from their recent CD, "First Lady and the Tramp." Some of the selections on that recording are: "On the Dole Again (with Viagra)," "Why Must I Be the Millennium Bug?" "Birds Do It (but technically it isn't sex)," and "Jesse the Body vs. Saddam I Am."

The Capitol Steps was formed in 1981 when three staffers for Sen. Charles Percy were asked to provide entertainment for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Christmas party. As the legend goes, they first considered staging a traditional nativity play, but in all of Congress they were unable to find three wise men or a virgin. So, as a last resort, they decided to write parodies of popular tunes, using fodder from the headlines of the day.

From the original three members, Capitol Steps has grown to a cast of 20, with six on stage for every performance. All the members have worked on Capitol Hill -- some for dyed-in-the-wool Democrats, some for staunch Republicans and most for fence sitters.

So all the performers know the system intimately. As co-founder Elaina Newport puts it, "Typically the Republicans goof up, and the Democrats party. Then the Democrats goof up, and the Republicans party. That's what we call the two-party system."

Country Bancorporation and Kay J.A. Bernau are the sponsors of the Capitol Steps performances in Hancher through the University of Iowa Foundation.

Tickets for the Capitol Steps are $25, $23 and $21. UI students and senior citizens qualify for a 20-percent discount, with Zone 3 tickets available to UI students for $10. Tickets for audience members 17 and younger are half price.

Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and 1-3 p.m. Sunday. From the local calling area or outside Iowa, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance within Iowa and western Illinois is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction.

People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158. This number will be answered by box office personnel prepared to offer assistance with handicapped parking, wheelchair access and seating, hearing augmentation and other services. The line is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

The entire 1999-2000 Hancher season -- including the season-spanning Millennium Festival -- is detailed in a free brochure, "At This Moment," which is available from the Hancher administrative offices (319-335-1130) or the Hancher box office.

Learn more about the Capitol Steps on the World Wide Web: <>. For UI arts news and information, and arts calendar updates, visit the ArtsIowa website: <>.