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Release: April 16, 2002

Capitol Steps wrap up Hancher season with political song parodies

The Capitol Steps, whose political song parodies keep the electorate in stitches and Washington officials watching their backsides, will wrap up the season at the University of Iowa Hancher Auditorium with a performance at 8 p.m. Friday, May 3.

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 their recent creations include the inevitable Enron ditties; "Sharon Again," in response to the chaos in the Middle East; "Paranoia," a "Battle Hymn of the Republic" parody on Tom Ridge's color-codes alerts; a Ted Koppel's lament upon ABC's wooing of David Letterman, "Heard I'm Through at Nightline"; and even a comment on the American Taliban, "Johnny's No Good."

They are also likely to perform some of the hits from their most recent CD, "One Bush, Two Bush, Old Bush, New Bush - Songs of 2001."

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 more than 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."

Tickets for the Capitol Steps are $30, $25 and $20. Hancher Auditorium box office business hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158, which is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Tickets may be ordered on-line 24 hours a day, seven days a week through Hancher's website:< >.

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. Information and brochures may be requested by e-mail: <>.

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