Gonna get all wacky on ya. The earliest traces of satire can be found on ancient Egyptian papyrus, poking fun at various trades in society. The roots of western political satire date to the works of Aristophanes in ancient Greece. A more modern foundation for satirical treatment of politicians can be traced to Swift's "Gulliver's Travels".
And there is no shortage of political satire in the United States, (who doesn't, these days, recognize Jon Stewart's face) Television personalities aren't the only ones mining this rich vein of material, thespians are getting into the act as well. Enter the Capitol Steps, a unique group that incorporates drama, music, and comedy in their send up of current American political figures and issues. The D.C.-based troupe has been creating active caricatures for the American public since 1981. The goal is simple, says troupe member Mark Eaton.
"Our primary purpose is to make people laugh at the politicians and issues of the day so it doesn't drive them crazy."
They come to the Tower Theatre in Bend on April 29, and are expected to perform for a sell-out crowd of like-minded compatriots. But as Mark Eaton explains, "You don't have to be a political junky to enjoy our show."
The prolific Steps have recorded an amazing 27 albums and have another one forthcoming, entitled "Campaign and Suffering."
Prior to this album, Capitol Steps have specialized in addressing issues that cover a wide spectrum. "So, they decided to dig into the headlines of the day, and created song parodies and skits which conveyed a special brand of satirical humor that was as popular in Peoria as it was on Pennsylvania Avenue," according to the group.
In an election year filled with faux drama and hyperbole, they're finding a wealth of topics on which to train their satirical blend of humor and wit.
Over the years, they have performed at hundreds of venues, including many national TV appearances. According to Mark Eaton, this year alone, they will play over 700 shows. That's right, 700.
They perform every Friday and Saturday night at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington D.C. They have also played at venues such as the Paramount Theater in Seattle and the California Institute of Technology,. Four times annually-every New Year's, April Fool's, Fourth of July, and Halloween-they play "Politics Takes a Holiday" on public radio programs across the country.
And that kind of schedule, folks, is no joke.
The Capitol Steps
7p.m. Tuesday, April 29. Tower Theatre, 835 NW Wall St. Tickets Tower Box Office. $35/General $45/Reserved