Laughing at politics

An election year means political satire is at its biggest and best

Political Humor: The cast of “Capitol Steps” poked fun at the realm of politics in the Williams Auditorium. Photo By: Olivia Odette | Photograher
The Capitol Steps, a group of individuals who perform political satire, came to Ferris with clever turns of phrases and flipped words in hand.

The five performers from the 25-person troupe flew through their routine with the professionalism and expertise befitting a thirty-year-old, nationally touring comedy group.

Performing for an older gathering much unlike the largely student-composed audience hit topics expected and well-trod, as well as touching upon topics that have already slipped out of social consciousness, bringing an oddly nostalgic feeling to some of the jokes.

Remember the Somalian pirates? “Ar!” you say; of course you do. Well, a Somalian pirate did indeed make an appearance, as did Al Gore and Don Quayle. Troupe member Jon Bell frequently pulled out an excellent Obama impression that was especially delightful opposite their Romney – an easy target that was excellently lampooned.

All the necessary characters made appearances (Sarah Palin, Nancy Pelosi, Dick Cheney), and while the material did feel a little easy from time to time, it was all quite well balanced out with parodies to the tune of such recognizable and at first bizarre songs as “Amazing Grace” and the Little Mermaid classic.

Speaking of songs, much should be made of the cast’s vocal abilities–not just the ability to deliver a line or nail a vocal quirk, but also to nail a note. Felicia Curry’s songs were especially fine, but every time any cast member opened up and let their voice loose, it was something of a mini-revelation each time Barack Obama suddenly burst into song or Romney started rapping.

The night provided a bit of many comedic things: the afore-mentioned songs, impressions, debates, the oddest political speech one’s likely to have heard, and, at moments, even the odd bit of dance.

The group that “puts the MOCK in Democracy” was just as advertised: “fresh and crispy, right from the headlines.” The group was indeed fresh, even having a joke about the recent controversial anti-Islam video slipped in early on (which, according to Steps member Mike Tilford, is the way they test out new jokes before fully integrating them into the routine) while also doing a “greatest hits” of sorts to finish off the show.

The finale included the Bush/Perry bromance and “The Newt (Gingrich) Three.” The Capitol Steps classic “We Didn’t Start Satire” summed up 30 years of political scandal.

The real gem of the evening, though, was Tilford’s five-minute, word flipping (or “flord wipping”) riff on still more subjects, the highlight being a name he didn’t flip: Anthony Weiner.

“I’m not flipping his name, it’s perfect the way it is,” Tilford said.

The Capitol Steps provided Ferris with a show that only got better as it went on, providing political commentary that was at the same time skewering and insightful, taking shots at each and every side in equal parts– though there were probably a few folks who would disagree.

Tilford said that after shows, sometimes “we’ll have a person at this end of the table (gestures to the left) accuse us of being conservative and someone at this end of the table (gestures to the right) accuse us of being liberal.”

Regardless of personal politics, it’s impossible to deny the intelligence behind the content, the chops of the performers, and the sincere desire to entertain.