Stepping up to a Capitol evening – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Stepping up to a Capitol evening

George W. Bush and John Kerry had a joke-telling contest. Al Gore promoted his new book, “Doom and Gloom for Dummies.” Larry Craig made an appearance from inside a rest room stall. Even Kim Jong Il stopped by to wonder what could be done about the problems with Korea. When it was all over, the Capitol Steps took the stage once again, bowing before the Smith Opera House’s standing ovation.

The Capitol Steps, a political satire troupe based in Washington, D.C., performed in Geneva on Thursday night. Their appearance, spearheaded by senior public policy major Allyson Doherty, was the result of a joint effort by the campus political groups and the Office of Student Activities. Their show drew a large and unique crowd.

“It’s a great, diverse crowd. I like to see students and seniors enjoying the same event,” said Kelly Bradley, administrative coordinator at The Smith.

While the crowd was diverse, The Capitol Steps’performance drew huge laughs from everyone. “It’s the kind of group that we wish we could have more often. We’re glad the Colleges could help bring them here,” said Kevin Schoonover, The Smith’s executive director.

The Steps played the Smith as one of many performances that their group puts on every year. Thirty core members make up the group, and they have up to four separate casts traveling the country simultaneously. Some members play with the group full-time, others do it in addition to other endeavors. However, the influx of new material keeps it fresh.

“We’re constantly changing material, so it doesn’t get stale,” said Bari Biern, who has been performing with the Steps since 1993. She formerly worked with Congressman Henry Waxman, a Democrat from California. Her favorite song to perform of late? “TB on a Jetplane,” she said. “But I used to like singing about Monica Lewinsky.”

Of the 25 songs and skits presented on Thursday night, which got the best reaction?

“You can’t ask for anything more than a sex scandal,” said David Kane, the group’s pianist. [Idaho Sen. Larry] “Craig has been getting a big reaction. Sex scandals always tickle the funny bone.”

If laughing is the typical audience reaction at a Capitol Steps performance, sometimes members of the crowd set themselves apart. During one show, as the Steps sang a song called “Europe’s Disney in France,” spoofing foreign disdain for Americans, a woman got out of her seat and headed toward the stage. “I am from France, and I wish to speak!” she yelled, interrupting the song.

“They’re equal-opportunity offenders,” said President Mark D. Gearan. “It’s a lot of fun.”