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Steps Right Up!

March 12, 2009 By:
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Miscreants in men's rooms? Conned by Congress? Dow going down, down, down?

Elaina Newport steps right into it. As a founding member and saucy strutter in the Capitol Steps -- which takes skittish Washington apart in skits that skewer the skunks -- Newport and her merry marauders see politics as unusual, and usually turn Washington on its pointed head.

It's Saturday-night live for this ready-for-prime-time troupe as it mainlines mayhem and mirth March 14 at Main Line Reform Temple, Beth Elohim in Wynnewood (www.mlrt.org). It's all part of a special evening saluting revered rabbis: David Straus, the synagogue's religious leader, and Max Hausen, its past religious leader, featuring a cocktail supper and an amuse bouche of boffo skits in which politicos get their just desserts.

Watch your steps, the troupe warns warmly; sacred cows are prime beef for fileting.

Originally a troupe comprised of congressional aides and abettors nearly 30 years ago, Capitol Steps pushes politics up the hill now with an amalgam of Washington wonks and wizards, and those not so much wet behind their ears as willing to give insiders an earful.

Eight years of Bush? A league all its own. Left, right, center -- Washington signs point to street theater at its best.

And sexual congress is not anathema -- who can forget the number on "Unzipping My Doodah," which gave Clinton a cigar of a paean for his pain; or "Ebony & Ovaries," in which the troupe went for broke with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton vying for the presidential nomination.

And innuendos about incompetence are in keeping with the history of the missteps taken by senators, congressmen/women, and presidents past and imperfect tense.

With dozens of albums to their credit, numerous TV appearances and club dates in which congresspeople often complain if they're not targeted, Capitol Steps steers to the Main Line this weekend to take on the current batch of weakened warriors, pulling back the TARP to reveal the schmutz under it all.

A one-time legislative assistant to New York Sen. Charles Percy and then Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, Newport is not new to the scene.

The Upper Darby native has been down this road before, but, somehow, it gets funnier with each unfilled pothole. (No mention of a former pot-smoking president since she's married to one of Clinton's former assistants.)

Old hat for Newport?

There's always a challenge for Capitol Steps and slippery slopes.

"We were very worried when Obama was elected, that he wouldn't be funny," muses the mischief-maker. "But then his first Cabinet appointment proved us wrong."

Comedy as a vice? Only when you have a veep who beeps with radioactive comic relief.

"Obama is a perfect straight man for Joe Biden," according to Newport.

No time to bide her time as she and the other Steps schtup the stuffing out of stuff that dreams are made of -- or, in the case of recent headlines, NASDAQ nightmares.

Having the Wright stuff helps, too: "What could be funnier than a Rev. Wright Guard deodorant," or, for that matter, taking a swipe of a wipe with "presidential Pampers for change?"

But what do you do when you're satirist satyrs and the media declares that post-Sept. 11 America is the poster child for the death of irony?

Turn a deaf ear: "How as a nation can you give up the right to satire?"

Politicians get it in the neck -- but they get it, too. Obama told her not to come? No way; no one -- not even Three Dog Night -- would dissuade the Steps from shooting from the hip.

And even if they say politics is local, why insult the international scene by denying deriding it? What happens in Israel doesn't stay in Israel:

"A song for Netanyahu?" she thinks of Israel's recent Knesset knightmare: "How about 'Embraceable Jew'?"

Grab a laugh and hear it all as Dems and 'Pubs step into it Saturday night, when the Senate and the House get their reps ribbed. Hill to the chief?

"We are," says Newport, off and running, "equal-opportunity offenders."  

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