The quote “if you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?” defines the entertainment making its way to The State Theatre this weekend.
The Capitol Steps , a comedy troupe made of congressional staffers who use music to express political satire, will perform two shows at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday Sept. 8 at the State Theatre. Tickets are $39 and can be purchased at the State Theatre Box Office, 130 W. College Ave.
According to the Capitol Steps’ website, the group began in 1981 when some staffers for Senator Charles Percy were planning entertainment for a Christmas party. The intention was to stage a nativity play, but “in the whole Congress they couldn't find three wise men or a virgin,” so they used headlines from the day to create skits and parodies.
Soon after, the group started to get calls to entertain at other events, Mark Eaton , co-writer of the Capitol Steps, said.
“Our bosses started noticing we were showing up less and less for work,” Eaton joked. The group then quit their jobs and began their new journey as the Capitol Steps.
Eaton, who joined the group part time in 1993 and full time in 1999, will not be performing at the show this weekend, but is a current performer.
He said Saturday’s show will be “very fast-paced.”
“It is a funny look at political issues of today…it’s like a weird political science class,” Eaton said.
The issues discussed at the show, though funny, are entirely real, he said.
“There are a lot of heavy issues [in the world today] and if you don’t laugh, it will drive you crazy,” Eaton said.
The Capitol Steps have released 30 albums, the newest of which is entitled “Take the Money and Run for President,” which was released this year. Eaton said it features songs about all of the Republican candidates and the current president.
Each album is different and represents a different time in America, Eaton said.
“There’s a lot of truth in satire,” Penn State Professor of Political Science Michael Berkman said.
Political satire is important because “in this day and age, some people get their entire news from satire,” Berkman said, citing shows like The Daily Show, for example.
The Capitol Steps embraces this.
“We singe people,” Eaton said. “We see humor in things.”
But the Capitol Steps are “equal opportunity offenders,” Eaton said.
Eaton cites the Bill Clinton era and former President George W. Bush for muses that were a lot of fun to write about.
Richard Biever , executive director of the State Theatre, said the group has been to State College before, and in the past has been popular and hilarious.
The fact it’s an election year just adds to their appearance in State College, Biever said.