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The Capitol Steps: I'm So Indicted

This revue full of topical politicial humor is very funny, even if you don't watch CNN. logo
The Capitol Steps in I'm So Indicted
(Photo © Richard Termine)
Broadway used to be a hotbed of political satire. Musical comedies and revues regularly spoofed presidents, commented on scandals, sent up social trends, and satirized contemporary events. Today, one is more likely to find political comedy on late night TV talk shows than in the theater. Fortunately, there is one long-standing exception to the rule. The Capitol Steps come to New York almost every year and do for politics what Forbidden Broadway does for the theater: They make you laugh.

You'll definitely laugh at their current show at The Supper Club, The Capitol Steps: I'm So Indicted. It's one of the troupe's most consistently funny efforts. They've perfected the trick of crafting a good musical parody. First, pick a well-known tune in which the real title need not be changed very much in order to make a comic point. For instance, The Capitol Steps use "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?" (from The Sound of Music) and simply change the last word to "Korea." Out comes one of the company in a fright wig, big glasses, and a musical comedy version of a North Korean military outfit. Presto! The number is hilarious hilarious. In another of our particular favorites, Arab and Israeli negotiators square off while the former sings "Embrace me, my sweet embraceable Jew."

The Steps go back to the beginnings of musical comedy -- i.e., Gilbert & Sullivan -- to make fun of the new Iraqi constitution, as three of their members do a chipper song-and-dance routine to "Three Little Kurds from School." When they're not using musical theater melodies, the troupe relies on famous pop tunes. To the tune of Simon and Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson," we get: "Here's to You, Reverend Robertson, Jesus doesn't even watch your show. Ho, Ho, Ho!"

Not all of the humor is strictly political; the show also includes jabs at the price of gasoline ("What Kind of Fuel Am I?), a Rush Limbaugh/Viagra number to the tune of "Maria" from West Side Story, and "Juan," a song about immiagration that borrows the melody of "One," the show-stopping finale of A Chorus Line. There are also a bevy of standup routines, sketches, and celebrity impersonations. Among the funniest bits is one in which George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry debate the meaning of the joke "Why did the chicken cross the road?"

The cast of five, some of whom worked on Capitol Hill before taking this back door into show business, are a talented bunch. The highest praise goes to Michael Forrest and Mike Thornton. Forrest has a great voice, strong acting chops, and exceptional articulation, all of which help make a large percentage of his gags land effectively. Thornton, a veteran of the troupe, is a natural performer. His impersonations of Bush and former vice president Al Gore are dead-on, his comic timing is impeccable, and he will shamelessly do anything for a laugh.

If you think you're not enough of a newshound to appreciate the material, don't worry; we are both ashamed at how little we know about current events, yet we got about 95 percent of the references in this show. So even if you don't watch CNN or read The New York Times, seeing I'm So Indicted is a capital idea.

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