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Politics inspire comedy

By Billy Rafael
On October 30, 2012

In a time when politics is quickly becoming the only thing anyone wants to talk about, Hall Auditorium received a breath of fresh air by hosting the Capitol Steps, a touring political comedy act whose motto is "We put the 'mock' in 'Democracy." As part of the Miami University Performing Arts Series, five performers took the stage Sunday for both an afternoon and evening show.

The group has been going for over thirty years and features more members than performed Sunday allowing them to perform in multiple places at once. Picture a whole string of SNL sketches fused in with Weird Al-style parodies then loaded with more political jokes, puns and insults than you can imagine and you'll have a pretty good idea of what their show is like.

The performance thrived off of its impressions, most notably an Obama who appeared several times throughout the show and presented with a perfected authenticity, nailing every mannerism and dialect. Nothing was left untouched. Every political figure, scandal and gaffe was given attention. They treaded a fine line, making sure to not seem as if they were siding with one political party. What they were doing was truly mocking and they made sure to equally dish it out.

Highlights included Bill Clinton walking onstage to give a single one-liner about Romney's "binder full of women," a New York city official who started his bit by telling the piano player to shut up and an Iraqi tourism minister that ended up breaking character to laugh at himself and skipping straight to his song.

The music was corny enough that it was entertaining. They drew from everywhere for their parodies and crafted the words extremely delicately, making it easy to identify what each song originally was. The Little Mermaid, Mary Poppins, Grease, Fiddler on the Roof, Simon and Garfunkel and Billy Joel were just a few of the inspirations they chose. While some of the cast was more talented vocally than others, all performed with enough comedic integrity to keep the audience enthralled.

The group definitely has a specific kind of audience member in mind when crafting the skits. Truly appreciating their humor required being somewhat up on current events. There were times that the jokes were lost, either too particular or obscure to get noticed or unintelligible due to an impression. The humor catered to the crowd, which consisted of more Oxford residents than Miami students, being just as risqué as it needed to be. Language was kept tame and innuendos were just suggestive enough keep the laughs coming.

As they finished their finale, "We Didn't Start Satire," they were met with a very sincere ovation from the audience. The cast was sure to give special attention to the lone piano player who accompanied the entire performance from memory.

"I thought the writing was extremely clever and the performers were great vehicles for the writing," senior Jarod Garel said after the evening performance. "I like that they tried to make it accessible to all audiences, but the more you knew about politics the funnier it was."

Whether the audience walked away with a changed political perspective remains unknown, but it's safe to say that everyone definitely left feeling a little more lighthearted about this election season.

More information on upcoming Performing Arts Series shows can be found at

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