The Capitol Steps brought their unique blend of satire, music and wit to the Jewish Association on Aging’s fifth annual “The Art of Aging: Step Up Seniors” on Tuesday, June 11, at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center.
In a performance dubbed as “putting the mock in democracy,” the comedy troupe skewered both the left and right to the delight of the nearly 500 in attendance.
The evening benefited JAA’s Free Care Fund, according to Tinsy Labrie, director of marketing and public relations. “We have patients and residents who are on Medicaid; if they run out of funds, we find a way to keep taking care of them. That’s what this fund is for. It’s about 10% of our overall budget, so it’s really important that we keep that replenished. This event goes a long way toward giving it publicity.”
A d’var Torah by Rabbi Eli Seidman opened the benefit, followed by speeches from Andrew Stewart, JAA board chair, and Deborah Winn-Horvitz, president and CEO. Several short videos highlighted the agency’s work.
Pittsburgh City Councilmen Cory O’Connor and Daniel Lavelle introduced The Capitol Steps with several jokes about local politics.
“The city has a lot of crises going on. There’s a recycling crisis, the Highmark/UPMC crisis, we have a wage crisis and a housing crisis, but more importantly, we at Council are dealing with Bill Peduto’s midlife crisis,” O’Connor joked. “If you haven’t seen the mayor or his new beard, he’s planning on joining a civil war reenactment.”
Featuring Morgan Duncan, Bari Biern Sedar, Tracey Stephens, Brad Van Grack, Jamie Zemarel, and Howard Breitbart, The Capitol Steps made quick work of Washington, D.C. Skits were heavily influenced by current affairs, with cast members playing politicians as they took jabs at Bernie Sanders with the song “Songs of Sanders,” the current state of the Democratic Party with “All About That Base,” featuring Barack Obama, and the upcoming primary with Joe Biden singing “Can You Feel the Rub Tonight.”
The president and his political woes weren’t ignored either. “I’m So Indicted,” a parody of the Pointer Sisters’ hit “I’m So Excited,” featured both Donald Trump and Paul Manafort. Sarah Sanders and Michael Cohen reworked Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Boxer” in a prescient number for the press sectary with the refrain “bye, bye, bye, bye.” In perhaps the most predictable parody, Stormy Daniels sang “Stormy Weather.”
A highlight of the show not centered on the political landscape included a send-up of sexual harassment charges spurred on by the #MeToo movement done in the style of the ’60s surreal comedy group Firesign Theatre’s classic skit “Nick Danger.” In this case, a private detective, Huge Idiot, recounted his attempts to investigate sexual misconduct.
The evening ended with an extended piece by Van Grack, “Lirty Dies,” in which the comedian employed spoonerisms, transposing the beginning sounds of words for comedic effect. The result was an audience favorite that made ordinary conversation seem risqué. “This evening we’ve had some lighs and some hoes … tonight’s tory is about our lugged presidential erections. Because every your fears the world ends us gusting a butt … ”
Labrie explains that one important goal of the evening was to highlight the work done by JAA.
“As a growing agency, with services not just related to what people think we are, which is a nursing home. [People] want to age at home, they want to age in place. And independent living like we have in Riverview is an important part of the puzzle. We need to be out there. Doing things like ‘Art of Aging’ is important to that vision.”
“It was meaningful to honor our parents’ generation through the amazing work of the JAA, and also a hilarious time laughing and singing with the community,” said attendee Dan Rothschild.
“We loved the show,” said Chris Bairnsfather. “The August Wilson Center was a perfect venue for this shindig. With such intense political division, The Capitol Steps managed to slay everyone equally. In our house, we love equality.” pjc
David Rullo can be reached at drullo@