Campaign season finally comes to an end with the presidential election this Tuesday, Nov. 8. For those exhausted with the battles, scandals and 24/7 news coverage The Arc of Carroll County is hosting a chance to blow off some political steam with their annual Capitol Steps fundraiser the Saturday after the country's new leader is chosen.
The fundraiser, now in its 15th year, features a performance by the Capitol Steps, a group of former Capitol Hill staffers and performers who sing parody songs and do comedy skits based on national politics. Elaina Newport, a founding member of the Steps, said this election has been both a challenge and a boon for the group and political comedy as a whole.
"What's bad for America is good for the Capitol Steps," Newport said. "We always say that it's the craziest one, but this one truly does feel like the craziest one."
The show features all of the political figures of the 2016 election, from Tim Kaine doing a rap, Hillary Clinton singing a rock song, Donald Trump singing show tunes and Vladimir Putin dancing shirtless.
One of the challenges working with the Capitol Steps, Newport said, is keeping up with the rapid pace of the news cycle. At the start of primary season, the group opened each show with a production of "76 Unknowns" referring to the immense number of candidates running for each party's nomination. As the months went on and candidates started dropping out, Newport said they had to start losing some of their favorite bits about various political figures, from Marco Rubio to Jeb Bush.
"We were going to say goodbye to Bernie [Sanders], but we've kept Bernie in the show," Newport said. "You can't stop doing Bernie, because he's funny."
Another challenge unique to this election season is the difficulty to keep up with the escalating outrageousness of the 2016 presidential race, while the candidates keep topping the jokes that the group comes up with.
"When it became clear Trump was going to become the nominee we did this joke that he would say 'I never kiss babies on the campaign trail, because babies are losers,'" Newport said. "At the time, I thought that was an exaggeration of something Trump would say, but then a couple weeks later he got into it with a baby."
Donald Rowe, executive director with The Arc of Carroll County, said this fundraiser has grown into their signature event, with all 800 seats coming close to selling out each year. Rowe said these fundraisers are vital for the organization, with 20 percent of their annual funding coming from these sorts of charity events.
Money raised at the event will go to support transportation for clients to and from work, medical care and compensating staff. He said he's looking forward to an exceptional show.
"They have made fun of a lot of politicians, but this year seems special," Rowe said. "I was talking to a representative from the Capitol Steps, and he said they've hit the motherlode this year, and I do not disagree."
Newport said she thinks humor can heal during stressful elections like this. She said she uses writing as a way to come to terms with the terrible things in the world.
"If you can't laugh, you could get upset and throw your shoe at the television," Newport said. "A ticket to our show is worth it if it'll keep you from throwing your shoe at your TV."
The Steps first formed in 1981, as a group of Senate staffers planned musical entertainment for an annual Christmas party. Newport says she loves her current career in entertainment.
"It's sometimes a weird way to make a living," Newport said. "I don't listen to the news thinking, 'Is this good for the country?' I listen thinking, 'Is this funny? What rhymes with it?' Someday I'll be sitting in a retirement home thinking back at what a very odd life I've led."