The Capitol Steps are an American political satire group. The group has been performing since 1981, and has released over forty albums consisting primarily of song parodies. Originally consisting exclusively of congressional staffers performing around Washington, D.C., the troupe now primarily employs professional actors and singers. The Capitol Steps have performed on PBS, public radio and in various small- and medium-sized venues around the United States.
In 1981, three Republican congressional staffers — Bill Strauss, Elaina Newport, and Jim Aidala -used their spare time while working for the Subcommittee on Energy, Nuclear Proliferation, and Government Processes of the Senate Committee of Governmental Affairs to write and sing parodies about current events. They were joined by fellow Republican Senate staffers Nancy Baskin, Barbie Granzow, and Dave Nichols. Together they decided to put on a Christmas show as their first performance, while continuing to work full-time as Congressional staffers. They chose the name “The Capitol Steps” for their group based on a sex scandal earlier that year, in which then-Congressman John Jenrette had sex with his wife, Rita, on the steps of the Capitol building.
The first show took place on December 11, 1981, at a Christmas party for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The performers deemed the show a success, and performed several more times that month with the same songs. In 1982, the group expanded to include several more members, including House staffers and Democrats. Despite being predominantly Republican, they made a concerted effort to make their shows bipartisan, trying to incorporate a roughly even mix of songs targeted at Democrats and Republicans. They achieved media interest at this time, but refused all interviews on the grounds that their jobs could be endangered by press coverage of their satirical antics. They were also concerned about how their behavior might reflect on the chair of Strauss and Newport’s subcommittee, Senator Charles H. Percy.