Laughter may be the best medicine, but it's a little tough to swallow after the events of September 11. Capitol Steps member Brian Ash points out that while most major political news sends Internet jokes circulating within fifteen minutes, even e-mail junkies are sending out pleas to give blood rather than lists of Bushisms. And Comedy Central immediately pulled its spoof That's My Bush off the air.
Capitol Steps members are also moved by the need to show respect and solidarity. "I don't think anybody is expecting us to make fun of this situation," Ash notes. "If they were, I'd turn in my card."
But that doesn't change their resolve to continue performing wherever venues will let them and wherever logistics don't interfere. The comedians' home base is Washington, D.C., and they've had some cancellations, but none, so far, due to the nature of their act.
"Like everyone else, we want to get behind the government right now," Ash says. "But at the same time, we don't want to alter what we do, just like nobody else wants to alter their way of life. It's a way of saying we're not going to let the bastards get us down."
Troupe members are removing material that might recently have seemed harmless enough. "We used to have a song about airline travel and Taliban," Ash says, "and we're obviously taking that out."
But Ash is admittedly befuddled about how they'll pull that off. "I don't think anybody's ever dealt with anything like this before. We're really on uncharted ground here."