LANDOVER, MD—According to Gino's Restaurant patrons Barry and Paula Kallen, a guy at the next table will not shut up about the Washington D.C.-based musical political-satire troupe The Capitol Steps.
"The whole time we're eating," Paula said, "all we could hear was this guy going off about The Capitol Steps."
"The Steps are so hilarious," said the unidentified forty something white male, seated less that 10 feet away from the couple. "Did you ever see Mark Russell? Well, just imagine a whole stage full of Mark Russells."
The troupe, the man explained to his dinner companions, the Kallens, and several dozen other restaurant patrons just trying to enjoy their meals, originated in 1981 as an impromptu burlesque show during a Capitol Hill holiday party. Ever since, he said, a musical-comedy revue satirizing contemporary Beltway foibles has been staged every year, written by and starring present and former congressional staffers.
"I would definitely audition for them, but you have to be an employee of Congress," he loudly told his dinner companions, a couple whose relationship to him is unknown but who periodically nodded or made monosyllabic sounds of affirmation throughout his long recounting of various skits and songs performed over the years by the wacky D.C. ensemble.
The self-described "Steppie" then explained that The Capitol Steps' latest album, First Lady And The Tramp, uproariously lampoons the recent Clinton-Lewinsky imbroglio, going "way beyond anything Leno ever did about it."
"But one of the most amazing things about the Steps," the fan explained to the colossally polite couple, "is that they've put out a brand-new album every single year since '84, and they do a touring show and four radio specials a year."
"They're unstoppable!" he added.
As few at Gino's could avoid knowing, the man has been a fan of The Capitol Steps ever since he heard a friend's copy of the group's 1994 Clinton-skewering album Lord Of The Fries.
"That was a good album," the man noted, "with some really funny stuff like 'Middle-Aged Lady Named Janet Reno.'"
"Instead of 'Little Old Lady From Pasadena,'" he clarified.
Growing more excited, the Steps fan told nearly 40 people, including the kitchen staff, that his love of the troupe peaked with the 1997 release of Sixteen Scandals. "Scandals is still my favorite album, but I think Tramp may be almost as good," he said in his loudest voice yet. "I've got every one of their records, with the exception of 1985's We Arm The World. That one's pretty hard to get."
Spitting a small piece of ricotta from his lasagna across the table, the man went on to describe the "Lirty Dies" sections of most Steps albums. "It's like spoonerisms," he said, "but it's just tons and tons of spoonerisms all coming out at once! It's really great."
Minutes later, the man half-stood to perform several bars of "When IRS Guys Are Smilin'."
"I guess he's really into that show," said Paula, hurrying to finish her cannoli and signaling frantically for the check.
"That was definitely an experience," Barry said. "Now I'm gonna have 'A Whole Newt World' stuck in my head for three days."