by Ted Holteen

W riting is not easy. OK, compared to tarring roofs or digging ditches (or insert your vocation here), it's easy but it can be tricky to convey the true meaning intended by the author to the reader. Often, a great deal is lost in the transfer, be it due to the inability to express a nuance by the writer or the impossibility of certain readers to appreciate it. I run into this problem all of the time, and I blame neither the reader nor myself. It just happens. Writing comedy is perhaps the most difficult of all. What leaves the writer's pen as a funny idea can quickly transform to outrage, offense, or ennui depending on the audience. If the writer is really lucky, some people laugh. But one crutch that comedy writers have leaned on since the profession began is politics. From the political cartoons of Thomas Nast to "Saturday Night Live," politics has always been there to provide comedians with the material they then need only come up with the punchline.

So where is this going, right? Well, tonight, Thursday, Oct. 7, you can see some of the best in the business of political comedy and satire as the Fort Lewis College Community Concert Hall welcomes The Capitol Steps . Comprised of disenchanted former congressional aides and staffers, The Capitol Steps are a traveling troupe of five (there are actually several troupes I don't know if we're getting their "A-Team" or not) who take shots at current politicos through sketch comedy and song parodies. They're touring on the strength of their last two CD releases "Papa's Got a Brand New Baghdad" which features songs like "Between Iraq and a Hard Place." It's sort of like a stage version of "The Daily Show" but with a lot more singing. The key to the success of the Steps is intelligence not just smarts, but knowledge. The former beltway insiders mix a disturbing amount of truth with their comedy, and there is certainly no shortage of material for them to work with this fall. And we'll probably be the first audience to see them since Dick Cheney's TV appearance on Tuesday. Go nuts, guys. The Steps don't work blue in the Richard Pryor sense of the word, but it is more or less a grown-ups kind of show. We'll call it PG-13. Leave the young kids at home tonight. Showtime is 7 p.m.

Seems like FLC is Durango's cultural epicenter this week. From Thursday through Sunday, The Fort Lewis Theatre Department presents "The Diary of Anne Frank" the play, not the book. Having used up most of my anti-German material last week, we'll stick to the play this time. (Although I can't ignore the irony of the play opening last weekend opposite Durango's Oktoberfest!) This is yet another event that I will attempt to review without actually seeing it. But that's OK I have no intention of criticizing the performance of college kids who don't get paid for their acting and work their collective asses off while juggling their class load (I hope) and everything else that goes along with being a college student. I'm sure they do a great job. I do know Ginny Davis, who is directing the play, and I expect that she will get the most out of these kids as she does with every other production at the college. Davis' work is, shall we say, alternative at times. Remember paragraph 1? There have been times when I've left the theater confused, but being an ignoramus I feel the fault lies with me. (Curious I expected spell check to catch me on "ignoramus," but it must be a real word. I told you I was an ignoramus.) She experiments with many different theatrical styles, and it usually works if you let yourself go. There are ways of achieving such release, but I'll leave you to your own devices to figure those out. If you haven't seen a production in the Gallery Theater at the college, this is a great first show, as the entire theater space is the set and the audience is in it. Really quite impressive. And if you don't know the story of Anne Frank, go on Thursday (yes, tonight). Before tonight's show, guest historian Ellen Paul will provide some cheery background info to get you in the mood. Then, it's "Bring on the Stormtroopers!" Showtimes are at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with a 2:30 p.m. matinee on Sunday. And it's cheap. Like I said, these kids work hard please give them an audience worthy of their efforts.

This weekend also brings us the second annual Rocky Mountain Festival for Runners . It is an action-packed affair with running events ranging in distance from 5 kilometers to a full-blown, 26-mile marathon. These are a great bunch of well-coordinated events and participation last year was tremendous. I don't mean to downplay the weekend's festivities, but I simply don't run unless it's around a softball diamond, so any further comment on my part would only expose another layer in the depths of my ignorance. But drive carefully this weekend. They're everywhere. The full schedule is online at

I've only left myself room for one musical selection this week, and I choose The Summit as the lucky winner. On Saturday night, New York City Ska legends The Toasters come to town, all eight of 'em. My ska sources tell me this is a good thing. I would like to see their plan for getting all eight band members on The Summit's stage, but they're pros; I'm sure they'll figure it out or fire someone. No Johnny-come-latelys, these Toasters. They've been at this ska thing for over 20 years, and they're as good as it gets. Lots of brass, loud and generally raucous, the way the good Lord intended. And Durango is one of the few towns where you can drink Ska beer while listening to ska music. That's got to count for something.

Super Bowl update: Eagles over Patriots until further notice.

Silence is overrated. Speak. How 'bout them Cubs? n




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