New Show Mines Congress for Comedy Gold
Paging House Majority Whip Francis Underwood: There’s a new unruly player in town.
Ex-congressional aides Rob Raffety and Andrew Heaton are skewering their former employer in a new Web show dubbed “Cap South,” a comedy project chronicling the misadventures of a fictional female congresswoman and her bumbling staff.
Creator/director Raffety plans to unveil the homegrown series — set to debut on YouTube this July — a few episodes at a time (two or three per week, he said). He’ll also be fleshing out the faux workplace, which seems to echo the irreverent tone struck by HBO’s breakout hit “Veep” by mixing in “bonus features” including bogus “attack ads,” constituent phone call segments and wacky non sequiturs.
For Raffety, who spent a year in the trenches with Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., back in 2001, the show is all about playing up the organized chaos that is Congress.
“I try to explore some of the common challenges and obstacles facing the average staffer day-in and day-out and offer a comedic perspective on that very unique work environment,” he said of the “highly exaggerated version of reality” presented.
Comedian Heaton portrays congressional Chief of Staff Elliott Clarice, a power-hungry guy with a whole lot on his plate.
Per Heaton, his time on the Hill was more slapstick comedy than observational yukks.
“I was bitten by a penguin in Rayburn,” the former aide to then-Reps. Tim Holden, D-Pa., and Dan Boren, D-Okla., told HOH about a photo op gone horribly wrong.
“It was one of those events where some fantastic organization shows up at Congress to foster good will … with an open bar. I had two glasses of wine after work, pointed to a penguin on display, and asked, ‘Can I touch it?’ They said, ‘NO’ but I did it anyway, and it chomped down (hard) on my finger,” he explained. “Fortunately, good breeding kept me from picking a fight with that stupid bird, which, for the record, can’t even figure out how to fly.”
Heaton’s day-to-day duties were less life-threatening, but plenty soul-sucking.
“One lady called to inform us that, ‘My husband didn’t fight the Russians in World War II just so we could all become a bunch of communists!’ That’s right, ma’am. He didn’t,” Heaton said of the lunacy of fielding irate calls to congressional offices.
Heaton has since moved on. But there are certain things he wishes he’d crossed off his bucket list before relinquishing his House ID.
“I never got to go up into the Rotunda, which I would love to do. I also missed out on Army Range Day … which sounds like the fruition of every Boy Scout fantasy I ever had,” he lamented. “And I never dated any interns, which I’m still kicking myself for.”
Raffety is thrilled to be able to shine a light not only on Congress but also on D.C. itself. He did some shooting over the weekend at Union Pub, and he plans to weave local spots into the storyline as much as possible.
“I’m planning to film the season finale at a local Hill venue,” Raffety shared, mapping out plans to stage a faux farewell happy hour for one of the series regulars at which fans will be welcome.
“We’ll shoot the episode at the event and let members of our audience serve as extras. Maybe a few of them will land a small speaking role. Who knows?” he posited.