The sold-out Chapo Trap House show slated for Saturday (2/1) at the Englert Theatre in Iowa City was scheduled with purpose. The members of the group, who host a popular political and humor podcast, booked the event right before the Iowa caucuses hoping to propel Bernie Sanders to victory.
“We’re going to do all that we can to inspire people to look at what Bernie can do and hopefully earn the nomination of the Democratic Party,” Chapo Trap House host Will Menaker said by phone from his New York apartment. “Bernie has to win Iowa and it’s up to you guys. We’re going to come in and try to raise attention and money and inspire people to canvas and make calls for Bernie. I think he can win. Winning Iowa right off the bat will be the skeleton key for Bernie. If Bernie can win Iowa, it starts to shed support for Joe Biden.”
But the Chapo Trap House live show, which kicks off its Election 2020 tour, and the podcasts aren’t simply allies of Sanders. Members of the podcast — Menaker, Matt Christman, Felix Biederman, Amber A’Lee Frost and Virgil Texas — deliver insight and humor while poking at the Republican and Democratic parties.
“When you look at both parties, there is a lot to joke or talk about,” Menaker said. “A lot of people might think we’re just this liberal group who just pick on Donald Trump and the Republican Party, but there’s so much to talk about on the Democrat side. They have a number of terrible candidates. We have fun poking at it all.”
The Chapo Trap House troupe is composed of millennials. But word is that myriad young adults, many of whom did not vote in the last presidential election, are clamoring for change. Will the current candidate front-runners inspire much of a millennial turnout?
“It’s true that it looks like at the end of the day we’ll have two old white guys competing for the presidency,” Menaker said. “But do you want Trump to face Biden? ... We all know about what Trump has done, but look at Biden, who has his fingerprints on some of the most horrible policies ever. If you want millennials to vote, support Bernie.”
The Chapo Trap House members are working on bits for the show at the Englert and plan on entertaining the audience when they’re stumping for Sanders and when they’re going in other directions.
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“The hope is that it will be a good time for those who come out,” Menaker said. “We’re going over things now preparing for Iowa. I’m anticipating that there is going to be a lot of energy there. Iowa is a bellwether state. Iowans will set the tone for this election. They have to look at what’s out there. Donald Trump is a prissy, fancy lad from Queens and Bernie Sanders is a real guy, who actually cares, from Brooklyn. We want this to be a fun event for everyone that comes out, but this show is an unofficial rally for Bernie Sanders. We’re going to be very transparent when it comes to who we support. We want people to have a blast and, hopefully, laugh and think about what we’re saying, but we would love it if after the show people run out of the theater and support Bernie. Is there anything wrong with that?”
These aren’t the first entertainers touring with the hope of electing their candidate as president of the United States. The Vote for Change tour in 2004 featured Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam and Neil Young, who hoped to limit George W. Bush to one term. A number of entertainers performed benefits for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in 2016. Lady Gaga, Alicia Keys and Snoop Dogg donated their time for the former and Kid Rock, Martina McBride and Lynyrd Skynyrd did the same for the latter.
“If you have a platform you might as well use it,” Menaker said. “We’re all about entertaining and informing when we come to Iowa.
• What: Chapo Trap House
• Where: Englert Theatre, 221 E. Washington St., Iowa City
• When: 8 p.m. Saturday (2/1)
• Tickets: SOLD OUT
• Details: <URL destination="https://englert.org/event/chapo-trap-house/">Englert.org/event/chapo-trap-house/
</URL>• Artists’ website: Chapotraphouse.com