Ex-Capito Aide to Post Online Political Comedy

Monday, July 8th, 2013

Story compliments of Laura Reston and The Charleston Gazette

A West Virginia native and former aide to Rep. Shelley Moore Capito plans a comedy show that parodies Congress. It will make its debut on YouTube next month.

Rob Raffety has produced and directed several short films about life on Capitol Hill. The Buckhannon native worked for Capito during her initial campaign for Congress in 2000 and moved to Washington to become her legislative director for about a year.

Since then, Raffety said, he’s been developing the idea for a congressional spoof. He released a preliminary Web version of “Cap South,” his political parody, several years ago.

Now he has set his sights on a lengthier show that delves deeper into the everyday drama on Capitol Hill.

The comedic series — named after the Metro stop Capitol South, where many congressional staffers get off the subway to go to work every morning — follows fictional congresswoman Gracie Todd Englewright of Virginia as she navigates political and personal pressures on Capitol Hill. The show also chronicles the mishaps, love affairs, and political machinations of her staff.

The series will air on YouTube during July. Raffety plans to release two or three episodes a week. Each episode runs for three to five minutes.

Raffety, now associate director for policy research at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, said that Englewright bears no resemblance to Capito.

“Cap South’s storyline is purely fictional,” Raffety said. “Assisting the congresswoman during her first year in office was easily [one of] my proudest and most rewarding professional accomplishments.

“The characters of Cap South are comically exaggerated versions of the sort of stock characters you’d expect to find on the Hill,” Raffety said. “All of them have unique traits and hidden secrets.”

According to Raffety, other characters include “accomplished but unlucky” Chief of Staff Elliott Clarice, power-hungry scheduler Ally Gallagher O’Connolly, lobbyist Remington Dixwell, and young, idealistic staffer Naomi Foster.

Raffety recently enlisted Andrew Heaton, another former congressional aide, to star as Elliot Clarice. Heaton formerly worked on Capitol Hill for Reps. Tim Holden of Pennsylvania and Dan Boren of Oklahoma. He now works as a standup comedian and writer.

Raffety plans to include “bonus features including mash-ups of constituent phone calls, special interest group attack ads, and other one-off vignettes.”

He also wants to experiment with “various ways that online video and social media can be used to tell a story.”

“Cap South” joins several new political dramas and comedies like “Veep,” “House of Cards” and “1600 Penn” that have recently made their debut.

But Raffety said that his show “stands apart from other politically themed shows” because it focuses on the staff, rather than the “head honchos” on the Hill.

“I try to explore some of the common challenges and obstacles facing the average staffer,” Raffety said.

Although the show may appeal mainly to staffers and beltway insiders familiar with the ins and outs of Congress, Raffety also hopes to draw a broader audience.

“I hope the humor will appeal broadly to anyone who enjoys zany comedy and funny characters,” he said.

He said he might even film an episode located in West Virginia next season.

Reach Laura Reston at laura.res…@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5112.