NEW ORLEANS — You’ll see New Orleans’ tax assessor and mayor in Friday night’s Le Krewe D’Etat parade, along with a certain Democratic presidential candidate, congresswoman and of course President Trump. Whatever your politics or opinion, there’s a good chance this satirical krewe is taking a shot at it.
"We go local, national, worldwide, Republicans, Democrats, undeclared. I mean, you know, we'll go after anybody,” joked float builder Richard Valadie.
It’s Mardi Gras after all, and Le Krewe D’Etat is all about satire. Satirical parades were common in 19th century Mardi Gras but died out until the Knights of Momus revived the custom in the 1970s, then D’Etat expanded on it when it came on the scene in the 1990s.
“They use more sculpturing of figures, it's more intense design and they put a lot of thought into their humor,” said Errol Laborde, Carnival historian and New Orleans Magazine editor. “And their humor is all over, on the front of float, the side of the float, but if you really want to be an insider, look at the back of float because there’s usually a joke on the back and sometimes they save their most bitter or their deepest barb for the back of the float."
Creating nearly 20 original floats about people and stories in the news takes extra effort.
“You're really relying on things happening during the year, particularly politically and stuff like that,” said the krewe’s captain, who by tradition is not identified. “This year, there's been no shortage of that, you know, with the elections and the impeachment and all that stuff. So this year was a pretty easy year to get done. "
This year’s theme, which was revealed Friday, is “The Dic Goes to Mardi Gras.” Instead of a king, the krewe is led by a Dictator, called the “Dic” for short. This year’s parade uses Mardi Gras terms and icons to poke fun at the news and newsmakers.
Royal Artists has built the Krewe D’Etat parade since 2006. Owner Richard Valadie says the challenge is not just coming up with a creative and clever theme but also having the artists to create the figures and caricatures.
“It’s hard to find somebody who has a knack for it. It’s not something everybody can do is to get a good caricature across. So we have some of the best at it,” he said. Some of the satire in D’Etat can be biting, but the krewe says there is a line. Sometimes they’ll come close to that line, but they try not to cross it.
"I don't really want to say where the line is, but it is out there. The line is out there,” Valadie said. “And a lot of the people in the (theme) committee say that if they if they haven't offended somebody, they haven't done their job.”
“We just think it makes it more fun. It makes Mardi Gras fun,” said the captain. “Satire is a really unique part of Mardi Gras that goes back a long way. And there's not a lot of krewes that do it, you know, and we just we think it makes the parade a little bit more fun for the spectators and the public that goes to see the parade. They can enjoy reading the floats and seeing the floats and having a good laugh while they're out at the parade."
Le Krewe D’Etat rolls on the Uptown route Friday at 6:30 p.m.
The krewe is sponsoring an hour-long recorded broadcast of its parade on WWL-TV Saturday at 10:35 p.m., with a rebroadcast Sunday at 9 p.m. on WUPL-TV Channel 54.