Jan 22, 201809:27 AM
The Editor's Room
Weekly Commentary with New Orleans Magazine’s Errol Laborde
Krewe du Trump
A New Age of Satire
We have entered a new golden age of political satire by Carnival krewes, or some might say an “orange age.” Either way the opportunities for the immediate future are rich. There are currently six krewes that routinely offer satirical parades: Le Krewe D’etat, Chaos, Tucks, Ancient Druids, Krewe du Vieux and Muses. Some political eras provide better material then others.
Take Reconstruction, which locals in the 1870s found hard to take. In 1873 the Comus parade had a theme of “Missing Links in Darwin’s Origins of the Species.” The parade used Darwin's theory (which at the time was hot new science) and linked it to Reconstruction. President Grant was transformed into a Tobacco grub – a bug that smoked cigars. General Butler, who was the merciless boss of the federal occupation, was displayed as a hyena. (The federal occupiers were not amused; neither was Charles Darwin when sent a copy of the parade outline.)
Four years later, in 1877, a different krewe, Momus, spoofed Grant as being the devil, Beelzebub. Butler, along with other carpetbag bosses was shown in a sinking ship. Tempers were so high that Governor Nicholls, a former Confederate general, sent a telegram to army brass in Washington apologizing for Momus' action.
After that parade there would be no more satirical themes for 100 years, until Momus brought back a gentler version, no longer chaffed by Reconstruction, in 1977. Since then satire has steadily increased bolstered lately by a new opportunity: whether you hate him or like him, there has been no more satirical figure in American history than Donald Trump.
We saw the beginnings last year when the president had only been in office a few weeks. Krewe du Vieux depicted him under the title “Orange is the New Black.” Le’ Krewe d’Etat displayed him as a King Kong type figure climbing the Washington Monument. Chaos showed Trump wearing a baseball cap with the message, “Make America Grate Again.” (Gambit weekly reported on the parade of ‘tit Rex, which on one of its miniaturized floats showed a Barbie Doll sized Trump with two Barbie hookers and a miniature Putin taking pictures.) And that was just the beginning before the Twitter madness; revolving appointees; insulting Haiti and praising Norway.
I have tried to think if there is any figure in American history as barb-worthy as Trump, and I cant. Locally, Huey Long might have been good for laughs and so too Edwin Edwards. In the post-Katrina era Ray Nagin was easy to pick on before going to jail. (Conversely Bobby Jindal was never funny and John Bel Edwards is too straight.)
But Trump is both a grub and Beelzebub wearing a radiant crown of orange. Then there is his family that can be a parade in itself.
We know that presidencies should not be supported just because they are easy to make fun of. We should do what is right. But if Trump should be off the stage we dread the satirist trying to find laughs from Mike Pence. The Clintons should stay nearby.
BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: Errol’s Laborde’s new book, “Mardi Gras: Chronicles of the New Orleans Carnival” (Pelican Publishing Company, 2013), has been released. It is now available at local bookstores and at book websites.
WATCH INFORMED SOURCES, FRIDAYS AT 7 P.M., REPEATED AT 11:30 P.M. WYES-TV, CH. 12.