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Making fun of the NFL referees in the Le Krewe d'Etat parade in New Orleans on Friday, March 1, 2019.

The NFC championship game refereeing debacle left New Orleans with a lot of what-ifs.

What if the refs hadn’t blown the infamous game-changing call, and the Saints had gotten a chance to win in regulation rather than go into overtime? What if they, not the hapless Rams, had faced the mighty Patriots in the Super Bowl?

And what would Carnival have been like if there were no refs to riff on?

It definitely would have been different.

If Super Bowl Sunday turned into a giant street party — and wound up being far more entertaining than the game itself (or so I’m told by people who suffered through it) — it was also just a taste of things to come. When the seasonal satirists got their turn, the results were brutal, hilarious, and ubiquitous.

On short notice, the Krewe of Muses (of which I’m a member) set aside one of the topical floats in its musical-themed parade and replaced it with a take on the old standard “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” It was titled “How to Succeed in Football Without Really Winning,” and featured mock playbills from a few companion shows, including “Clueless.”

Le Krewe d’Etat got into the act too, featuring a “Willful Blindness” float as part of its medically-themed parade, as well as a troupe of dancing blind refs. The Knights of Chaos canceled its parade due to the rain, but it had a “Morning After” float ready to go, headed by a likeness of Drew Brees holding a zebra-striped voodoo doll. In Baton Rouge, the Krewe of Southdowns parade featured yellow flag throws with the missive: “See Something, Throw Something.”

The blown call emerged as the dominant satirical theme in a year in which there were plenty of evergreens.


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President Donald Trump continues to provide endless fodder. This year, he inspired Muses’ “Hairstay” float (You Can’t Stop the Tweet”), and d’Etat’s Robert Mueller-fronted “Prostate Exam.”

Vice President Mike Pence got the treatment too, on d’Etat’s “Impopence” float (with the veep wearing a chastity belt) and on the Muses title float, where he was featured in a playbill for “A Star is Born Again.”

Same for New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, the subject of Muses’ “Babes in LaToyaland” (baby’s first boil water advisory!) and d’Etat’s “Dr. Do-Little” (featuring the newly opened City Hall meditation room).

As usual, the Sewerage & Water Board got its due. The troubled agency was the topic of d’Etat’s “Incontinence” float. A viral news story from last year about how many tons — 46! — of beads were thought to clog city storm drains inspired Muses’ “Slinging in the Drain” float, and also the Krewe of Spank’s “It Came from the Catch Basin” theme for the Krewe du Vieux walking parade.

New this year were several takes on Entergy New Orleans’ fake protest scandal, in Muses’ “On Your Feet” float and Chaos’ “Power Hug.”

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh debuted as a beer-soaked Carnival character, on d’Etat’s “Amnesia” and Chaos’ “Kavanaughty.” Muses stuck with long-serving justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, breaking tradition as the “Dissenter on the Roof.” Krewe du Vieux lampooned both.

And U.S. Sen. John Kennedy was front and center on Muses’ “The Greatest Showman” float, which was covered with the quippy senator’s own words about drinking weedkiller and such.

In an instance of life imitating art, or maybe art imitating life, the real Stormy Daniels posed for photos in front of her likeness on Muses’ “Fake Newsies” float.

Daniels was the central character in the krewe’s “Stormilton — An American Scandal” float, which also featured disgraced Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who engineered the president’s payoff to the Baton Rouge-bred porn star and who testified before Congress the day before the parade rolled. It was directly followed by a winking, missile-hiding Kim Jong Un on the “Ain’t Misbehavin’ ” float, just hours after Trump’s summit with the North Korean leader had collapsed.

Which proves, I guess, that krewes don’t always have to make last-minute changes to capitalize on the news cycle. Sometimes they just get lucky.


Follow Stephanie Grace on Twitter, @stephgracela.