What is he? He's a paradox. He's a sad man with a sense of humor, a dark man who spreads light, a sinister man with an adroit wit, a tragic figure with a comic face. Who is he? He's the court jester.
DB - The Vagabond
Come in and lighten up.
"He who'd make his fellow creatures wise should always gild the philosophic pill." So says Jack Point, one of the famous fictional jesters. It isn't odd that people of the theatre should be interested in the phenomena of the court jesters, also called fools, because in among the self-important personages of the court, the jester was an entertainer.
Jack Point is the jester in Gilbert and Sullivan's "Yeoman Of The Guard." Giuseppe Verdi's opera "Rigoletto" is about a jester who ridicules the wrong man and gets a curse put on him. And probably the most famous fool of dramatic literature is the Fool in "King Lear."
The term "fool" did not have it's contemporary meaning. It had to do more with foolery than foolishness. The fool appeared to be an ignorant simpleton who made funny yet astute observations of the world around him. I don't think anyone knows how the institution of the court jester originated, but it goes way back into ancient history. Even the Aztec monarchs had court jesters.
The jester's job was to entertain the king or whatever leader was employing him and that frequently meant making fun of those around the king, particularly his enemies.
Over the years jesters became very important for many reasons and some even became quite wealthy. It was the right and duty of the jester to stomp through all the political mud and throw a verbal pie in the face of pretension and hypocrisy. That made him very popular with some and very unpopular with others. The closest thing we have to the court jester today is the stand up comic, particularly if his act is about the politics of the day.
One of the real, historical jester of the past was a man named Archibald Armstrong. He was the court jester to King James I of England. James was the monarch who succeeded Elizabeth I and the man partly responsible for the King James Bible. "Archy" was a great favorite of the King's and also of Charles, his successor. He was awarded a pension and some land in Ireland. Archy's life was often threatened. He had an acid tongue for people he didn't like but he was a loyal employee of his king. The two kings he worked for relied on him. Charles even took him along to Spain where he served well. Armstrong wrote and published a book called "A Banquet of Jests." He and his wife eventually retired to Scotland where he had come from. Some say Archibald Armstrong was the jester that Shakespeare fashioned the fool in Lear after.
Here's the point of today's entry. I think one of the problems in the world today is the demise of the court jester. I really do believe that. I believe there ought to be a fool on the payroll of every king, prince, president, prime minister and any one else with the badge of authority on a national or international level, in the same way there is a poet laureate, an astronomer royal or a body guard. Naturally, some of the more humorless and self-important people in this world will object to being made fun of, but think how many self appointed authorities on politics and ideologies in America could benefit us all by having their ridiculous mud puddles stomped through and having verbal pies thrown in their pretentious and hypocritical faces. If the big time unreasonable and divisive bullies knew there was someone in the room who was allowed to point out their dirty underwear they might be more careful of what they say and decide to do.
There is a lot of awful inane behavior happening and stupid speeches being made in this country these day and I don't hear anyone laughing.
Lighten up folks and see the joke.
DB - The Vagabond
May your old summer gracefully become your young autumn.
This is not a contest.
A young man out west just took home 88 million dollars from the lottery.
Whether you play the lottery or not, if you suddenly had 88 million dollars, or the equivalent of whatever your currency is, what are the first three things you would do with it?
You have the summer to answer if you wish.
23 responses so far.