Jesting J

Surely you jest!



For a Coulrophobic (that’s someone who has a fear of clowns), I have a dirty little secret. I really enjoy jesters. Show me a clown and I’ll run for the hills. But put a jester in front of me and I smile.

Not sure why that is. Maybe it’s the funny hat. The bells. Or the scepter they carry with a little mini replica of their head on it. Maybe it’s the diamond-patterned fashion they tend to wear.

Yeah, maybe it’s that.


I wasn't joking when I said he looked great in spandex.

No, I think what really fascinates me (more than my favorite singer wearing harlequin spandex the color of rainbow sherbert) is the fact that jesters were not only allowed in the royal court, but that they held a position of privilege. Jesters could give bad news to the King that nobody else would dare deliver.  I enjoy the power behind the folly, the nimble wit that had to walk a tightrope of tact lest they offend.

Here are some other cool jesters – in history, literature and in song.


This chap is a knave, actually. This card, from The Cloisters Museum in NYC, is from a set of fifty-two cards – the only known complete deck of illuminated ordinary playing cards (as opposed to tarot cards) from the fifteenth century.

Some light reading for a rainy day: Fools are Everywhere: The Court Jester Around the World by Beatrice K. Otto

Script For a Jester's Tear

Brilliant first album by prog rock band Marillion.

The fool escaped from paradise will look over his shoulder and cry

Sit and chew on daffodils and struggle to answer why?

As you grow up and leave the playground

Where you kissed your prince and found your frog

Remember the jester that showed you tears

The script for tears.

  –  “Script for a Jester’s Tear” – Marillion


7 thoughts on “Jesters

  1. M says:

    I use a lot of playing cards (backs) in my art work but always save the Jokers. I’ve collected a number of Joker cards by now, though… and imagine I’ll continue. I never knew why either… and until now never gave it much thought. Hm. Interesting! 🙂

  2. cassam101 says:

    Very interesting about Jesters at court in days of yore!

  3. Random says:

    Have you read Fool by Christopher Moore?

    It doesn’t seem like a huge stretch to see how a person could be terrified of clowns but not of jesters. Clowns are kind of freaky.

    • jesstopper says:

      I haven’t, but will check it out – thanks for the recommendation! Perhaps it’s the make-up. I don’t trust anyone with a painted-on perma-grin. Or perma-grimace. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. lynn w. proctor says:

    hmmm i guess they are, clowns and jesters, really different—but are jesters, really suppose to be funny–interesting comparision

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