A jester, court jester, or fool was a member of the household of a nobleman or a monarch employed to entertain guests during the medieval and Renaissance eras. Jesters were also itinerant performers who entertained common folk at fairs and town markets, and the discipline continues into the modern-day, where jesters perform at historically-themed events.

Hinric Hasenberger, the Court Jester by David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl, 1652
"Keying Up" – The Court Jester by William Merritt Chase 1875. (Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.)

During the Middle Ages, jesters are often thought to have worn brightly colored clothes and eccentric hats in a motley pattern. Their modern counterparts usually mimic this costume. Jesters entertained with a wide variety of skills: principal among them were song, music, and storytelling, but many also employed acrobatics, juggling, telling jokes (such as puns, stereotypes, and imitation), and performing magic tricks. Much of the entertainment was performed in a comic style. Many jesters made contemporary jokes in word or song about people or events well known to their audiences.

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This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Jester, and is written by contributors. Text is available under a CC BY-SA 4.0 International License; additional terms may apply. Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.