THE JESTER / THE FOOL
“Only a fool tests the depth of the water with both feet.” – African Proverb
Typical of a European monarch, the Jester was a person employed to tell jokes and provide general entertainment. Jesters wore brightly colored clothes and eccentric three point hats, each point representing the donkey’s ears and tail worn by jesters in earlier times. So clearly, Donkey (Eddie Murphy) in DreamWorks Animated Shrek (2001) is a literal representation of the original jesters.
But similar to other character types, the jester has evolved over time, and the terms fool or buffoon – someone who provides amusement through inappropriate appearance and/or behavior – may even be a better terms to reflect the modern usage of the role. The modern day fool is a clown-like, publicly amusing person, who displays inappropriate vulgar, bumbling, or ridiculous behavior that is a source of general amusement.
Often the main protagonist is personified as a jester (think Will Ferrell in Elf or Steve Martin in The Nerd); however, the fool is more often represented as a supporting role, one who means well most of the time, but constantly messes up the hero’s plans with his or her physical mistakes.
The Jester/Fool in film:
Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), a regal tang fish with short term memory loss that tags along with the clownfish Marlin (Albert Brooks) as they travel together to find his Marlin’s son Nemo. – Finding Nemo (2003)
Jack Lopate(Thomas Haden Church), Miles Raymond’s (Paul Giamatti) soon-to-be-married actor best friend and college roommate who committed to “sowing his wild oats” with a few last sexual flings. – Sideways (2004)
Lawrence ‘Chunk’ Cohen (Jeff Cohen), a fat, clumsy, food-loving Goonie, who is captured by the Fratellis, yet befriends the strong but gentle Sloth, and together saves the Goonies in the end. – The Goonies (1985)
Gale (John Goodman) and Evelle Snoats (William Forsythe), Herbert “H.I.” McDunnough’s (Nicolas Cage) escaped prison buddies, who deduce Junior’s identity and steal the baby for financial gain. – Raising Arizona (1987)
Leo Getz (Joe Pesci), the crooked, loudmouthed accountant and Federal witness, who Murtaugh (Danny Glover) and Riggs (Mel Gibson) have been reassigned to protect. – Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)