Where are all the jesters?

I read on another blog recently (can’t remember where!) a one-liner about the role of the jester in court life. One of the privileges that was afforded the court jester was his freedom to speak his mind when no-one else could. He (or she, but mostly he) could poke fun at the lords and ladies and even the royals themselves. Their role was not only to bring comedy and generally run amok, but also to speak the truth and have permission to keep everyone in their place. What a cool job 🙂 If I could spend my days being paid to make people laugh one minute and speak the truth to them the next, I would nearly die from sheer enjoyment and job satisfaction!

It seems to me that one of the things wrong in our society is that we have no court jesters – there’s a distinct lack of ‘no-men’ but an abundance of ‘yes-men’ in our political parties, our big businesses and in pretty much any other hierarchical system around.

One of the things I love about our Aussie culture, is the good natured teasing. You know someone loves and accepts you when they make fun of you 🙂 The more enthusiastic the banter between friends, the greater the love. And somehow, we all know where the line is, and it’s rarely crossed.

We have had to teach two of our children in particular to learn how to laugh at themselves and how to take a joke. I’m not advocating for bullying or taunting, but the world is not going to treat us with kid gloves, so we need to teach our children how to roll with the punches and laugh along with the joke, even if they are the subject. And, importantly, how to not take offence. (On a side note, how debilitating and deflating to a nasty bully if their subject laughs and joins in the joke! Very effective at defusing tense situations.)

I know some adults who could do with having a court jester in their lives, not only to make them smile but to bring some truth. With all our pop psychology these days about [cue rainforest soundtrack] ‘surrounding ourselves with good energy and only those who accept and love us as we are’, it’s easy to see why people are becoming more sensitive and self centred. What those type of quotes are really saying is ‘surround yourself with people who think exactly the way you do and are not going to point out when you are doing something wrong, hurtful or selfish’. Essentially, do away with the court jester and only allow the ‘yes-men’ into your circle of friends.

I’m lucky enough to have a few jesters in my life, and I am so very thankful. They keep me grounded in reality, frequently tell me things I don’t necessarily want to hear and don’t allow me to ignore those character traits that need adjustment.They also help me to laugh at myself and life in general.

Do you have a court jester?

11 thoughts on “Where are all the jesters?

  1. I think anyone with teenagers has no shortage of court jesters in their lives. Are there any of us, Americans or Aussies, who have not heard “Mom” pronounced “Mah-om”? (Or whatever the Aussie equivalent is for Mum). You don’t even have to see the eye-roll to know it is there. Our job as mothers is to teach them how not to cross those lines into inappropriate behavior but their job as teenagers is to give us a little reality check ever so often.


    • Yes, although there is always the danger that with teenagers, it’s their version of the truth about us…which can be somewhat skewed due to things like not getting the car keys when they want, having to tidy up after themselves or come home at a reasonable time! They can also be a little bit snarky which my jesters aren’t 😉


  2. OMG, sign me up! I love to joke and laugh and poke a little fun (in a nice way, never in a harmful way). Most people up here in ND, if they are from here, just don’t get me. Thankfully, I have found a small handful of friends that do get me. Though most of the time I’m met with, “You’re not from here, are you?” Ha! My daughter-in-law and I poke fun at each other all the time – about sports teams mostly. She’s a Cowboy fan, I like the Eagles. She’s a Yankees fan, I like the Phillies. My son and I also poke each other from time to time. Jesting makes the world revolve! Love this post, Susannah.


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