Thursday, March 05, 2009


From the Wikipedia entry on "jester"...

In societies where freedom of speech was not recognized as a right, the court jester - precisely because anything he said was by definition "a jest" and "the uttering of a fool" - could speak frankly on controversial issues in a way in which anyone else would have been severely punished for, and monarchs understood the usefulness of having such a person at their side. Still, even the jester was not entirely immune from punishment, and he needed to walk a thin line and exercise careful judgment in how far he might go - which required him to be far from a "fool" in the modern sense.

Jesters could also give bad news to the King that no-one else would dare deliver. The best example of this is in 1340 when the French fleet was destroyed at the Battle of Sluys by the English. Phillippe VI's jester told him the English sailors: "Don't even have the guts to jump into the water like our brave French."

The position of the Joker playing card, as a wild card which has no fixed place in the hierarchy of King, Queen, Knave etc. might be a remnant of this position of the court jester. This lack of any place in the hierarchy meant Kings could trust their councel more. They had no vested interest in any region, estate or church.


GothamTomato said...

Yes, this was a brilliant smackdown.

But he also did another smackdown, I believe it was earlier thisz week, that was equally brilliant - aimed at the thoroughly repulsive Rush Limbaugh.

Stewart has been on a terrifically pointed roll lately.

Tommy Moore said...

Re: The Joker's place in the deck of cards -
Some dealers keep the jokers in, let them be "wild".
Some dealers, first thing they do is 'throw out the jokers'.
Be careful who you give the cards to!