You may know them as jokers, as fools in Shakespeare’s tragic plays and clowns in a more modern setting. However, all of these names refer to the same character; a court jester. These jesters are people who are employed by ruling monarchs to provide them with general entertainment. They are more prevalent in European monarchy, but there are various versions of court jesters all over the world. Contrary to popular belief, jesters are actually legitimately employed professionals. Despite being referred to as jokers, there are actually licensed to do their jobs and are not the freeloading bums that most people think of. In fact, they are artists in their own right. Capable of entertaining royalty with their skills in music, clowning, juggling and telling riddles. But these jesters are not limited to performing for a royal court. In both Italy and France, there are traveling groups of jesters that performed all sorts of highly stylized characters in one of the earliest forms of theatre referred to as the Commedia Dell’Arte. These flamboyant artists are also well known for the way they costumed themselves. In order to match their larger than life personas, they wore brightly colored clothing which was sometimes laden with prints. They also wore eccentric looking hats that had three distinct floppy points that each had a bell at the end. Besides their garb, jesters are also known for their raucous laughter and their mock scepter. Some of them carried puppets as well as other props around.
Now, if you are looking for really unique Halloween costumes that would make you stand out from the sea of witches, zombies and vampires that often crowd the streets during Halloween, then you should certainly consider dressing up as a jester. Besides the fact that you would be totally unique and have a great history to accompany your costume, creating a jester costume is not as difficult as some people think it might be. Jesters wore distinctive and colorful tights which they wore under an equally colorful tunic. Now, for this, you can have someone sew it for you, create one out of an old dress or shirt or simply purchase one online.
Next, you’ve got to find yourself a fancy jester’s hat. You can create one out of felt and old Christmas bell decorations that you might have lying around. Don’t worry about looking silly because that is the whole point of this costume. Also, do carry some kind of prop around with you. A marionette or a mock scepter fashioned out of some tubes and wrapping paper should do just as well. But the most important thing here is to have the same comical and fantastical persona that these jesters had. That is the thing that would bring your whole look together.
Jesters are more than just harbingers of laughter; they are also artistes and masters of their craft. Keep that in mind when portraying one, even if it’s just for Halloween. Remember, you may be playing the fool but you do not want people to see you as such. Jesters are masters of wit. Make sure that your whole look and persona reflects that.