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Fools

  • By: Eric Weitz
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

In general terms, a fool is a personage who invites amusement through mental deficiency or its appearance, or through insufficient awareness of the world and its workings. The broad ranks of the fool have included real people, professional entertainers, and folk figures, and in some cases uncertainty may remain as to which accounts are fact, fabrication, or a mingling of both. With notions of defect and inadequacy at the heart of their humorous agency, fools often find themselves in generic overlap with clowns, tricksters, and, as noted later, jesters in particular. Accounts of male fools greatly outnumber those of females, reflecting a gender imbalance common to all these figures.

Fools have been identified with amusement and entertainment in cultural histories around the world. Concepts of folly ...

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