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Being a Jester is no Laughing Matter
by Mad Dog


I could do that. Sure Iíd have to make a costume and give up my summer weekends, but thatís a small price to pay for holding a bladder on a stick rather than eating one at the state fair.
They say if you snooze, you lose, and boy, are they right. A few weeks ago I missed the opportunity of a lifetime, to apply for the one job Iím perfectly suited for ó Official Court Jester of England. Sure Iím not English, look terrible in hats with long floppy points, and have to see a chiropractor if I even think about doing a pratfall, but none of these were listed as qualifications in the classified ad which recently appeared in The Times. Thatís the London Times, by the way. Sorry to disappoint those of you who think New York is the center of the Times universe.

   The ad read: ďJester wanted. Must be mirthful and prepared to work summer weekends in 2005. Must have own outfit (with bells). Bladder on stick provided if required. Salary to be negotiated. Auditions Saturday 7th August at the Festival of History, Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire.Ē

   I could do that. Sure Iíd have to make a costume and give up my summer weekends, but thatís a small price to pay for holding a bladder on a stick rather than eating one at the state fair. Get it, Bladder-On-A-Stick? See, I told you I was perfect for this job.

   Unfortunately the auditions were held just three days after the ad was placed so I missed them. I donít know what their rush was considering England hasnít employed a professional jester since King Charles I let Muckle John go in 1649. Okay, actually he didnít let Muckle go, it was Charlesí head that went, but along with it went Muckleís chance for continued employment since he no longer had a boss, the country no longer had a king, and that Cromwell guy didnít have much of a sense of humor.


We should consider having an Official Jester in the United States. Lord knows we could use it since life isnít very funny these days. 
   But no, English Heritage, which was behind the hiring, couldnít wait. They held the auditions and, since Eddie Izzard, Ali G, and Tony Blair didnít have time to get their jester costumes out of storage, ended up choosing Nigel Roder, who goes by the name Kester the Jester. You can just tell from his nom du clown that heís one funny guy. Okay, to be fair itís probably a whole lot funnier if you say his name while heís dancing around with his bladder on a stick. Not his bladder, I mean the one ó aw, forget it.

   Kester, or Mr. Jester as the more formal English prefer to call him, made his first official public appearance at a festival several weeks ago. He walked on stilts, juggled, and generally did whatever it is jesters do. His contract runs from next March through October, at which time, if the National Guild of Jesters has its way, there will be a more legitimate search, meaning if I bone up on my balloon animals and practice old Monty Python skits I still have a chance for the 2006 jester season.

   Yes, you read that right, there really is a National Guild of Jesters, an organization with a membership of 35. And yes, they did object to the hiring of Kester. And you thought we Americans had a corner on the killjoy market. The grumbling was led by Jonathan the Jester, who is the Official Fool for the city of Salisbury. Apparently all Jesters are related since they have the same last name. Either that or they adopt the surname so people can tell that theyíre jesters and not just your run-of-the mill buffoons. The truly interesting thing is that Jonathanís title proves Washington, DC isnít the only city with an Official Fool. Not that itís much of a consolation, but some days you take what you can get.


We need someone like Adam Sandler. Or Carrot Top. Someone who doesnít mind making a fool out of himself. Someone who thinks prancing around wearing a hat with bells while carrying a bladder on a stick is a small price to pay for making people smile.
   We should consider having an Official Jester in the United States. Lord knows we could use it since life isnít very funny these days. What with the war, slow economy, negative presidential campaign, and the debut of Joey, it would be nice if something would give us a few good belly laughs for a change. Think about it, we have a poet laureate no oneís ever heard of whose job it is to give us something serious to think about, yet we have no one to make us smile. Donald Rumsfeld isnít funny. Neither is Dick Cheney. President Bush is, but usually not intentionally. Besides, if we want malapropisms weíll pull Norm Crosby out of retirement and send him to the White House.

   No, we need someone like Adam Sandler. Or Carrot Top. Someone who doesnít mind making a fool out of himself. Someone who thinks prancing around wearing a hat with bells while carrying a bladder on a stick is a small price to pay for making people smile. In other words, someone without a lot of self-respect. Like me. Now if theyíll give me more than three daysí notice before the audition Iíll be able to try out. Iíll even put on a bad English accent if they want. After all, itís not often in life you get a second chance. As they say in the jester biz, carpe bladder.

©2004 Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country. Quit laughing!

 

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