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Monday, June 10, 2013

Character Archetypes 101: The Jester

Today, I've got the Jester on my couch. I had to take away his whoopee cushion before he took a seat, but no harm, no foul. The Jester is also known in archetype circles as The Fool, Trickster, Comedian, or Joker.

The "Good"

As you can imagine, the Joker likes to be funny and spontaneous. Practical jokes are often a part of their repertoire, and they are never caught off guard because they think on their feet. They dearly love to laugh, and believe each moment needs to be lived to the fullest. They live with freedom and play hard. 

Jesters get psyched when they can use their wit and humor to lighten up a stressful situation or turn laborious work and mundane tasks into something fun and light-hearted. They can motivate others to do this as well, which makes people gravitate toward them. Life's absurdities are something to be poked fun at, and one need not put on airs to do so.  They like to be exactly who they are, which is usually charismatic, magnetic, mischievous, and clever.

They have a gift for telling the truth and imparting wisdom, and they do so softly, in a way that others can hear and respond to positively. In the olden days, a court jester was there so amuse the members of the court, but they also stood behind the king and offered him discernment on the actions of others who came before the throne. So while definitely not the center of power, they play an important role on the sidelines.

The "Bad"

Just as the Jester wishes people would lighten up and not be so serious, many of the Jester's friends wish the exact opposite of him: to be more serious and not so frivolous. It's difficult to carry on an important conversation with a Jester who makes quips to deliberately lighten a somber atmosphere, which is at odds with the topic needing to be discussed. 

The shadow side of the Jester can be quite evil and petty. Their quick wit and even quicker tongue can deliver the most cutting, sarcastic lines, critical remarks, and cruel jokes. Their humor can be twisted to be hurtful instead of uplifting and positive. They might also tend toward con-artistry or other forms of manipulation.

Some Jesters are prone to dissipation and wasting time, who have difficulty staying on task. One source went as far to say the Jester could be so irresponsible and debauched as to be a "glutton, sloth or lecher wholly defined by the lists and urges of the body without any sense of dignity or self-control." 

Likely Goals

To live in the moment
To have fun and enjoy life
To lighten up the world

Likely Fears

To be bored with lack of stimulation
To bore others
To not be "alive" 

Examples in the Media

Stanley Tucci as Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ellen DeGeneres as Dori in Finding Nemo
Jean Stapleton as Edith Bunker on All in the Family
Will Ferrell as Buddy in Elf
Melissa McCarthy as Megan in Bridesmaids
Michael Richards as Kramer in Seinfeld
Matt LeBlanc as Joey in Friends 
Anything Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler, or Jim Carey ever played
The Iguana in Tangled
The Carpet in Aladdin

Archetypes Who've Completed Therapy

The Innocent
The Orphan
The Hero  
The Caregiver
The Explorer 
The Rebel
The Lover
The Creator

Let's Analyze

Very few female examples are given because this role traditionally goes to a male. Modern comedies most always feature a male. Any other female examples to add?