The history of clowns is interesting, especially the clowns of the renaissance. There were some that held court to kings proudly and respectfully. Others seemed to be the poor tools of entertainment forroyalty simply because of their height, weight, or some unknown birth defect. Indeed, being a jester could be a wonderful life, or a day to day struggleof people laughing at you for features that you couldn't control. In those times,they thought you were cursed or had done something to deserve it.
There were also clowns of the stage. They led well paid lives acting out the plays of William Shakespeare as well as other playwrights. Being a clown was an interesting occupation either way, but it seem to be mostly fun and games. They could speak freely on the actions of a king and pretend that it was a joke. That was a privelege indeed. As long as the jesters or fools kept the king happy, they could feast with him, live in the castle, and there was even perform specially for the Pope.
Since fools were well loved by their masters, they might even recieve part of a King's estate if he died. Many kings left things to their beloved jesters in their wills. But being a jester wasn't always fun. Some of them were freaks or dwarves. These poor people were prisoners of kings and queens. They could only hope for a dead master that would leave something to them. Many just wished that their masters were dead.
Many fools were very good at storytelling or fortunetelling. They would go to nearby towns once a week and perform for crowds. They would sometimes put on entire plays. They had to work hard at memorizing the lines since they could perform as many characters in one play, switching rolls constantly.
Along with jesters, there were vice clowns. The vice clowns were first seen in the begining of the renaissance. At that time, many people were extremely serious about religion. The vice was dressed as a devil or demon and represented the Seven Deadly Sins. He was often seen telling heroes evil thoughts or making them disbelieve in themselves. Later on, he started to look rather like a jester. He was ususally an energetic baffoon with a wooden dagger.
And of course, there was always the mime. The mime first started in the renaissance and still continues today. They were mostly in Rome, but gradually spread throughout Europe and the rest of the world. Now they perform on the street or at circuses like most clowns.
Clowns of today perform mostly slapstick comedy, such as pies in the face or tripping over things. Many of them travel with circuses around the world and get to work with animals and such. Most of them are not storytellers like their forefathers. There still seems to be the same amount of joy and comedy around the circus clowns of today which brings us back to old thoughts of Shakesperian times and makes us laugh. Surely, clowns have led very interesting and emotional roles throughout history. And from all of it comes making life a little happier for the people around them.
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