What skills should a jester possess?
July 26, 2011 2:55 PM   Subscribe

My friend is having a medieval themed wedding, and I have been asked to play the role of the jester. Other than juggling, what skills should I practice?

In December, my friend and his wife are renting some sort of castle and holding a medieval themed wedding. Everyone (under the age of 30, that is) will be dressing up and playing roles. I've been juggling for quite some time (3 ball, 5 ball, pins, etc.) so naturally I've been pegged as the jester. Other than juggling, I'm not quite sure what jester skills I should hone before the wedding.

Any particular magic tricks that would be easy and fun for the reception? Any musical instruments I should learn to play? I have very little shyness and self respect, so I'm open to anything. Also, I've been given free reign by the couple to do pretty much anything.
posted by sicem07 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (17 answers total)
Just learn a bunch of momma jokes and make fun of everyone. Jesters were frequently given pretty free license with this sort of thing.

Maybe break things at inopportune moments that will be OH NO but still HA HA.
posted by resurrexit at 3:06 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

A few funny, mildly bawdy rhymes about the couple would be in character.
posted by padraigin at 3:07 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you are good with the quick limerick, let fly! In general have fun pointing out things that people notice but would never say in polite company.

Any type of physical humor you are up for is also appropriate (step on a rake, trip and dump a pitcher of water on yourself, that sort of thing).
posted by meinvt at 3:09 PM on July 26, 2011

Play the lute and tell mildly off color jokes.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 3:10 PM on July 26, 2011

Prat falls ... set up a fake cake display and take it out.
posted by rube goldberg at 3:13 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Wear suitable clothing including obligatory fools hat with bells. Caper about. Get a list of guests in advance and prepare some equal opportunity gentle mockery for them,
including mimicry and comic poetry. Comic songs are good too if you can pull them off. General jests about marriage would work as well.

This is a lot like being a sports mascot only in different costuming.
posted by bearwife at 3:15 PM on July 26, 2011

Seconding the fake cake disaster suggested above. I would also suggest learning a bunch of really terrible puns, just put them on flashcards and go through them. Then when anything even tangential to one of them comes up in conversation, you can throw them in there. Every time you talk could be followed with a groan. I'd pick up a few doctor ones, a dentist pun or two, airline travel, just a nice cross section of topics so you'll be fully loaded all night. Short puns are great, long puns or shaggy dogs work too. My favorite is the 'Super calloused fragile mystic vexed with halitosis', but I'm sure you'll find some good ones if you go looking.
posted by Garm at 3:24 PM on July 26, 2011

I wouldn't worry about magic. The fake puns are a good idea, of course the hat with bells and standard jester gear.

I'd also consider making up some limericks or short poems about the couple that you can recite during the day as you are juggling and get an audience gathered around you.

This is great, by the way! It's cool you are doing this for them.
posted by misha at 3:29 PM on July 26, 2011

OMG, if you somehow got a duplicate cake to destroy then I guarantee that nobody would forget that wedding. Ever. You'd probably make it onto YouTube as well...
posted by TooFewShoes at 3:40 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

Plant a lot of things that seem like they "should be there".

During the evening, grab them and do your worst. Never let it on that you planted them there to begin with.
posted by Murray M at 4:02 PM on July 26, 2011

More than you strictly wanted to know about medieval instruments:

A historically accurate thing to play would be pipe and tabor. You play the pipe with one hand and beat the tabor with the other. It was often played by clowns and jesters, is quite a good party trick and neat to watch: YouTube, YouTube

However, playing a wind instrument means you can't sing at the same time-- so if you like singing, play something else. A historically accurate choice would be the hurdy-gurdy, but they can be expensive to get hold of and not everyone likes the sound. If you really want to make some enemies, play the dudelsack.

When it comes to strings, mandolin is fine substitute for a medieval gittern (and quite intuitive if you've played something tuned in fifths, like a violin or bass guitar, in the past.) The lute is a beautiful instrument, but can be expensive to acquire; it's still worth a try if you can find one to have a go on. Lastly, the lap harp or psaltery can be a good choice if you're used to thinking in piano-like scales. The number of strings means it takes a while to tune, but a good one should hold its tuning decently well and take only minor adjustments before each use.

On the whole, I'd recommend pipe and tabor-- if you have the coordination to juggle, I bet you can do this. The tunes tend to have lots of repeated bits, so you should be able to learn a song or two in time for the wedding. And if you play in bars thereafter, people will buy you drinks, guaranteed.

(Then you can graduate to two pipes at once, like this girl. Awesome.)
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:26 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

I suggest that for the role you bring a small deck of note cards.
No - bear with me.
Start with a set of bad jokes and a set of nice things about the bride and groom.

Call the jokes "A" and the nice things "B". Break each into sentences.
On each card write the first half of on A and second half of another A.
On each card write the first half of a B and the second half of a B.

You will take out your cards and start reading a complete joke. Pratfall and drop them all. Pick them up and continue reading them straight but now alternating A and B start and finished.

The result will be something like this:
"Shortly after Jack and Jill met, Jill said..." "...I guess any cock'll do!"
"They've long thought about their ideal wedding." "...but who let in the whole barnyard?"

Look puzzled.
Finish with something that's sweet and conveniently in order.
posted by plinth at 4:59 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

-Rhyme. Speaking in as much rhyme is hella jesterish, because it sounds childish and, well, foolish. Rhyme until it drives everyone crazy.

-Research bawdy period references to sex and the like. Throw in lots of double-entendres that are going to go over the wee-ones heads. Thrusting sword and spear references are a good place to start. Opening of palace gates and tasting of ripe fruit and such.

-Learn how to blow fire and not set your face alight.

-Get your Ricky Jay on and learn how to throw cards. The kids will love it.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 5:16 PM on July 26, 2011

As a Fool, you're also entitled to carry a bauble. Historically this is a stick with an inflated pig's bladder on the end that the fool could go around bopping people with. I think a balloon, possibly with confetti inside, would make a good bladder-substitute.
posted by Pallas Athena at 5:21 PM on July 26, 2011

While this sounds like a lot of fun, I'd be loath to make any jokes with the word "cock" in them. There's a fine line between "bawdy" and "embarrassingly offensive" and you won't necessarily know where that line is until the bride's grandfather punches you. But juggling and fake cake, awesome.
posted by cyndigo at 6:39 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Love the fake cake idea - but if you are doing this, make sure you let the couple know it's coming (especially if you use anything that looks even a little similar to their actual cake). If you do a good job of ruining a cake, most people will look to the bridal couple to see how they react - and the last thing you want is to upset the bride, even momentarily.
posted by Mchelly at 6:50 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

Watch The Court Jester just to get yourself in the swing of things. Have fun! (And the vessel with the pestle holds the brew which is true . . .)
posted by emhutchinson at 8:13 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

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