Updated: Sep 9, 2022
Who doesn't love a good laugh? Whether it be in a funny book, a mystery, or a dark fantasy, characters that offer comic relief or moments of lightness after chapters of the characters going through hell are more important than we give them credit for.
A story that's completely dark and serious may hold your interest but eventually, it's going to get old. You need a Jester to mix things up, make someone laugh, or make a joke at the wrong time and get your characters into even more trouble than they were before!
The Jester archetype can be used in so many different ways when it comes to writing a story. While they can be the comic relief character, they can also be the trickster or the storyteller.
Do you need a devious antagonist that makes trouble for your protagonist and amps up the stakes? A Jester can be the perfect solution. Or do you need a character that knows some folk lore or long lost story that your protagonist needs to complete their mission? The Jester can be the one that gives them that last clue. This archetype is really versatile.
Don't let the Jester name fool you (pun inteded). This isn't just the Bard or the Joker or the characters that gets into messes that the protagonist needs to get them out of (hello, Jasker from The Witcher lol). They can be the villain. And aren't funny, twisted villains much scarier than the straight evil ones? They make you wonder what's going on inside their head. Is their joke just a joke or does it mean something else for your hero? Jester antagonists are epic. Just look at Rumple from Once Upon a Time!
But there's also the storytelling Jester. The one who knows something that no one else seems to and maybe they don't give it up so easily. The character that could have a book of their own, but maybe in your story, they help move the story forward. They provide the protagonist with a much needed fact that will get them closer to their destination.
So whether you need comic relief throughout your story to break up the dark moments, a devious, sly character that always has a trick up their sleeves, or someone who is keeping a vital fact or story close to their chest, the Jester archetype is not one to be discounted. It might be just the thing your story needs to really make it shine.
About the author: Sarah Perchikoff is a writer and bookworm. She lives with her miniature dachshund named Gracie. You can find her on Twitter @sperchikoff or at her book review blog, Bookish Rantings.