503. Retreat (XIV)
Comedians are not fools. The difference between the fool and the comedian is that the fool gives his honest view as to the situation, whereas the comedian seeks to entertain people. Entertainment is a distraction from your humdrum affairs, as such it often involves concealment—it is a rational enterprise, usually aimed at making a living and gaining some renown. It is not concerned with frankness; quite often there is no market for frankness. As the Fool in Lear puts it: “I marvel what kin thou and thy daughters are. They’ll have me whipp’d for speaking true; thou’lt have me whipp’d for lying; and sometimes I am whipp’d for holding my peace. I had rather be any kind o’thing than a fool!” In other words, the fool—even when employed to behave as such—can expect to be beaten, whereas the comedian does not seek such danger. Yet, as Blake observes, “The fool who persists in his folly shall become wise.” Comedians are never wise, just funny.
There is nothing wrong with comedy—nothing wrong with being an entertainer, although arguably Western societies currently suffer from a glut in entertainment. It is just that the fool is not a comedian; he cuts a lot deeper than that—precisely because he is careless in his frankness, and his carelessness makes him a holy fool. The comedian, by contrast, has a routine and cultivates an image—true, sometimes he skewers power (sometimes), but it is by no means inherent to his role. There is a misconception that totalitarian states cannot tolerate comedy, but this is wrong: they can tolerate comedy—the USSR had an official satire mag, Krokodil, and Hitler’s Germany had revue shows. Fools, on the other hand…
The idea that comedy is subversive is itself a leftist meme. In the 1980s, there was a craze for politicised stand-up comedy—with politically orthodox jokes about Thatcher and Reagan. The idea that comedy was a weapon against “tyranny” probably originates here. Indeed, contemporary comedy, always progressive, is not always unfunny; it is just politically orthodox, and contemporary comedians are among the most orthodox people around.
This is because people become comedians because they are weak; they are bullied at school but instead of becoming physically strong they learn to make everyone laugh. This is power, but it is psychologically manipulative feminine power. Hence comedians are often resentful, when they become successful they never feel like they really earned the adulation they enjoy. Further, since they abase themselves they can never be respected as real men: men seek respect and not popularity—the comedian is popular, but he abases himself to be so. He can mock generals and presidents and adventurers, but deep down these men command respect in a way a comedian never can.
The fool, by contrast, has no act. This is because he does not seek an audience; the fool has a patron—a powerful man, such as Lear, who pays the fool to be a reckless lunatic who is actually frank with a man who is otherwise surrounded by total liars and manipulators. The Fool in Lear is described as Lear’s “shadow”—the unacceptable reality, per Jung, that is repressed. The Fool warns Lear that he has made catastrophic decisions, but Lear ignores his shadow and so dooms his kingdom to civil war—as the Fool observes: “Truly that is good foolin’, m’lord.” Note well, Lear causes a civil war when he hands his kingdom to his daughters—just as contemporary Western men compete to hand power to their daughters via feminism today.
In short, fools are holy—and so are jokers; a joker, per a standard card pack, being decked in a fool’s motley. Part of the joke in the film Joker (2019) is that the main character wants to be a comedian, but he is not funny; however, instead he eventually becomes a fool—in his desperation he tells the unacceptable truth about Gotham that everyone has suppressed, and so unleashes divine anarchy.