William Schwenck Gilbert
The Family Fool - Poem by William Schwenck Gilbert
Oh! a private buffoon is a light-hearted loon,
If you listen to popular rumour;
From morning to night he's so joyous and bright,
And he bubbles with wit and good humour!
He's so quaint and so terse, both in prose and in verse;
Yet though people forgive his transgression,
There are one or two rules that all Family Fools
Must observe, if they love their profession.
There are one or two rules,
That all family fools,
Of whatever degree,
Must observe if they love their profession.
If you wish to succeed as a jester, you'll need
To consider each person's auricular:
What is all right for B would quite scandalise C
(For C is so very particular);
And D may be dull, and E's very thick skull
Is as empty of brains as a ladle;
While F is F sharp, and will cry with a carp,
That he's known your best joke from his cradle!
When your humour they flout,
You can't let yourself go;
And it DOES put you out
When a person says, "Oh!
I have known that old joke from my cradle!"
If your master is surly, from getting up early
(And tempers are short in the morning),
An inopportune joke is enough to provoke
Him to give you, at once, a month's warning.
Then if you refrain, he is at you again,
For he likes to get value for money:
He'll ask then and there, with an insolent stare,
"If you know that you're paid to be funny?"
It adds to the tasks
Of a merryman's place,
When your principal asks,
With a scowl on his face,
If you know that you're paid to be funny?
Comes a Bishop, maybe, or a solemn D.D. -
Oh, beware of his anger provoking!
Better not pull his hair - don't stick pins in his chair;
He won't understand practical joking.
If the jests that you crack have an orthodox smack,
You may get a bland smile from these sages;
But should it, by chance, be imported from France,
Half-a-crown is stopped out of your wages!
It's a general rule,
Though your zeal it may quench,
If the Family Fool
Makes a joke that's TOO French,
Half-a-crown is stopped out of his wages!
Though your head it may rack with a bilious attack,
And your senses with toothache you're losing,
And you're mopy and flat - they don't fine you for that
If you're properly quaint and amusing!
Though your wife ran away with a soldier that day,
And took with her your trifle of money;
Bless your heart, they don't mind - they're exceedingly kind -
They don't blame you - as long as you're funny!
It's a comfort to feel
If your partner should flit,
Though YOU suffer a deal,
THEY don't mind it a bit -
They don't blame you - so long as you're funny!
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