- "Do you hear my lady, Ser Dontos? From this day, you'll be my new fool."
- ―King Joffrey Baratheon
A fool or jester is a performer employed to provide entertainment to members of a King or lord's court.
- Dontos Hollard, known as "Dontos the Red", a knight stripped of his title and forced into the role by King Joffrey Baratheon.
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels there are several fools besides Dontos Hollard. Moon Boy is the other resident fool at the Red Keep. Butterbumps is the obese fool of House Tyrell. The mad Patchface, a former slave at Volantis, is the court fool of Stannis Baratheon, having been purchased and made free by Lord Steffon Baratheon during the time of the Mad King.
Meanwhile, Lord Walder Frey employs his own lackwit grandons, Aegon - son of Ser Stevron Frey - who is dubbed "Jinglebell". Medieval societies were not "politically correct" by modern standards, and frequently forced the mentally and physically handicapped into demeaning positions as court jesters for the petty amusement of the court - often the term "court fool" literally referred to a "fool", i.e. mentally handicapped person. In Westeros and beyond, dwarfs are also often used as court jesters - unlike mentally handicapped fools such as Jinglebell Frey, dwarfs are physically but not mentally handicapped, which means they are often expected to come up with witty jests and japes to entertain the court. This is a demeaning position for the mentally/physically handicapped, but better than simply being left in the woods to die as an infant. Tyrion directly explains to Jon Snow that centuries of dwarfs serving as court fools and jesters have made people used to the idea that dwarfs can say whatever critical japes they want - the result being that Tyrion usually just says whatever witty insults happen to pop into his head, without fearing the repercussions.
Due to their lowly status, however, fools are often ignored by nobles at court, leaving them in the perfect position to overhear secrets. More than a few court fools at King's Landing are on the payroll of Littlefinger or Varys (or both).