Happy Harlequin Hat

What's the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word jester?

It's the hat, isn't it?

Of course it is. That silly little hat with two or three cones made of cloth on top of it, bells or pompoms at the end, and usually with two or three colors.

Much like kings, castles, and knights, the jester hat seems to be synonymous with medieval times. However, contrary to popular belief, authentic jesters did not always wear this particular hat. For example, Will Sommers, Henry VIII's jester, wore a more poofy hat, like berets on each-other, with a cloth flower on top.

So, why is this hat so famous?

Some of this may be attributed to Stańczyk, one of the more famous jesters- or at least in Poland. Even then, his iconic hat wasn't a full example, being plain red instead of multicolored.

The hat itself represents a donkey—traditionally, the hat is worn with one flap forward, and the other two off to the side, representing the nose and ears, respectively. So the hat in a sense, represented how the jester would make an ass out of himself.

Examples:

Anime & Manga
  • Zazie Rainyday, from Mahou Sensei Negima!, though her hat is one color, two flaps, no bells. It still has the design, though.
  • One of Sakura's costumes, though it's like the above example.
    • Also, more than a few of the Clow Card spirits themselves wear hats like this.

Card Games
  • Depending on the artist, this is what The Joker wears in a standard pack of cards.
  • Found in Magic: The Gathering in the form of Jester's Cap, a version of the classic hat with many flaps. Later, a joke set mocked the Cap by introducing the ungodly Jester's Sombrero.

Comic Books
  • Of course, Harley Quinn's iconic red and black hat, though it has two flaps and no bells.
  • Merryman, leader of the Inferior Five, had one of those, though it was monochrome.
  • Minor Golden Age superhero the Jester (originally from Quality Comics, now owned by DC Comics) wore one (single coloured however).
  • Daredevil foe the Jester (no relation to the abovementioned character) also wears one.

Films — Animated
  • In Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the points of the King of Fools crown droop and have bells on the end like the flaps of a jester's cap.
  • In the "Steadfast Tin Soldier" segment from Fantasia 2000, the jack-in-the-box wears a harlequin hat to cover the fact that he's bald.

Films — Live-Action
  • The Court Jester sports a variation of one, two flaps, checkered, and with bells. Of course, he spends just as much time with it on as he does with it off.
  • Friar Carl wears one of these as part of his jester costume for the masquerade ball where he and the title character meet Dracula in the film Van Helsing. He twitches his head to make the bells ring in the graveyard where they stash the Frankenstein monster, out of anxiety, for laughs, or both.
  • The imaginatively named Jester from the Puppet Master films wears this.

Folklore
  • Till Eulenspiegel is a curious case. He originally didn't have one, going hatless or having a different jester hat. However, later adaptations and monuments have him wearing it.

Literature
  • The Fool from Wyrd Sisters has one of these. He also has bells on his hankerchief. Coming from a long line of jesters, and being sent to the Fools' Guild at an early age, he still remembers when he first realised that his outfit "had been carefully and meticulously designed for no other purpose than making its wearer look like a complete and utter pillock".
  • Willard Phule, of Robert Aspirin's Phule's Company picks for his military pseudonyms names that play on his own last name, starting as Lieutenant Scaramouche (fool character from Italian commedia dell'arte) before getting promoted to Captain Jester. He becomes so popular with his new troops that they adopt an unofficial patch for their uniforms: a skull with a jester's cap.
  • The cover art for Alan Gordon's Fools Guild Mysteries features figures wearing such a hat, and the main protagonists are a couple of professional jesters Theophilos (a.k.a. Feste from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night) and Claudia (a.k.a Viola from the same play). They are often depicted donning chalk makeup and costumes for performances.
  • Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Cask Of Amontillado". During Carnival, Fortunato is wearing jester's motley, including a cap with bells. Poe repeatedly mentions the bells jingling throughout the story.
    • In the same vein, his short story "Hop-Frog" features several jesters, all of whom "wore motley, with caps and bells".
  • Some jesters in A Song of Ice and Fire wear unique hats (usually called "fools' crowns"). Dontos wears a helmet, Patchface wears a headgear with fake antlers. But if a jester in question is not described as owning a special hat, artists usually draw one wearing the standard hat.
  • The titular character of the Sebastian Darke series wears one in the first book, which is even featured on the book's cover. However, he burns it near the beginning of the second book. But, near the end of the third book, he is given a new jester costume, complete with one of these.

Live-Action TV
  • The jesters in the Centauri court from Babylon 5 have hats almost exactly like this, for some reason.
  • Timothy Claypole wears a traditional one in the British television show Rentaghost

Music
  • The album cover for Cowboy Mouth's 1996 album "Are You With Me" features a pan up shot of a Jester with an iconic 3 coned hat. Although the photo is black and white (grey tones), the hat appears to be a dark and light color variation.
  • The Grateful Dead Songbook featured a skeleton wearing a droopy green jesters cap with bells, and holding a lute; the image went on to become one of their best-selling t-shirts, and spawned countless fan-art variations.

Newspaper Comics

Professional Wrestling
  • Ultimate Pro Wrestling school graduate Smelly used a two coned jester had as entrance attire.
  • Jeckles The Jester, seen in All Pro Wrestling, NWA Pro and others tends to be seen with a very long two toned, three cone dangling hat. Although almost as often seen without it. Then again, his walking stick has this design even when he doesn't wear it himself.
  • Despite his name, Giant Clown wore one of these in the Mexican based International Wrestling League, while teaming up with Beast The Clown and Doink the Clown against such enemies as Los Payasos Diabolicos and The Psycho Circus.

Radio

Theater
  • Oddly enough, Arlecchino, that is, the Harlequin from Commedia dell'Arte, occasionally subverts this trope in certain productions, wearing a hat more like Clopin's than the hat we all know and love.
  • In some versions of Twelfth Night, Feste wears this.
  • Touchstone from As You Like It wears this in some productions, and is believed by some to be the inspiration for the semi-famous reading jester picture. He is also the inspiration for the Fool Statue in Shakespeare's birthplace of Stratford-Upon-Avon.

Video Games
  • The Monster Clown Dimentio from Super Paper Mario has a variation of this.
  • On the subject of Monster Clowns, Shaco from the League of Legends series of video games wear this in all five of his skins.
  • Cicero from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim wears a variation of this, along with the rest of the outfit, after he kills a jester.
  • Malcolm in the Legend of Kyrandia games wears one. In the third game, wearing a leather jerkin and/or a squirrel as a disguise will also remove the hat and cause fewer people to recognize him, despite no change in his loud yellow-and-purple sleeves and leggings. The jester hat seems to be the only thing most laypeople remember about him!
  • Jester from Devil May Cry 3 unsurprisingly wears one of these as part of his outfit.
  • Harle from Chrono Cross wears one of these along side a full jester ensemble.
  • The Joker Jester hat in Ragnarok Online.
  • Evil court jesters Zorn and Thorn from Final Fantasy IX.
  • Several of the Acrobat-exclusive headgears in FlyFF.
  • The title character of NiGHTS into Dreams... has a mask-hat with two pointy two-tone flaps, but no bells, similar to Harley Quinn's outfit.
  • Timesplitters 2 has Viola, a vigilante who sneaks into the Notre Dame Cathedral to stop a cult leader, wearing this hat as part of her disguise.
  • The 5th stage boss of Touhou: Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom, Clownpiece, wears an odd four-coned variation, with two of the cones twisted around each other to connect to a single pompom.

Webcomics
  • These frequently show up in Homestuck.
  • Maytag wears a green cap in Flipside as part of her everyday outfit.

Western Animation
  • Alias the Jester has a traditional hat.
  • King of the Hill: Bobby Hill sports one in "Joust Like a Woman", though it's hard to tell whether or not there are any bells..
  • On The Simpsons when Homer talks a couple of late-middle-aged hippies into going on a "good old fashioned freak-out" he wears one of these while freaking the normals.
    Have no fear, the Cosmic Fool is here, to blow the lid off your conformist button-down world!
  • The aptly named Jester from Jane and the Dragon wears a variation of this, like the anime examples above.
  • Bugs Bunny wears one, with two flaps that fit over his ears, in "Knighty Knight Bugs".
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Pinkie Pie has an interesting variation that she wears in the second half of the Season 3 premiere; five colors and two flaps. note 

Real Life
  • As it's been mentioned before, jesters commonly wore these, though they weren't always multicolored.
  • The hat is almost as synonymous with Mardi Gras as it is with medieval times.
  • The members of the Staten Island Quartett Club [sic] sported these, though they had four flaps.