The Discworld Companion:
The Fools' Guild
(Guild of Fools and Joculators and College of Clowns)

Terry Pratchett


Coat of arms: a shield, bisected dancette. The upper half, sable with a roundel, gules. Each lower point decorated with a clochette d'or. The lower half is bisected vertically, the right half being azure, the left half, argent.

The Fools' Guild Crest

The Guildhouse is located on the corner of God Street and Widdershins Broadway. One of the more recent Ankh-Morpork Guilds, although like the Assassins' Guild and Unseen University it is a major exporter of its graduates and has ancient origins among the circus fraternity.

The Guild was founded some 150 years before the present by Charles Nixon, former Fool to the Duke of Quirm. As with most of the Guilds it is also a hospital, craft standards enforcer, fraternal society and school- although unlike the other Guilds it will not accept for education boys not firmly apprenticed to clownship or Foolhardiness. It takes the sons of clowns and Fools, and it is also a charity school insofar as there is always a place and a custard pie in the face for any young boy with an amusing hump, speech impediment or other laughable deformity.

It is strange but instructive to contrast the Guild with the Assassins' Guild next door. One is a pleasant, airy building, whose corridors echo with the laughter of students and hum with quiet activity of people working hard in a job they love- the other is gaunt, forbidding and silent except for the occasional muffled sob. One leaves its gates open most of the time and its graduates are considered to brighten up any party- the other operates its wretched craft behind locked doors and its members are regarded with disdain by right-thinking people. One turns out people who, admittedly, must in the course of their duties, sometimes stab, poison or otherwise inhume their patients- but at least they never ask them to believe that pouring whitewash down someone's trousers is funny.

One important function of the Guild is the maintenance of the Hall of Faces, which is primarily for the clown members. Clowns are not particularly identified by their names, which serve more to identify the *variety* of clown, but by their faces. No two clowns are allowed to have the same make-up, and the Hall of Faces contains hundreds of eggs, each one painted with the face of a Guild member. It is said to be a very unpleasant place in which to spend the night.

(c) Terry and Lyn Pratchett, and Stephen Briggs 1994 and 1997

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