In the later comedies Shakespeare’s fools deliver paradox and wordplay, creating new conceptions, introducing new ideas and doubts in order to expose the ridiculous. Touchstone in Shakespeare's play As You like It offers his observations with self-irony, parodying court manners and wise men:
Says, very wisely, ‘It is ten o’clock.
Thus we may see’ quoth he, ‘how the world wags:
‘Tis but an hour ago since it was nine,
And after one hour ‘twill be eleven;
And so from hour to hour we ripe and ripe,
And then from hour to hour we rot and rot.
As a court jester, his job is to expose true foolishness and bring things down to earth; here targeting Orlando’s romantic love with the language of working people:
I remember when I was in love I broke my sword upon a stone and bid him take
that for coming a-night to Jane Smile, and I remember the kissing of her batlet, and
the cow’s dugs that her pretty chapped hands had milked…
The fool’s joke is: who is the real fool here? The character that is supposed to be the object of everybody’s laughter reveals the real life fools:
I have trod a measure; I have flattered a lady;
I have been politic with my friend, smooth with mine enemy;
I have undone three tailors….