Although Shakespeare lived and wrote some 400 years ago, his sharp observations of human nature are still true and valid today. From the merely foolish to the crafty, practical jokers and hypocrites, Shakespeare's comic characters display an understanding of the world and humanity of the deepest kind all delivered brilliantly with the medium of laughter.
The role of the comedies in the theatrical world is similar to the role of carnivals in real life. They are an alternative to the official order where one can express a different opinion, where traditional hierarchy doesn’t apply and clowns and fools can mock the authority. In tune with Elizabethan theatre traditions they offer wit and laughter by the bucket full in the shape of Shakespeare’s fools/clowns/jesters/jokers. Many of the fools are the paid entertainers hired by aristocraric households to provide amusement. While in real life the court jester would have been a poor or disabled boy, Shakespeare's fool is foolish only on first appearance.