Today, in celebration of April Fool’s, some of my favorite quotes from the Fools, clowns, buffoons, rascals, imps and asses that have populated Shakespeare’s stage:

“You taught me language; and my profit on’t Is, I know how to curse.”

–Caliban, The Tempest, Act I Scene ii 

“Let her hang me: he that is well hanged in this world needs to fear no colors.”

–Feste, Twelfth Night, Act I Scene v 

“O kiss me through the hole of this vile wall!”

–Nick Bottom, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act V Scene i 

“Dost thou know the difference, my boy, between a bitter fool and sweet fool?”

–Fool, King Lear, Act I Scene iv 

“’Sblood, you starveling, you elf-skin, you dried neat’s tongue, you bull’s pizzle, you stock-fish! Oh for breath ot utter what is like thee! You tailer’s yard, you sheath, you bowcase; you vile standing-tuck,–”

–Falstaff, Henry IV Part 1, Act II Scene iv 

“The more pity that fools may not speak wisely that wise men do foolishly.”

–Touchstone, As You Like It, Act I Scene ii 

“The pox of such antic, lisping, affecting fantasticoes; these new tuners of accents! ‘By Jesu, a very good blade! A very tall man! A very good whore!”

–Mercutio, Romeo and Juliet, Act II Scene iv

“When we are born, we cry that we are come To this great stage of fools.”

–Lear, King Lear, Act 4 Scene vi 

The image of Roger Allam in the role of Falstaff at the Globe Theatre in London.

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