Never Try to Outsmart a Comedian

Photo by John Nail on

Priest asks Jester to amuse him. In an elaborate ruse, Jester collects 300 roubles from Priest’s wife to buy 1200 pounds of fish. No fish. Priest doesn’t much like that trick. He can’t catch Jester, so he’s out the money.

Jester tricks Merchant by substituting a goat for himself. He tricks seven greedy jesters three times. The change ups are funny, as is staying one step ahead of a powerful adversary who’s not up to speed.

Abused by the jesters, Jester lures them into sacks to drown in the lake. An early grave to those who can’t outsmart a comedian.

From The Jester in Russian Fairy Tales by Aleksandr Afanas’ev

2 thoughts on “Never Try to Outsmart a Comedian

  1. Seems I would have to do some background reading to get the read-between-the-lines of this short story – you are straying from the Brothers Grimm and from Andersen!


  2. First published in English in 1945, the collection by Aleksander Afanas’ev was praised by Eudora Welty. The 1975 edition had a favorable review in the NYT Book Review by Isaac Bashevis Singer. Not Brothers Grimm, but worth a look. Also, my husband had the same complaint about reading between the lines. My usual fractured fairy tales depend on the reader knowing the story. So, yeah, a bit of work, but maybe worth it.


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