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Ship of Fool

Trowbridge's collection focuses on the fool archetype.

Trowbridge’s collection focuses on the fool archetype.

William Trowbridge’s Ship of Fool consists primarily of poems about a character based on the fool archetype, which appears not only in silents and standups (e.g. Keaton, Pryor, Woody Allen) but also in tales running back to the beginning of storytelling. To borrow from Yiddish comedy, he is a combination of schlemiel and schlimazel. The difference is that the schlemiel is a bungler who’s always accidentally breaking things and spilling stuff on people and the schlimazel is a sad sack who’s always getting his things broken and getting stuff spilled on him. Trowbridge’s Fool is both. He is often treated harshly, which seems to come simply from his being a fool. Most fool figures, though “comic,” are subjected to a great deal of violence. The very term “slapstick” derives from this.

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