3. THE COMIC FIGURE
Having established as clearly as we can the structural divisions of performance space and the way in which the behaviour within it is assigned a meaning by the audience outside the space, we now attempt to identify a specific cultural character who performs within it. The aim here is to identify as best we can the performer whose primary function is to amuse, whom we shall refer to simply as ‘the comic figure’. This will mainly involve individuals performing in their own right e.g. the court jester, but it will also take in mythical characters such as tricksters and dramatic characters such as the Harlequin figure made popular by the Commedia del’Arte. Comic figures have appeared in such a wide variety of guises in different times and places that it is necessary to begin with a look at some of the terms that have been used to discuss them.
3. The Comic Figure