“I got a promise I will not be going to jail.” So began comedian Trevor Noah’s set at the 2022 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, the Washington equivalent of a comedy “roast.” With his impunity assured, Noah’s job that night was to continue a long-standing tradition of the yearly gala: to publicly mock the president of the United States. Noah may not have realized it, but his set—with its lighthearted jabs at President Biden’s stalled agenda—tapped into a ritual that long precedes today’s high-society dinners. In medieval and Renaissance courts, it was the role of the jester to mock the king and his noblemen and elicit their laughter. The concept of “jester’s privilege” protected his right to ridicule without facing the chopping block—within reason. This story is from Kinfolk Issue Forty-Five Buy Now Related Stories Arts & Culture Issue 45 Open Books Introducing the literary privilege disclaimer. Arts & Culture Issue 50 Close Knit Close Knit: Meet the weavers keeping traditional Egyptian tapestrymaking alive. Arts & Culture Issue 50 The Old Gays Inside a Californian TikTok “content house” of a very different stripe. Arts & Culture Issue 50 New Roots The Palestinian art and agriculture collective sowing seeds of community. Arts & Culture Issue 50 Angela Trimbur An all-out tour de force. Arts & Culture Issue 50 Peace & Quiet In the UK, a centuries-old Quaker meeting house encourages quiet reflection.