Scaramuccia in 1860

Scaramouche (French: [skaʁamuʃ]) or Scaramouch (English: /ˈskærəm(t)ʃ, -m/; from Italian Scaramuccia [skaraˈmuttʃa]; lit.'little skirmisher') is a stock clown character of the 16th-century commedia dell'arte (comic theatrical arts of Italian literature). The role combined characteristics of the Zanni (servant) and Il Capitano (masked henchman), with some assortment of villainous traits. Usually attired in black Spanish dress and burlesquing a don, he was often beaten by Harlequin for his boasting and cowardice.


Although Tiberio Fiorillo (1608–1694) was not the first to play the role, he greatly developed and popularized it. He removed the mask, used white powder on his face, and employed grimaces. He was small, had a long beard, and wore a predominantly black costume with a white ruff. In France, he became known as Scaramouche.[1]

Portrait of Tiberio Fiorilli as Scaramouche by Pietro Paolini

In the 19th century, the English actor Joseph Grimaldi and his son J. S. Grimaldi made numerous appearances as Scaramouche.


Scaramouche influences the audience to do his bidding. Rosa says that Coviello (like Scaramouche) is "short, adroit, supple, and conceited". In Molière's The Bourgeois Gentleman, Coviello disguises his master as a Turk and pretends to speak Turkish. Both Scaramouche and Coviello can be clever or stupid—as the actor sees fit to portray him.

In Blaise Pascal's Pensées Section 1 Article 12, Scaramouche is described as a person "who only thinks of one thing. The doctor, who speaks for a quarter of an hour after he has said everything, so full is he of the desire of talking."

In puppetry

Scaramouche is one of the great characters in the Punch and Judy puppet shows (a performative art with roots in commedia dell'arte). In some scenarios, he is the owner of The Dog, another stock character. During performances, Punch frequently strikes Scaramouche, causing his head to come off his shoulders. Because of this, the term scaramouche has become associated with a class of puppets with extendable necks.

Scaramouche in popular culture

J. S. Grimaldi as Scaramouche, c. 1815


  1. ^ Hartnoll 1983, pp. 282 ("Fiorillo, Tiberio"), 735 ("Scaramuccia").
  2. ^ Knapper, Stephen (2007). "Scaramouche: The Mask and the Millenium". In Robb, David (ed.). Clowns, Fools and Picaros: Popular Forms in Theatre, Fiction and Film. Rodopi. pp. 127, 135–138. ISBN 978-90-420-2340-6.
  3. ^ Asprin, Robert 1990. Phule's Company, Penguin Putnam Ltd. p. 7.
  4. ^ Stoppard, Tom 1991. Rough Crossing and On the Razzle, 1st ed., Faber and Faber Ltd. p. 86.
  5. ^ Russo, Carla Herreria (22 July 2017). "Anthony Scaramucci Prompts Search Of 'Scaramouch' And People Can't Handle The Definition". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on 10 August 2022. Retrieved 23 July 2017.
  6. ^ Bolling, Ruben (1 August 2017). "In the Writers' Room, Creating a Scaramucci". Boing Boing. Archived from the original on 21 August 2018. Retrieved 21 August 2018.