Pierrot is a stock character of mime and Commedia dell’Arte, a French variant of the Italian Pedrolino. His character is that of the sad clown, pining for love of Columbine, who inevitably breaks his heart and leaves him for Harlequin. He is usually depicted wearing a loose, white tunic. The noticeable feature of Pierrot’s behaviour is his naïveté, he is seen as a fool, always the butt of pranks, yet nonetheless trusting. Pierrot is also portrayed as moonstruck, distant and oblivious to reality.
One may be said to be Pierroting if one is behaving like Pierrot.
Spelled “Pjerrot”, the character is a fixture at Bakken, the world’s oldest amusement park in Denmark. According to Bakken publicity, the character is more than 4,000 years old, and originated in Turkey (known as Asia Minor). It is also claimed that in ancient times, the broad red mouth of the character was created by physically cutting the mouth to make it larger.
The 20th century Russian cabaret singer Alexander Vertinsky was famous for his portrayal of Pierrot, for which he wore a black costume and powdered his face.