In a sense all laughter is political—embedded in social relations that always involve an element of power. This chapter focuses on its power in the more traditional political sense, as a tool of both the weak and the mighty. Historians have often seen the crude, “lower-body” humor of popular festivals as inherently democratic, deflating the pretensions of the powerful. But high elites also used scatological laughter to express class-based contempt. Was popular laughter a mere safety valve or a seed of revolt? Conversely, rulers and diplomats took laughter seriously at the centers of political power. Elizabeth I of England, for example, used it to deflect questions she did not want to answer, keeping everyone guessing about her true intentions while pressed to marry on every side. Courtiers kept a close eye on royal laughter, while also using laughter to serve their own political ends.