“Laugh, laugh!” wrote Madame de Sévigné to her daughter in one of her witty letters. At a time when some elites were attempting to silence laughter—redefining it as a smile of suppressed amusement—Sévigné persisted. Her time was a pivotal moment in the laughter of the high aristocracy. The Sun King, Louis XIV, was a serious monarch, the leading exemplar of royal absolutism. Yet laughter still erupted at the French court; in fact, its reputation for virulent ridicule stems from this era also. Sévigné’s laughter was gentler than that of her younger contemporary, the Duke of Saint-Simon, who records laughter that drove people out of town. But both laughed at people who failed to meet courtly standards. Their stories connect to the larger tradition of courtly laughter. Already in the Renaissance court, knowing how to laugh, and how to elicit laughter, was a matter of cultivated skill. Sophisticates criticized physical humor or practical joking as old-fashioned or boorish, favoring verbal cleverness instead. The courtier must never be mistaken for a “buffoon,” or for a paid entertainer like the traditional court jester. Increasingly, it was essential to know the rules of behavior and hierarchy; people who didn’t became the targets of exclusionary laughter.