As the name would suggest, the role of the Fool in Morris dancing is a playful one. Rather than being in the Morris team itself, the Fool weaves in and out of the dance, cavorting, clowning, and shouting to the audience. His antics mask his true purpose: to act as a barker and to collect bag money. This, of course, is a cynical view of the Fool, and many Morris afficionados would loudly protest that the Fool serves the simple purpose of reminding the audience (quite vocally) that it is "OK to have fun."

The Fool generally wears an outlandish costume similar to what we now know as one worn by the Robin Hood character (though traditionally known as Jack in the Green or the Green Man). His instrument of choice is frequently a pig's bladder on a stick, which he wields to keep both the dancers and the audience well-behaved. While it may appear that the role is ideally suited to a beginning or inexperienced Morris dancer, this is not the case. The Fool requires an extensive and intimate knowledge of every dance so that his pratfalls and buffoonery do not interfere in any way with the intricate movements of the dancers. The Fool must weave through the side gracefully, and occasionally is called upon to replace a dancer forced to leave. Given the number of flamboyant kicks and hops, the extensive waving of white hankerchiefs, and violent bashing of sticks in Moriss dancing, this is no small task. In fact, a good deal of the audience's enjoyment is due to the continual danger of the Fool being hit in the head with a flying stick.

Some surmise that the Fool is a remnant of pagan fertility myths (which were subsequently incorporated into Christianity): in the closely related "Sword Dance", the Fool is ritually "killed" in a ring of swords and then resurrected (to the delight of the crowd). This is frequently performed in the spring, with all the attendant associations of rebirth, natural growth, and fertility. Some Morris dances contain trace elements of the Eucharist, with the Fool becoming a "Cake and Sword Bearer", offering small pieces of cake upon a sword to all onlookers, and symbolizing a piece of the dance to be taken home for good luck.