Bouffon is a modern French theater term that was re-coined in the early 1960s by Jacques Lecoq at his LÉcole Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq in Paris to describe a specific style of performance work that has a main focus in the art of mockery. The word gave rise to the English word buffoon.
The word bouffon comes from a Latin verb: buffare, to puff ; the word Buffo was used in the Roman theatre by those who appeared on the stage with their cheeks blown up; when they received blows that they would make a great noise causing the audience to laugh. The usage of the word bouffon comes from French and has entered English theatrical language through the work of Jacques Lecoq and his pedagogic inquiry into performance approaches of comedy, leading him to create dynamic classroom exercises that explored elements of burlesque, commedia dellarte, farce, gallows humor, parody, satire, slapstick, etc. that collectively influenced the development of modern bouffon performance work.
Philippe Gaulier a contemporary of LeCoq explains bouffon in his book The Tormentor. (source : wikipedia)