Tarlton, Richard, d. 1588, Elizabethan actor and clown. One of the Queen's Men, he gained fame for his improvised jests, jigs, and doggerel. A collection of anecdotes, Tarlton's Jests (pub. 1592?–1611?), is attributed to him. He is thought to have been the model for the jester Yorick described in Hamlet.