Based on an analysis of the already transcribed karagoz "scenarios", this study argues that the Turkish shadow theatre is characterized by a grotesque imagery. Its principal stock character, Karagoz, is a fool hero who turns the world upside down and inside out in a grotesque manner. Karagoz is also marked by what Bakhtin calls "carnivalization of speech", i.e. freeing language from gloomy seriousness of the official culture and subverting truisms. The study also asserts that karagoz defies the commonplace classification of the Ottoman cultural field in terms of impermeable and mutually exclusive categories of "high culture" and "folk culture".