This wistful, affectionate phrase come from Feng Menglong’s preface to the Expanded Treasury of Laughter.
Among other aspects of fools, we are determined to figure out who counts as a, or the, god of laughter and, by liberal extension, fools. There is a generous range of candidates: Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, Indian, Roman (you will notice their origins are in alphabetical order to avoid incurring their wrath).
While we sort through the puntheon we can at least present you with a workable guru to keep you going: Maitreya the Laughing Buddha.
‘Ah, Cloth-Bag Monk, Maitreya the Laughing Buddha, my master! Yes, you’re my master!’
See also the expanded quotation that precedes this.
Source: Feng Menglong 馮夢龍 (1574-1646), Preface to the Expanded Treasury of Laughter (廣笑府序), trans. William Dolby.