Droll is one of those words whose most common usage belies its “official” dictionary definition. Usually, I hang with official definitions of words, but this time, I’m going with common usage.
1. curious or unusual in a way that provokes dry amusement.
“his unique brand of droll self-mockery”
synonyms: funny, humorous, amusing, comic, comical, mirthful, hilarious; More
noun – archaic
1. a jester or entertainer; a buffoon.
When you hear someone say “How droll!”, they aren’t talking about a jester or buffoon. They are talking about a certain dry wit or clever use of words. There’s nothing buffoonish about drollery. Actually, the thing that makes it different from other kinds of “humor” is its dryness — and how often one can deliver humor with a straight face.
I should know. I live with Garry, a man who wasted his life by never playing poker. Garry can say the most outrageous stuff with a complete poker face. I’ve known him since 1963 — maybe it was 1964? Which is a pretty long time as friendships go in our lifetime. To this day, I do not know if he is joking or not. He doesn’t even get that little lip twitch to alert me to his fooling around.
Well, I’m embarrassed to admit it, but yet, I did. And usually the reason I’m outraged is I can’t believe he would say something like that. The answer is, he didn’t. He just assumes if anyone will get him, I will. Mostly, I do. Eighty percent, I get him. The other twenty percent? He got me.
I tell him, regularly, he missed his calling. Television? Delivering the news without laughing? That was tricky … but he could play poker with anyone and bluff them all. If only he could figure out which card is which. Because even in poker with the world’s best poker face, you need to be able to tell a club from a diamond.