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What is a droll?

28 June 2001
Victor is unsure. Can you help him?

What is a droll? I am a droll. What am I? A droll. What is a droll?

1) A new kind of crunchy cereal bar. A cereal bar, but really crunchy. You expect oats which are slightly chewy in a thoroughly wholesome way, with the possible bonus of an exciting piece of apple or apricot. You get all of these, plus a surprise. Gasp as your teeth are dislodged. Marvel as the spring-action bolts shoot into your cheeks, delivering newfound ventilation to your once monohole face.

2 eh?) A troll, but funny. Humour works on the basis of reversal, so let's have The Three Billy Goats Gruff eating a hapless and disfigured creature under a fairytale bridge. Let's have it in live action - none of this animation lark. That'll make me laugh.

2 bee) A lazy bee, but funny. Enough.

3) An alternative swimming stroke, so "I'm going to do the droll in this relay". Butterfly arms and breast stroke legs. At competition speed the disjoin between the top and bottom halves results in hip dislocation. Preliminary trials have successfully relocated ninety-six percent of swimmers at the bottom of the pool.

4) A musical instrument, in between a sackbut and a serpent (see too many Hardy novels). Imagine harsh whining noise emanating from a minstrel's gallery in a church in a woodland village in Dorset. Liable to induce the daughters of local landowners and industrialists to fall passionately into repressed and unrequited love for impoverished but kind-hearted furze-cutters.


An organ from the seventies, to be found in the company of the Moog or Farfisa, used initially by progressive rock acts. Stretched to its phonic sampling limits by Jean-Michel Jarre in his 1976 release, Oxygene. Entirely forgotten by eighties electronica in the wake of the synthesiser revolution, it is due to be rediscovered by The Orb in 2003.

5) A form of transport - a dog crossed with a snail. Much like something from The Dark Crystal or The Neverending Story. The fluid, lolloping gait of the bearded gastropod demands the use of reins by the rider both for balance and for control. When Ricky Martin is appearing at your local record store, people can leave town in them (instead of in droves - geddit?).

6) An early 20th century Teutonic artistic movement - so, Droll (short "o", pronounced Drol, not Drohl). Close relatives of Dadaists in the nuclear family of Berlin culture, Drollers (Was ist dein Leiblingskunst? Ich bin ein Droller) emphasise in their work the emptiness and futility of outward show and the gap between appearance and reality - the key concept of "Schein und Sein". Moustachioed men in bowler hats and plastic women screaming like banshees.

Answer upside-down on page 47.


Previously on upsideclown


Current clown:

18 December 2003. George writes: This List

Most recent ten:

15 December 2003. Jamie writes: Seven Songs
11 December 2003. Dan writes: Spinning Jenny
8 December 2003. Victor writes: Rock Opera
4 December 2003. Matt writes: The Mirrored Spheres of Patagonia
1 December 2003. George writes: Charm
27 November 2003. James writes: On Boxing
24 November 2003. Jamie writes: El Matador del Amor; Or, the Man who Killed Love
20 November 2003. Dan writes: Rights Management
17 November 2003. Victor writes: Walking on Yellow
13 November 2003. Matt writes: Disintermediation
(And alas we lost Neil, who last wrote Cockfosters)

Also by this clown:

8 December 2003. Victor writes: Rock Opera
17 November 2003. Victor writes: Walking on Yellow
27 October 2003. Victor writes: Our Tune
6 October 2003. Victor writes: Sucking face (in a public place)
15 September 2003. Victor writes: You got any ID?
25 August 2003. Victor writes: Blood on the Boulevard
4 August 2003. Victor writes: In (paren)theses
10 July 2003. Victor writes: Island Fling
19 June 2003. Victor writes: Back (back) and forth (and forth)
2 June 2003. Victor writes: 300 clowns, 13 eight-year olds
12 May 2003. Victor writes: The swings and roundabouts of outrageous fortune
21 April 2003. Victor writes: ...just sitting there quietly contemplating suicide
31 March 2003. Victor writes: Victoria
6 March 2003. Victor writes: Relevant experience
17 February 2003. Victor writes: You will eat chips and go nowhere
27 January 2003. Victor writes: A bushy fish for fishy Mr Bush (after Juvenal)
6 January 2003. Victor writes: The Accidental Voyeur
16 December 2002. Victor writes: Gripper goes bang
25 November 2002. Victor writes: Bediquette
4 November 2002. Victor writes: Where have all the spastics gone?
14 October 2002. Victor writes: An Immodest Proposal
23 September 2002. Victor writes: Fastscan masterplan
2 September 2002. Victor writes: Dry Humping Social Club
12 August 2002. Victor writes: Beat the Mongol
22 July 2002. Victor writes: What life is not
1 July 2002. Victor writes: Stupor heroes
6 June 2002. Victor writes: Dry
13 May 2002. Victor writes: Muppet Suite
18 April 2002. Victor writes: gingermingeninja
25 March 2002. Victor writes: Sodomize with Pukka Pies
28 February 2002. Victor writes: Dave's problem
4 February 2002. Victor writes: King of the Aisles
10 January 2002. Victor writes: Here come the decorator gimps.
17 December 2001. Victor writes: Make war, not supper.
22 November 2001. Victor writes: Cough
29 October 2001. Victor writes:
4 October 2001. Victor writes: Green Gauges
10 September 2001. Victor writes: Blind weed
16 August 2001. Victor writes: Snout!
23 July 2001. Victor writes: You're not going to put this in a clown are you?
28 June 2001. Victor writes: What is a droll?
4 June 2001. Victor writes: Burt Pakamak
10 May 2001. Victor writes: Board to Death
12 April 2001. Victor writes: Tricolon with anaphora?
22 March 2001. Victor writes: Point of View
26 February 2001. Victor writes: Goth's Dinner
1 Feburary 2001. Victor writes: Les Miserables
4 January 2001. Victor writes: Flat-packed furniture
14 December 2000. Victor writes: Deliverance
20 November 2000. Victor writes: Bottomry: Exorcising Ghosts
26 October 2000. Victor writes: Body Art
2 October 2000. Victor writes: Disney must die
7 September 2000. Victor writes: Ice-cream in Offworld
14 August 2000. Victor writes: I like sweets that taste of medicine
26 June 2000. Victor writes: I've seen the future, and it's feathered

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