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1620s, from French drôle "odd, comical, funny" (1580s), in Middle French a noun meaning "a merry fellow," possibly from Middle Dutch drol "fat little fellow, goblin," or Middle High German trolle "clown," ultimately from Old Norse troll "giant, troll" (see troll (n.)). Related: Drolly; drollish.
short comic scene or farce adapted from an existing play or created by actors, performed in England during the period of the Civil Wars and the Commonwealth (1642-60) while the London theatres were closed down by the Puritans. Because stage plays were prohibited at this time, actors developed other, shorter means of entertainment to circumvent the restrictions, performing drolls in inns and at fairs on improvised stages