Posted by: Sean | November 21, 2008

Theme Week Troll: Play it funny.

So you’re gonna be a troll, and you’re gonna make him funny. Great! In all honesty, this is my favourite take on trolls. While nasty can be fun, funny gives you the giggles. So let’s talk about how to make a troll funny.

The standard logic of troll humour can be summed up in two words: Stoner humour.

I’m not gonna buy into that. Playing the trolls as reefer heads is only funny within the context of their Jamaican accent, meaning it’s pretty much a dead trope to my mind. The idea has some traction, though, because the trolls do seem a bit like the outsiders of the Horde in a few ways; they’re certainly, well, doing their own thing in a lot of ways. And what is up with the crazy wandering snake guy in Orgrimmar?

The best way to approach a funny troll, I think, is to fish for misunderstandings. (This is one of my favourite styles of comedy in role-play, so I may be biased. It’s basically the whole approach my undead warrior is based on.) The idea here is that you try to create an intentional misunderstanding of what someone else says, and then run with it. Run a freaking marathon with it. This is done in two steps: The first is to obstruct the conversation, throwing people out of easy clichés and familiar statements and into detail. The more detail that’s given, the more chance there is that one of those details is going to be usable for comedy. Once you’ve found that detail, the goal is to misinterpret it ruthlessly until everyone wants to kill you.

Let’s see if we can’t construct a decent example here…

Olly the Orc: Alright. There’s going to be a tough road ahead of us, my brothers, but if we work together, these ogres won’t stand a chance!
Terry the Troll: Won’t stand a chance o’ what, mon?

At this point, Terry’s begun “fishing”. He’s playing a step behind, trying to force Olly’s player into offering up a statement that gives him a comedic ‘in’.

Olly: What? Erm, won’t stand a chance of beating us, I mean.
Terry: Why they wanna beat us? We ain’t done nothing’ to ’em.

Olly refuses to rise to the bait, but Terry pushes ahead. He continues to pile on the obstructions, forcing Olly to keep clarifying his point.

Olly: But we’re about to do a whole lot to them, my slightly slow brother! We march into battle!
Terry: But then they get every chance to beat us! If’n we stay ‘ere, then they no beat us. We should just stay ‘ere. Anyone hungry? I brought the bananas.
Olly: Yes, but… we need to… listen, my point is that if we all work together, their goose is cooked.

Jackpot. Olly’s ‘cooked goose’ line is clearly going to be our hook for this whole exercise.

Terry: Oh, so we tryin’ to steal their cooked goose? I ain’t never ‘ad goose, mon. Is goose good?
Olly: No, no, no.
Terry: So why we tryin’ to steal it then mon?
Olly: No, I mean, we’re not trying to steal anything. They don’t even have a goose. I mean they’re dead meat.
Terry: I’d hope we was goin’ after their dead meat. I ain’t killin’ no goose! I ain’t even cookin’ no goose. You said they had a cooked goose.
Olly: Oh, for the love of…
Terry: Why we even gotta have goose anyway? I got bananas.

And so on, and so on, and so on. You can pretty much stretch this out indefinitely. I’d never call this style high comedy, but it works well in improvised scenarios, making it an excellent choice for role-playing.

Also, it can be mixed with stone humour, if you must.

You know? If you must do stoner humour, here’s my last tip: How about the Erudite Stoner? At least you don’t see that one so much.

Maybe because he doesn’t have bananas.



  1. “In all honesty, this is my favourite take on trolls.”

    Didn´t you say that the last time as well?


  2. Boy, did I laugh at that little scene you made up. 🙂

    Though I think if I was the orc in that situation and not the troll or a third party, then I might be quite pissed. Especially, if this was in the context of doing some sort of instance or whatever. So I think it should be said, to ONLY do such humor in times where its not too big of a deal.

    @ Nostra

    Yup, he did say that before. So which is it Sean? Nasty or funny?

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