Game of Thrones has always had a sense of humor, but it has generally been a mix of farts, gallows humor, insults, barracks talk, fat jokes, jokes about how drinking is cool, jokes about how having sex is cool, flirting, and quips. Oh, the quips. If quips are fire, the show has two dragons (Tyrion and Bronn), having just lost its third Sunday night (RIP Olenna). But the thing is, quips are easy; they’re just little asides that don’t halt the momentum of the conversation. Last night, though, there were a couple of almost sitcom-like jokes that took up some real estate. And they were really funny.
The first, which I assume you were expecting when you clicked on this article, was the scene that will forever be remembered as “The Intros.”
The structure of the joke is classic, which is particularly impressive considering how big a deal this meeting was. The long buildup for a short response is at the core of, say, a shaggy-dog story or the type of jokes Norm Macdonald does on Conan. It’s also reminiscent of any scene in which a person from the future goes back in time and is introduced to some lord and is like, “Oh, I am Dan of, umm, Pizzatown,” or where one character does a lot of business, and the other person is just like, “Meep.” Here’s a famous version:
The second joke of the night was a classic overreach, seemingly coming right out of the Westeros version of The Office, with Tyrion trying to pass his own quote off as ancient wisdom, and Dany calling him on it:
Though structurally a bit different, the moment was rooted in the same psychology. Actually, both jokes had a Michael Scott feel to them; their posturing feels rooted in insecurity and reveals the mental state of those currently in power at Dragonstone. Knowing that it’s your right to be queen (or the hand to one) is a lot different than being totally comfortable in the fact that you should be queen and, now, are the queen, even though no one knows you are.
Daenerys, Tyrion, and Jon Snow, for that matter, are great characters not because of how great they are as leaders, but because of the fact that they are great leaders despite their insecurities. Whether it comes from being orphaned, forced to live in exile, and treated like property, or being a dwarf or bastard, each of them is overcoming a struggle. It’s why these two jokes were some of the best of the series. They weren’t just levity; they revealed something about the characters and, in turn, human behavior.