'Game of Thrones' can kill with humor from Tyrion, Bronn, Olenna & Co.

'Game of Thrones' can kill with humor from Tyrion, Bronn, Olenna & Co.Entertainment

In celebration of Bronn (Jerome Flynn) not being barbecued by Daenerys’ dragon, we pulled together some of his best bon mots. Jayme Deerwester, USA TODAY

Game of Thrones is known for murder and mayhem, but don’t forget the mirth. 

The opposing elements complement each other, as bawdy musings can temper bloody beheadings, says Jerome Flynn, whose sellsword Bronn is a contender for funniest character on the Emmy-winning HBO drama. 

“I think it’s crucially important in how it threads through what is a very dark, medieval (story). If you didn’t have Tyrion’s or Bronn’s or quite a lot of other characters’ senses of humor, it wouldn’t be the show it is,” Flynn says.

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Bronn has plenty of comedic competition on Thrones. The late, great Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg) eviscerated foes with her pronouncements (Cersei Lannister: “As for your veiled threats …”/Olenna: “What veil?”) and Master of Whisperers Varys (Conleth Hill) offers droll wisdom. (Actors are funny off-screen, too. Hill was so hilarious during a 2015 Comic-Con panel that moderator Seth Meyers said he should be doing stand-up “in the Meereen Cellar.”)

Flynn casts his comic vote for the world-weary, self-deprecating Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage). Tyrion to eternally dour Jon Snow: “You look a lot better brooding than I do. You make it look like I’m failing at brooding.”

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, whose Jaime Lannister hires Bronn for his military prowess, says the mercenary warrior is his favorite Thrones character for a similar reason: “He’s got all the best lines in the show.” 

Bronn’s crude, cutting and concise wit remained sharp even after he risked his life to save Jaime from being toasted by a dragon in a recent episode. As the pair recovered after nearly drowning in their escape, he disabused Jaime — in unprintable terms — of any notion that he would stick with him to fight Daenerys Targaryen’s winged giants.

“Dragons are where our partnership ends. I’m not going to be around when those things start spitting fire on King’s Landing,” he said. 

Jaime brought up another fiery power: his sister, the queen. “I have to tell Cersei.”

Bronn wasn’t optimistic: “Might as well jump back in the river.”

Even characters not known as cut-ups can be funny, as Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) showed in using wit to pre-empt the same from Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish (Aidan Gillen): “No need to seize the last word, Lord Baelish. I’ll assume it was something clever.”

Thrones’ humor goes beyond witty banter. Tyrion and Varys traveling to Essos was a buddy movie as entertaining as any Hope-Crosby On the Road film, but they may have competition from Sunday’s Hound (Rory McCann)/Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) road show. (Besides some fun Brienne chitchat, it featured this exchange. Hound: “How did a mad (bleep) like you live this long?”/Tormund: “I’m good at killing people.”) 

Much of the humor can be attributed to author George R.R. Martin, whose books inspired the series. He named a character Hot Pie (mic drop!). 

Sometimes, the comedy goes beyond words. The Season 7 premiere montage of Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) ladling nasty gruel and emptying nastier bedpans spoke revolting but hilarious volumes about the ambitious academic’s menial position at the scholarly Citadel.

“That sequence, apart from being a funny and entertaining moment, had quite a different flavor from anything we’d done before,” Bradley says. “Sam could have explained his frustration and disenchantment to Gilly in one long monologue. That would have been fine, but the show is finding new ways of exploring in visuals.”

Entertainment value aside, a sharp comedic sense might even save a character — and an actor — from the grisly demise that seems to befall just about everyone in Westeros sooner or later. At least, that’s Flynn’s hope for Bronn, whose life may be imperiled after battling Daenerys and angering Cersei.

“The thing Bronn’s really got going for him is his humor. In the midst of all the darkness and tragedy, his humor is good comic relief, if nothing else,” he says. “That’s what I’m pinning my hopes on: Keep cracking the jokes, Bronn!” 
 

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