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‘Game of Thrones': What Did Tyrion’s Joke About Flies in Cups of Ale Mean?

Tyrion’s gag may not have landed when he told it to Missandei and Grey Worm, maybe because it originates in our world

(Spoiler Alert: Please do not read on if you haven’t watched Sunday’s episode of “Game of Thrones,” titled “No One”)

As Tyrion has been known to do this season, he once again attempted to get Missandei and Grey Worm to loosen up a bit with booze. He also decided it would be a good idea to tell jokes.

The joke Tyrion told went like this:

“Three lords walk into a tavern, a Stark, a Martell and a Lannister. They order ale, but then the barkeep brings them over, each of them finds a fly in his cup.

“The Lannister, outraged, shoves the cup aside and demands another. The Martell plucks the fly out and swallows it whole. The Stark reaches into his cup, pulls out the fly and shouts: ‘Spit it out, you wee s—! Spit it out!'”

It’s a weird joke, one that Missandei and Grey Worm certainly don’t understand, and which we don’t really have a point of reference for in “Game of Thrones.” But, ah, that’s because this joke doesn’t come from “Game of Thrones” or the “Song of Ice and Fire” novels on which the show is based. Instead, this joke is ripped from our world.

The joke is a Westerosi adaptation of one about an Englishman, Scotsman and Irishman. In Tyrion’s version the Lannister is the Englishman, the Martell is the Scotsman, and the Stark is the Irishman. The real joke has a few variations, mostly involving what the Scotsman does with the fly — usually the story goes that he plucks the fly out and tosses it aside and drinks the beer anyway, though I’ve seen versions where he drinks the beer with the fly still in it. The bit about the Martell lord eating the fly might be a unique “Game of Thrones” flourish.

Anyway, it doesn’t appear that the joke is rooted in any particular bit of “Game of Thrones” lore. It’s just one of our jokes that’s been around forever. A neat little easter egg for those in the audience who know their “an Englishman, Scotsman and Irishman walk into a bar” jokes.

How does Tyrion, with his joke-telling acumen (or lack thereof), stack up against the other major characters in “Game of Thrones”? Check out our rankings below to find out. 

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