You’re the best man and it’s time to write your speech. When you play the fool and make the audience laugh, feel a little light relief knowing you follow in a noble tradition? In the Battle of Sluys which began the 100 years war in the 14th century, the entire French fleet was sunk by the English. King Philip of France’s ministers were terrified of how to tell him. In the end it fell to his court jester to say the English were cowards who ‘don’t even have the guts to jump into the water like our brave French.’
In King Lear it is the fool who points out the king’s foolishness. Fools and jesters in history have been powerful tellers of the truth. Of course both of these fools were murdered for being smart arses.
Which leads me to the subject of making jokes in the best man’s speech. Perhaps more importantly how to make a wedding speech which will make people laugh, and not end up with the speech maker getting murdered?
But don’t lose heart. You’ve got a room full of liquored up people, who all know who you’re trying to roast. They’ve been bored senseless by the service and all the other nice speeches. Most full time professional comedians would kill for a gig like that. So just follow these tips for your best man speech and you’ll be fine.
Best man speech tip No.1: You’re not a stand-up comic
And even if you are a stand-up comic, then on this day you are not. Any idea of copying your favourite comic is not going to work. A half an hour imitation of Stan Boardman or even worse an anti-government rant a la Bill Hicks will go down about as well as the Titanic. You’re there to tell everyone what a great guy the groom is, what a fabulous lady he is marrying. And to keep everyone awake and smiling with a bit of cheery humour. Stand-up comedians are at war with their audience. You are not (your chance for vengeance was on the stag do). You are simply breaking his balls a little. Like Joe Pesci in Goodfellas. You finish up proposing a toast to wish them all the best in their new life. The comedian finishes his act sincerely hoping most of the audience were dead.
Best man speech tip No.2: Don’t steal
“I don’t need to write jokes, I’ll just steal a bunch off of the internet.” Foolish words, because everyone has access to the internet these days. Yes even your blue haired, glaucoma eyed old great grand mama can get her care assistant to look up Google’s funniest 100 jokes for her. And will gleefully be shouting out “12 inch pianist” and “wears the soap!” at you. In fact, even if you do write your own jokes, it’s a good idea to Google them just to make sure no one else thought of them first. It’s a sad irony that it’s usually only the second rate jokes that no one else thought of first. Besides, nothing says you don’t care about the happy couple more than standing up hand in pocket, desperately trying to force that hilarious joke Jimmy Carr came up with on telly about molesting a nun into a joke about the happy couple won’t work. It’s their special day so write them something special, rather than coming across as ‘special needs’.
Best man speech tip No.3: Being grubby not dirty
You’re going to be expected to be pretty rude; in a day of tears, meringue dresses and first dances you are the breath of (slightly sulphurous) fresh air. So how far do you go? Well. First of all, if you’re too polite and respectful everyone will be worried. What could you possibly be covering up or not mentioning? Not making a joke about the bride being a bit of a sl@t, may lead to the audience worrying that she used to be a prostitute, a man or both and possibly an ex-pope as well. On the other hand graphically describing how the groom first learned about the birds and the bees on a trip to a Safari Park is probably too much. You need to tune your material carefully to get a collected gasp followed by an actual laugh. So it’s a good idea to get some friends, some family members (the author is Facebook friends with his mum and finds it a wonderful way to prevent himself posting up anything that goes too far) and run your jokes past them. If it’s too gross, dump it. It’s also a good opportunity to lose your unfunny jokes. Remember your jokes should be like the deadly Japanese, jelly fish sushi. Just enough of a sting to numb the tongue, but you don’t actually want to kill anyone.
Best man speech tip No.4: And again you’re not a stand-up comic
Remember you’re not writing and performing a comedy routine. You’re there to entertain, but you’re also there to tell the audience about what a great guy Jeff is and how happy you are for him. How lucky the bride is and thank the brides maids (for being smoking hot in their mud brown and pistachio dresses).
Remember to thank everyone involved; thank both families and of course the father of the bride (or whoever stumped up the bill). It’s a good idea to check if there are any children from a previous marriage, or anyone else you need to mention. If either bride or groom was conceived via sperm donation, calling their dad a “cheery old tosser” could be ill advised.
So there you go. Now you know how to make your audience laugh, cry and smile. How to pick the perfect words to have everyone whispering “What a lovely guy. Shame she didn’t choose him.” Now you’ve probably noticed I’ve not told you how to actually write a joke. Don’t worry that comes in the next blog.