BEST MAN SPEECH GAGS

There are plenty of websites out there that will give you enough pre written gags to easily fill out a five minute speech. A lot of the material on these sites is pretty good and if delivered well it will definitely get you a slap on the back and a pint bought for you at the bar. Personally I would always prefer to see a best man speak from the heart and tell stories about his friend rather than worry about hitting a particular gag count. I have seen one or two speeches that have been so gag heavy that they have veered away from anything to do with the happy couple and have turned into an open mic comedy set. The only problem with this is when the jokes start to fall flat and the mood changes, turning the best man into Robert De Niros character from the film 'King Of Comedy', a deranged stand up comedian who holds a tv executive at gun point to get his big break in TV.

When used sparingly, a good best man gag is an excellent way to get the crowd onside early, win them back if one of your anecdotes hasn't quite worked it's magic, and lift people back up again if you have been talking about anything overly sad or emotional. Typical jokes that are often weaved into a best man speech include, "it's been an emotional day, even the cake is in tiers" and a lot of variations on the groom having to realise that his wife is always right. I have seen these delivered to great effect and though I wouldn't use them myself I can see why they are very popular. When it comes to writing gags for my clients I like to try and bring in techniques that I used whilst writing and performing stand up and sketch comedy. The rule of three is a particularly effective writing principle that is based on the fact that people often find a list of three things funnier than two. In a wedding speech it might be used like this:

"There are many reasons that Sarah is the perfect match for Chris, they share the same taste in clothes, they are both obsessed with Game of Thrones and she's the only woman who hasn't run from his bedroom in tears after finding out how hairy his back is!"

A call back is another technique that is used effectively in a best man speech. This involves bringing back a thread of a joke that appeared earlier in the speech at a later point. This works well as it normally generates a laugh and also shows how in control of the speech you are as well as giving the impression that you are improvising.

To all those about to gag I salute you, just make sure you do a bit of research on your audience yeah? Oh, and never, ever hold an audience at gun point!

A BEST MAN IS FOREVER NOT JUST FOR THE WEDDING!

I read an article this week that really upset me. It concerned a newly engaged man who realised that he hadn’t spoken to his ‘best friend’ in a couple of years. The article began with the groom to be about to re enter his friends life to ask him to be his best man.

This made me sad for a number of reasons. I have been a best man several times and am proud of the fact that I am in close contact with each of the happy husbands, whether that’s a phone call every few weeks, a pint after work to discuss how Jose Mourhino has completely lost it or a cup of tea on a hungover Sunday. I realise that the world has changed and that it’s very rare to live in the same town as your best friends. Some people don’t even live on the same continent as their best men or maid of honour and have to make do with a blurry Skype session every now and again. Working hours are getting longer and life seems to race by meaning that quite often we can lose track of just how long it’s been since we were in the same room as people we love.

One of the things I enjoy most about going on a stag, apart from normal hours of booze consumption going out the window, is the chance to spend a night, a weekend or a week with people who mean more to anything than me. When those tattered suit cases are loaded off the mini bus or the Ryan Air carousel at the end of the stag, we all go back to being Dads, over worked professionals or functioning alcoholics. For those few precious hours though, it’s an opportunity to spend quality time with people who you really don’t see enough. 

In my opinion there is never a valid reason to lose touch with someone you consider a close friend. Even the most time starved amongst us have the chance to pick up the phone on a walk to the shops or to send a text when we are watching match of the day. If someone turned up at my door asking me to be their best man when I hadn’t seen them for two years I wouldn’t really see it as a massive honour. In fact I would probably feel like I was in some sort of American rom com starring Vince Vaughan. The bottom line is, friends stay in touch. It’s not always easy and it’s not always consistent but it happens whether it’s a drunk text, a Facebook message or a long overdue pint.

If you’re thinking of popping the question to your best man and they live in the same country as you, at least pick up the phone and call them. Perhaps put aside all those other things you had to do for three hours and have a beer, a cup of tea or a round of crazy golf with them. 

Oh yeah, if you really haven’t seen them for ages make sure you send them my way for the speech. You’ll thank me for it when you get the wedding video!

FLYING SOLO AT A WEDDING

 

There’s nothing like an invitation to a wedding when you’re unattached to turn the happiest singleton from George Clooney into David Brent. We’ve all strutted into a wedding full of hopes and dreams of leaving with a beautiful bridesmaid and ended up weeping into a jaeger bomb whilst everyone else is slow dancing.

When I first started attending weddings in my mid twenties the singles out numbered the couples considerably.Ten years on and quite a lot has changed. Being a single person at a wedding over the age of thirty can be quite depressing and can lead you being faced with the following three scenarios:

1: The Forced Set Up

You are both friends of the bride. You’ve met once at a party and had a laugh and added each other on Facebook at some point. Now you have been purposely sat next to each other at a table that is in clear vision of everyone else at the wedding. The bride thinks you’ll be married by next year, the brides auntie has started knitting a bonnet for your first born and Uncle Jim has got a tenner on you snogging before the speeches are finished. A bit awkward yeah?

2: The Embarrassing Mix Up

You chatted to a lovely lady at the church and now you’re sharing a sly fag outside whilst the DJ is hammering through Steps’s greatest hits. She’s laughing at all your jokes, she’s playing with her hair when she’s talking to you and she’s here all on her own. Then as you are nervously building up to asking her to go for a dance her phone starts chirruping in her pocket. Turns out it’s her fiancee who’s in Africa doing something really interesting and selfless. “You’d get on really well with him” she says.  The worst thing is you probably would.

3: Convincing Yourself You Want To Be Married

Getting married is SO much more than being all smiles on a sunny afternoon in May whilst your mates and friends drink away your minimal savings. It’s about compromising on things that you would never have considered before, it’s supporting someone else through all the highs and lows that life is capable of throwing at you and it’s going to your in laws house for Christmas at least every other year for the rest of your existence. Despite all that, when you’re watching the speeches through tear stained eyes the only thing you are thinking about is how you will be watching 80’s films in bed by yourself every Saturday night forever.

The truth is though, if you’ve got a load of mates, all your limbs and a job that pays you enough to have the odd weekend away then you are already luckier than most of the people in the world. Get that suit dry cleaned, brush your teeth and put your dancing shoes on. Oh yeah, maybe ask that beautiful stranger in the church if her boyfriend is coming to the evening doo. Best laid plans and all that.

SHARING A SPEECH

It's fair to say that years ago weddings were much quicker. A speedy “I do” and a few nervous words from the bride's father and the groom before the best man took the stage and made a few risqué remarks. Job done.

These days weddings can almost resemble mini festivals with Friday evening drinks, a full day of entertainment on the Saturday and then an extremely hungover gathering on the Sunday as everyone contemplates the long drive home and return to sobriety. Bigger weddings mean longer speeches and often two or three people sharing the role whether as best men or maids of honour. 

When working on a speech with other people it can be tempting to write it together and simply tag each other in and out like a troupe of WWE wrestlers or an unrehearsed version of the Beastie Boys. If you manage to carry this off it will quite rightly bring the house down, unfortunately though, you probably wont. Unless the three of you were raised by wolves and did not come into contact with any other forms of society, it is likely that you will all have very different memories and anecdotes about the bride and groom.  You will end up arguing long into the night about who is going to get the best lines and inevitably at least two of you will feel like The Supremes to Diana Ross.

The last wedding I attended there was a perfect example of how to do a great shared speech. The three best men had met up several times and shared their speeches with each other so that nobody was stepping on the others toes. They also split the speeches up into different eras of the groom’s life which made for a nice transition between each speaker.

Sharing a speech is not perfect but there are ways and means of ensuring it doesn't turn into a car crash. Plan in advance, agree on anecdotes that give everyone a fair share of the limelight and you will go down like The Three Tenors instead of The Three Stooges.

Oh yeah, don't do a funny 'rap' in the hope it will go viral unless Salt-N-Pepa are writing it for you.

COPING WITH NERVES ON THE DAY OF THE SPEECH

For anyone speaking at a wedding the day can be split into two clearly defined halves. The pre speech half of the day is made up of trying to enjoy what is undoubtably a lovely service, whilst at the same time resisting the urge to jump in a taxi and head for the nearest airport/ bus stop/ cliff top. The after speech half will see the speech maker wandering around in a near enough orgasmic daze from the sheer relief of getting it over and done with. For many performers it’s this roller coaster of emotions that drags them back to the stage again and again. Unfortunately, many people  tasked with saying a few words at a wedding will be completely unaccustomed to speaking in public. In todays blog I would like to offer a few tips to keep the nerves at bay.

Firstly, and this is a lot easier to say than do, relax and enjoy the morning! This is hopefully going to be the only time your son/daughter/best mate gets married and you want to be able to remember it rather than gritting your teeth and smiling whilst holding a sick bag! At this point it’s worth remembering how well received the speakers have been at any other wedding you’ve been to. No one in their right mind goes to a reception wanting the speeches to go badly. A wedding crowd will usually be the most receptive, relaxed and friendly crowd that you could hope to talk to and they will want to enjoy it with you! There will always be a few people who will ask if you are nervous, take this in your stride and tell them you haven’t really thought about it yet and just concentrate on the service for now.

Hopefully you are fully prepared and have your speech written out and broken down into cue cards. Before you leave the house in the morning double or even triple check that you have your speech with you. If it makes you feel safer, copy the speech and give it to a friend or partner as a back up, if the worst should happen and you lose your notes then at least you know there is another copy. If you manage to lose both of them then you are well within your rights to freak out and pretend you lost your voice on the stag/hen doo!

Find out the running order of the speeches so that you know exactly when you will be speaking. If you have chance, go for a walk somewhere by yourself and read through the speech a few times in your head. Take some deep breaths and think about how much fun you are going to have when the speech is finished and everyone is coming up to congratulate you. Most importantly remember how happy you are to be involved with such an amazing occasion, you have been asked to speak because what you have to say is very important to someone and the fact you might look a bit nervous when you start is absolutely insignificant. Take a deep breath, push your shoulders back and deliver the speech with the confidence it deserves.

Best of Luck!