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!

DEALING WITH DIFFERENT STAG BUDGETS

Organizing a stag for one of your best mates is one of the greatest honours you will ever have. Let that glow wash over you for a few days because as soon as you get down to the nitty gritty of trying to assemble thirty odd blokes with varying tastes, personalities and budgets to agree on a place, things are going to get a lot harder.

My first tip for anyone in this position would be to decide on a location and stick with it. If you are keeping it a surprise from the groom and you are the only best man then at least make sure you get together with a couple of his closest mates and run the idea past them. As soon as you unleash the idea to the group of stags you need to be nailed on that you have the destination sorted, otherwise you run the risk of receiving fifteen well meaning but annoying emails suggesting loads of other places. I know someone who opened the idea of destination out to the group and ended up trying to reply to about forty five different suggestions whilst running his own business and expecting a baby. Sounds like a laugh to you? Exactly. Being the best man is like being a teacher or a coach. You need to have a quiet authority that seems to say " I'm your buddy, I'm your pal and I will be the first on the jaeger bombs on a Friday night, however question my choice of destination again and the closest you'll get to the stag is watching the flipogram of us at Manchester dog track."

I know, I know no one likes a dictator. That's why you're going to thoroughly do your homework before you even think about sending the first email out. It can be as simple as sitting down for a pint with the groom and finding out what he actually wants from a stag. Not everyone wants to wake up in Vegas with a tattoo of a Dolphin riding a segway on their inner thigh, some people would be happier with a night in the local beer garden as long as everybody they knew could come. The main thing you need to find out is who are the A list people that the groom can't imagine not being there. If everyone on this list is making more cash than they know what to do with then the world is your oyster, if not then it's time to start narrowing the options.

I've been to stags in Valencia, Barcelona and an amazing cottage in the Cotswolds with a hot tub, I've also been to hostels in Newquay, Weymouth and Newport. I enjoyed every single one of them and so did the stags. The most important thing with any social gathering is the people, get that right and you can't go wrong.

It's also worth reminding yourself that the bleaker the place you go to, the less the damage deposit will be. Boys will be boys!

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.