There are several ways to ensure that your best man's speech is truly memorable. These include …
- Confessing to a hitherto undisclosed affair with the bride.
- Swearing like Gordon Ramsay with his nutsack trapped in a Moulinex.
- Blacking up.
- Confessing to a hitherto undisclosed affair with the groom.
- Stabbing a guest or guests.
However, for a memorable speech with fewer legal, social and emotional consequences, many best men choose to rely on comedy.
Humour can be the best man's greatest weapon, but it can also be his Achilles' heel. Even world class comics know what it's like to die on stage, and a wedding reception audience isn't exactly a Saturday night Comedy Store crowd. Some things work, some things don't. To help you remember which things are what things, we've adapted a familiar bridal saying.
SOMETHING OLD …
"Ladies and gentlemen, there are obviously two very important people here today, without whom very little of this would have been possible. And the great thing is that as the evening progresses, most of us will get to spend more and more time talking with them. So please join me in a very special toast - to the bar staff!"
For a family-oriented crowd, there's nothing wrong with wheeling out one or two of the ancient wonders of the comedy world. They'll get the same kind of warm response as Christmas cracker gags, and you certainly won't offend anyone. Be careful not to overdo it, though, or you'll upset the happy couple. Nobody wants the soundtrack of their wedding night to be a chorus of loud groans.
Not until later, anyway.
SOMETHING NEW …
Don't give yourself a migraine over it, but if you can pen just one gag that's all your own work - something tailored specifically to the day and or its key players - the brownie points you'll earn with your audience will be worth the effort. It doesn't even have to be one of the better jokes in your speech. If it's fresh and relevant, the crowd will love it …
If the groom's a boxer -
"The last time I went to a wedding with Frank was a disaster. The service ended, the bell rang, and Frank K-Oed the Vicar."
If the newlyweds own a newsagent's -
"Judy and Pete have asked me to remind you that only two school children are allowed in the room at any one time."
SOMETHING BORROWED …
There's a school of thought that says you can't steal a joke; once it's out there, it's anyone's to tell. Many professional comedians strongly disagree and will defend their position with strong words and, if necessary, fisticuffs. Your wedding reception audience will be a more forgiving bunch, by and large, so you should be safe to plunder you favourite stand-up routines for choice lines. Provided they're not too obviously mainstream or celebrated, the jokes will be fresh to many in the room, and warmly received by those who do recognize them. Don't try to pass borrowed gags off as your own at the bar later, though. Acknowledge your source graciously and you'll be seen as a fan, not a fraud.
NOTHING (TOO) BLUE …
Your best man's speech is like the members list of an East End snooker club; "there's no room for filth". That said, the British have a long tradition of bending the rules on rudeness. Tap into the spirit of great Englishmen, from Geoffrey Chaucer to Kenneth Williams by employing innuendo to your heart's content, but avoid causing real offense at all costs.
Have a look at the two jokes below. The fine line of filth sits between them. Can you tell upon which side they reside? If not, good luck with your speech, and one final piece of advice …
Keep the car running.
"Jennifer and Pete met when she went to see A Fiddler On The Roof. How he got up there we'll never know, but something about the way he pleaded with her not to call the police melted Jen's heart."
"Pete's always been a keen amateur musician. When we were at college, he was in a rock band called ROCK! As his tastes changed, he moved on to a blues band called BLUE! And just this year, Pete started his country band. I don't know what they're called."