If you have read further into the advice on this site, you'll already have been warned about the dangers of including long, drawn-out stories in your best man's speech. Extended anecdotes at a wedding are like a porn star's professional pride and joy; long, hard and difficult to swallow.
There are, of course, exceptions; tales so mind-bogglingly unlikely and amusing that to leave them out would be a dereliction of duty. If you are best man to a groom who once spent three years at joinery school because he wrote "banister" instead of "barrister" on his UCAS form, then skipped out of his dyslexia support group to go to a toga party dressed as a goat, those are things the world - or at least the wedding guests - should know about. Hone your storytelling skills with the following tips and you won't find yourself rounding up with "I suppose you had to be there …"
When planning your speech, write your story down in full, then edit it ruthlessly, cutting out any unnecessary waffle. Do not be tempted to adlib on stage, as the likelihood of blowing the punch line or missing a crucial detail will increase exponentially with every improvised moment. Rambling should be saved for the Lake District, and is strictly forbidden in your best man's speech.
NB - Speeches given at wedding venues in the Lake District are not exempt from the above rule.
WHO THE F*CK IS ALICE?
A wedding brings all sorts of people together; school friends, college friends, work friends, relatives, mates from the pub. The point is that your audience will have different connections to the groom, and their intimate knowledge of him may be much more limited than your own. Keep that in mind before launching into a story that will have six people rolling in the aisles, and another two hundred scratching their heads in bemusement. For example, if the pay-off to your story entails one of the groom's odd personal catchphrases or habits, make sure to set things up early on by dropping that knowledge into the opening of your story.
SET THE SCENE
You don't have to reach for Roget's Thesaurus, but the more you can do to paint picture for your audience, the better received your extended anecdote will be. Include time and place in your description of events, sketch out the main players or - better yet - point them out, if they're among the guests.
If you were witness to the original events that inspired your story, picture the scene as completely as you can, both as you write it down and as you tell it. Tapping into those memories will make the detail of your story more compelling, and its delivery more natural.
KEEP IT CLEAN
As with all wedding humour, extreme rudeness is a definite no-no. In a shaggy dog story, the impact of the punch line is magnified by the listener's anticipation; the longer the wait, the bigger the laugh when it comes. The impact of anything naughty will be similarly amplified, so that what felt edgy but acceptable when you rehearsed it in front of the bathroom mirror, might as well be an invitation to bum rescue kittens once you're belting it out from the top table.
If you have a mucky tale that you just can't keep a lid on, offer it for the price of a pint to willing listeners, later in the evening.
TELL THE TRUTH
Feel free to exaggerate the details of your story for comic effect. If he fell over, "he went flying", if he spilled his drink, he "drenched half the pub with export strength lager" …
On the other hand, never bend the truth to breaking point. The groom won't appreciate being the butt of a fabricated story, and may doubt your motives for cooking it up in the first place. After all, today's about him, not you. If you're looking to score laughs at the expense of the truth, save it for the next open-mike night at your local comedy club.
NOT WAVING, BUT DRONING
The human voice is a mighty tool. It can call men to battle and lure women to bed …
There is no pre-established need for your best man's speech to do either of the above, however it should be noted that your story-telling will only succeed if you are able to exploit your own innate dramatic talents and unlock the power of your voice.
If you drone on like the bastard child of Ken Livingtsone and Steven Hawking, you'll lose the room, however funny your anecdote. Instead, when practicing your speech, experiment with your intonation - the rise and fall of your voice - and with the characterisation of different people in your story. When it comes to the groom's part, why not try doing an impression of him? If it's even vaguely recognizable, it'll get a giggle.
On a related note, body language can help too. Don't be afraid to throw yourself about a bit in the telling of an energetic tale. That said, if you're relying on note cards to get you through your speech, go easy on the dramatic flourish, or you'll end up tossing them all over the front row.