One of my best friends is getting hitched, and he asked me to be his best man. I’m mighty chuffed, and a little daunted, because amid the unpaid broadcasting, the retailing, the freelance (unfortunately too much ‘free’ and not nearly enough ‘lance’) writing and the reviewing, I want to set aside a decent amount of time to do a decent job. The groom is hip to my not-quite-coping strategies and well-developed modes of procrastination, and sent me a lovely little note advising a way forward. The punchline’s a doozy!
As discussed, the trick in terms of the Best Man’s speech is making it about, or making it appeal to, the Bride as much as the Groom. It’s this that will disarm and delight the audience. I know that’s hard, as you’ve only met my fiancée a limited amount of times, but you don't have to make the speech literally about her, rather make the content (whatever it is) as relevant to her as it is to me. And if you're uncertain as to where to begin - begin there. Talk about your uncertainty as to what you should say, talk about how most best man’s speeches are usually a dreaded and crappy part of the day... own it all from the get go. Trust me – you’ll immediately put your audience at ease, and free yourself up to do something original.
Also, bare in mind that this is not a big wedding, and it wont be a big crowd you’ll have to wow or win over. You wont have to get up like Lou Canova in front of a packed Las Vegas dinner crowd. You’ll essentially be talking to a loungeroom full of 40 or so people, half of whom will be my Uncles, Aunts and cousins - all extremely whitebread, suburban, ordinary folk - as well as a smattering of my fiancée’s sober, French family.
And I guarantee they’ll love you.
Honestly, I don’t care whether you speak for 16 minutes or 16 seconds. I really don’t. I don’t care if you talk about me, about my fiancee, about us both, about yourself, or about none of us in particular. I don’t care if you demo new stand-up material or spin a few exaggerated old tales. I don’t care if you dive headlong into a sea of taboos. I don’t care if you do a 5 minute comedy routine about marriage in general and follow it up with a toast. I don’t care if you recite a tastefully chosen poem and weep copious tears. I don’t care if you give a 7 minute lecture on the grand unified field theory of comedy. I don’t care if you do a 9-and-a-half minute mime performance piece or act out a short puppet show of your own composition. I don’t care if you’re philosophical, whimsical, shameless, rude, cheeky or sneaky. Ultimately, we both asked you to speak because we think you're flat out fantastic and could not imagine a better person to provide a focus for the reception, channel the collective energy and say a few words to mark the occasion on behalf of everyone there.
Ideally, I don’t want you to give the speech you think you should - but rather the speech you, and only you, can. It doesn’t have to be big. It doesn’t have to be the product of immense sweat and toil. It doesn’t have to be indulgently self serving or annoyingly arse-kissing. You don’t have to impress, out-do, outshine, or out-whine anyone. Whatever you do, just do it your way, go with your instincts and speak from the heart. That’s ultimately all we could ask for.
But if it’s not funny, we will cut your balls off.
Now I have to fight the temptation of just reading this out on the day!