Nick and Sophie O’Sullivan


A couple of Saturdays ago I was honoured with the role of best man for the wedding of one of my oldest and dearest friends, Nick O’Sullivan, to his gorgeous fairy tale bride Sophie Seneviratna. There is a lovely story that goes with the meeting, courtship and wedding, and it really is a fairy tale. But it is not my story to re-tell.

One of my earliest memories of my friendship with Nick goes back to 1985, when we were in Year 8. I used to try and sit next to him in any classes we had in common, because it was always going to be a laugh. I was called upon to read out loud from the text book, and he decided to make me crack up by advising, just loud enough for me to hear

Your dick’s hanging out! Your dick’s hanging out. Everyone can see it, they’re laughing at you because your dick’s hanging out!

As good a way to begin a best man’s speech as this story may be, I decided I’d first take some of Nick’s advice – quite literally – and start with the last couple of paragraphs:

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.

The guests agreed that, as they laughed at that last line, technically, i got to keep ’em.

As far as other salient points of the speech, I must admit, I recycled gags from the weeks leading up to the wedding. As Nick and Sophie are already expecting their first child, and as pregnancy along with planning a wedding has been a tiring undertaking, I happened to point out to Nick one night that, at least they had already consummated the marriage; that was one thing less they had to worry about on the day.

When it was Nick’s turn to get up and thank everyone, I waited until the precise instant before he was to begin. And then I assured him:

Your dick’s hanging out! Your dick’s hanging out. Everyone can see it, they’re laughing at you because your dick’s hanging out!

The best response was from Mark, who is married to Sophie’s cousin, and who was supposed to be responsible for her on the evening she met Nick. When he spoke, his two little kids were rolling about around his ankles. After I’d finished he came up to me and said, “They understand what ‘your dick’s hanging out!’ means, but I think you’re going to have to explain to my children what ‘consummate the marriage’ means.”

The high point was Nick’s re-telling of the fairy tale. But it isn’t my job to re-tell it here – you’ll have to wait for the biopic.

Click on either photo to see more.


Job Description and List of Duties

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!

Charles & Amanda

Another Saturday, another wedding. This one was scary: out the front were sunglassed and besuited ‘men in black’ types, handing out copies of the ‘Order of Service’; on the way upstairs a sign insisted that there be ‘No Paparazzi’. Dubbed (by its perpetrators) The Society Wedding of the Millennium™ this marriage involved a current batch of talented individuals and their extended network of friends – a bunch of people I have, for the most part, known for a decade, most of whom I haven’t seen for the better part of it. Indeed, many constitute my own unreliable memoir (for that must be the collective term) of expats, ever-so-briefly repatriated for the sake of this event. All the blokes scrubbed up well. It was the women – (sigh; as Allen Ginsberg never said, “I saw the best minds of my generation on Manning Bar balcony, in skimpy tops”) – who I hadn’t seen for ages that I most regret having to scarper from.

But scarper I had to: there was a dancefloor ticket to Radiohead with my name on it. Indeed, I even received a round of applause from my table when I got up to leave. One of the re-pats insisted that I must stay while another deeply regretted the fact that he couldn’t join me. And in fact, when I first received the invitation to this wedding, I confessed to the happy couple, Charles Firth and Amanda Tattersall that I’d be leaving early. “C’mon Charles,” I insisted, “I’d leave my own wedding for a Radiohead concert.” He laughed and said “I might want to go to the concert, too.” I had to offer the last word: “that’s quite ironic, because I might want to stay to consummate the…”

This vulgar attempt at humour was politely tolerated, and understandibly so. Charles Firth may not be a comic genius, but he is the sort of talented humorist who may well be described as one by future generations – as long as he doesn’t make the mistake of believing his own hype, such as pronouncements by people like me that while he is not exactly a comic genius, he may well be described as one some time in the future. So Amanda Tattersall, his then-wife-to-be, was used to such politically incorrect statements being made. The beauty is that Amanda works in politics; she is the Special Projects Officer of the Labor Council. She couldn’t possibly have a sense of humour that was well-informed and tolerant at the same time. And yet she’s marrying Charles Firth – so she must.

The ceremony itself was spectacular – a comedy extravaganza to which I will fail to do justice in attempting to describe. For starters, the Wedding March, composed by Elliott Wheeler, contained the requesite cadence point that said to the bride ‘wait here and be admired by everyone’, and then, ‘get ready to walk down the aisle’, at which point she tearily embraced her parents. Then, I swear, the music was composed so thoroughly and excellently that it ably communicated the message, ‘hang on, I know you're ready to go, but there’s just a bit more extemporising on this theme’. And then, ‘okay, ready? Well I’m not. A bit more fanfare and development.’ The dearly beloved that had gathered were laughing in all the right places. Finally, the music enabled the bride to take that walk. Who on earth understands music and comedy well enough to compose music soliciting perfectly timed laughter? Elliott Wheeler, evidently.

The wedding party consisted of two camps described, in the ‘Order of Service’, as ‘The Bride’s Supporting Cast’ and ‘The Groom’s Supporting Cast’. The former, listed ‘in no particular order’, included such personages as a Chief Whip/Patron Feminist, a Bridemaster, a Ring Master, an Eyewitness to Nuptials (apparently “The person legally required to declare, ‘Officer, I saw the whole thing’”) and a Reader of Engels. The latter, listed as ‘from Best to Worst’ included the Best Man, the WeddingCorp™ CEO, the Middle Man, the Lord of the Ring and the Worst Man. There was a Civil Celebrant, but more importantly, there was also an Uncivil Celebrant, played by Toma Dim.

The ceremony, commencing with the directive that “during the first part of the service, the Guests should mill awkwardly and not sit down”, began at 3:45 pm with The Panic of the Groom, followed twenty minutes later with The Sheepish Re-admission of the Groom. Then The Triumphant, Unflappable Arrival of the Non-Panicking Bride took place, to that fantastic Elliott Wheeler soundtrack. More entrances of pageboy and bridal party until The Bride’s Parents Bless Her Self-Propelled Decision to Wed, followed by ‘the first unscheduled piece of silliness’. The first unscheduled piece of silliness turned out to be the Ceremonial Signing of the Pre-Nuptual Agreement. (This was humorous; it had to be. Pre-nuptual agreements aren’t recognised in Australian law.)

The first, and only, reading was taken from the Book of Engels (Chapter 4, Verse 2), which spoke of the role of the woman in marriage, and is taken from the chapter entitled ‘Origins of the Family’. The marriage vows were especially funny; Charles vowing to agree with Amanda after a long argument, but only when he knows that she was right; Amanda promising to honour and respect Charles's media empire, trifling though it still may be (see here and here); and Charles, raising the biggest laugh, by acknowledging how important Amanda is to his life, even though he thought he was pretty damn cool before he met her; but I’m not going to do anyone justice paraphrasing and misquoting the gags. Suffice it to say that there were plenty of media-types and their loved ones looking at each other, absolutely cacking, agreeing that Charles and Amanda ‘had raised the bar’. I don’t know whether I should campaign for a DVD release with commentary, or just steal the tapes and bootleg it myself. I really regret having to leave before the speeches. But then again, I don’t, for the simple reason that I had a dancefloor ticket to Radiohead.

Unlike last week’s wedding, at which champagne flowed after the ceremony and not before, this time I stood in the wrong place, refused to put my glass down and failed to turn down refills, all the while snapping shots with my other hand. Thus, I don’t have many photos of the evening. Certainly, few that I am proud of.

Okay, just the one.

Andrew Hansen and Sholto Macpherson pose while some woman unwittinglly gives us a bit of cleavage action.


I was very pleased to catch up with an old friend, Gregor Stronach, whose partner I couldn’t help but inadvertantly assault. When we were having cigarettes on the balcony, I ashed in just the right spot where the wind could catch it and blow it straight into her eye. Later, as the first course was being served, I managed to splatter her with chicken gravy as I failed to hold the serving dish horizontally (too much champagne). It’s a good thing I got away when I did.

Googling Gregor a little later, I discovered Gregor’s Semi-Automatic Live Journal Updater™. Perfect for the lazy blogger.

Kate and Stewart McCure


On Saturday 17 April I had the pleasure of attending the wedding of a dear friend, Kate Graham, to Stewart McCure. The marriage was celebrated on the Botany Lawn at the University of Sydney, with the reception held in the Holme Refectory. Which was all nice and nostalgic, because it was during our time as undergraduates and student media hacks at Sydney Uni that I met and got to know Kate.

For a bunch of photos that almost appear in chronological order, click here.