Best men can be tempted to find stories where they come out well and the groom doesn?t. Wrong. The groom should come out well, or if you are going to tease, then the groom should be teased about something he?s secretly rather pleased about (being a lunatic at parties, obsessively fit) or at least doesn?t mind (disorganised, always late, over fond of romcoms).
Pick your anecdotes carefully and your speech will do its job. But forget what they are for and you will hit big problems.
Think broadly of the journey. And make a list of everything you have to do and say. You will have to introduce yourself. You will probably have to read out telegrams and messages from those not attending. You definitely have to raise your glasses and toast the bride and groom. There will be an arc from the introduction, through your chosen stories which could get quite high energy, down a bit to the business end of telegrams, through to the toast which will probably come from quite a quiet and sincere place.
Think in 5 lumps:
1. Intro: perhaps a story that introduces how you met him and became friends
2. The groom: an affectionate portrait Let the man know how popular and loved he is as well as teasing a little if you like. Don?t worry about being funny. Affectionate and accurate will get people laughing with recognition.
3. The couple: be nice to the bride. It depends on your relationship with her ? you can tease her too ? but mostly make her feel welcome.
4. Messages: from the people who couldn?t be here. You?ll probably have messages to read. If there are a lot of people who are a seriously long way away (Australia?) then you can make a tease about their ?low effort? in not attending? just be sure it?s a clear tease!
5. The toast: Celebrate. Make sure everyone?s got booze and make a toast. Bring the room together to celebrate.
And once, and only once, you?re secure with your structure, you can get creative. You could:
- Add some slides/photographs to show the development of this fine man.
- Use a Graham Norton structure to elicit stories from the audience. For this, you get everyone to stand and to stay standing if? The people remaining standing contribute anecdotes. Examples might include ?if the groom has ever broken something you own? or ?if the groom has ever injured you? ? something he does a lot!). Pre-warn a few people with good stories so you know the audience will contribute.
- Do a visual gag ? for example if the groom has a mono-brow (and is cool about being teased about it) then chop up a wig and use wig tape to make mini-mono-brows for all the men. If you can get hold of a particularly tragic sartorial disaster from the groom?s student days, bring it out? Again, only if it?s likely to be funny
- Buy some comedy gifts for the groom.
- Set up a list of 10 things you may not know about the groom (and research deeply into this). Particularly funny if the groom is one of those people who loves top tens? (as in the novel High Fidelity).
- Prepare a song with the other groomsmen. It?s perfectly ok to make a fool of yourself, just not of the groom.
Whatever you choose (and you don?t have to do anything), practice it and really think it through.