Undoubtedly the job of the best man speech is to make people laugh, entertain and celebrate the groom in a really funny way – if you’re in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. American best man speeches tend to have the humour/sentiment balance tipped much more in favour of the sentiment, but there is still comedy.
The humour part ot a best man speech isn’t there just for the sake of it. Without funny lines and observations it would be just sentiment and have no balance whatsoever, and listening to a grown man say how much he loves his friend without pausing for 5 minutes would be excruciating for all concerned. There needs to be contrast, there needs to space, and the comedy provides that.
Most best man are reluctant comedians. Many have it within them but the idea of standing up and making a room full of people laugh is understandably right up their with completing their tax return. This is actually a good thing, because it means you’re much more likely to exercise control, judgement and thought over what you’re going to say. You have empathy with the guests and understand that not everything you might find amusing will necessarily translate. This level of understanding will mean that your speech will hit the mark on all counts. You’re not left wondering why nobody laughed, because you thought about it, and worked out how to make it funny.
However, this leaves the considerable chunk of best men who believe that for one day only, they’ve actually turned into a semi professional stand up comedian. They are a dangerous breed, left unchecked and unregulated to inflict their questionable sense of humour on unsuspecting relatives. In this case what you get is either an embarrassing pastiche of Michael Mcintyre, or even worse, a fully paid up member of the Jimmy Carr fan club.
I have a well developed sense of humour, it’s just about one of the only things that I think I’ve got licked, and when it comes to smut, innuendo and graphic sexual content to get laughs, I find these about as funny as a punch in the face. However, my comedic preferences have nothing to do with it, it’s all about the bride’s, and this is a family occasion with many disparate groups with hugely varying backgrounds, so you have to play it safe. Forget verbal jousting with the crowd and your mic, you’re simply taking the spotlight off the couple and trying to out in in yourself, and it’s just not done. There’s a good reason why mums-to-be keep their good news to themselves until after the wedding, and fabulous looking women don’t wear white when they attend – nobody should be competing with the bride.
You don’t have to leave your comedy career aspirations at home, you just have to know when and how to deploy them, and for your edgier material this just isn’t the place. Don’t forget though Peter Kay discovered himself after giving a best man speech, so it could be the start of something beautiful.