Best Man Speech – the fear of death

There’s a statistic somewhere that states 75% of us are more scared by the thought of public speaking than we are the thought of death. I can only think that this is a result of not fully considering the impact of death, and over estimating just how much people care about you when you stand up to talk.

It doesn’t matter how bad your anxiety is about public speaking, and I don’t even have to meet you…it just it can’t be anywhere near as traumatic as the closing scenes of The Wild Geese. Being chased down an airstrip by about 400 soldiers all armed with sabres, whilst begging your old mate on the Dakota you’re trying to board to shoot you, is one hell of a way to go. There is no way a 10 minute best man speech can come close.

If that still doesn’t do the trick then what about considering Death Row? Not only are you almost certainly bound to be innocent, but they give you at least 10 years in an orange boiler suit to mull the injustice of whole thing over. The last few moments involve being surrounded by about 6 clinically obese men with moustaches , one of whom is wielding a syringe full of Domestos. If you think that’s anywhere near as bad as telling a joke that falls flat on its arse, then maybe lethal injection is the way forward.

And what about the burglar who ran out of a London apartment…using the second floor window, as you do…and then accidentally made a kebab of himself on the railing below. Are you honestly telling me that watching a bloody great spike come towards you, which ends up coming out of your mouth, is on a par with making a speech? No, of course not.

We haven’t even got to being eaten by a tiger, falling off a mountain, eating a lovely wild mushroom, or being in an air crash. No, death in all its forms is rarely pleasant, and frequently gruesome. In fact, the most painless exit any of us can hope for, is to be bored to death, and as yet, despite some of the ‘professional’ speeches I’ve read, there are no recorded cases.

So, whilst most grown men would rather drink a cold cup of sick than stand up and make people laugh, there’s an easy way to make yourself feel instantly more confident about your best man speech. Simply Google images of air crashes, man eaten by tiger, and man becomes kebab…and you’ll find yourself running up to the mic. Trust me: death isn’t a cosy alternative, it’s the best public speaking motivator we have.

A father is arm in arm with newly married daughter

Father of the bride speech by Zoom

It’s a well worn cliche that anyone under the age of 45 has no idea how to access any functionality on their smartphone. Reach the dizzy heights of people in their late 50’s and things like cut and paste or attaching an image, are right up there with discovering the double helix structure of DNA…make it your 70’s and switching the thing on, is a bloody miracle. So, when it comes to the idea of asking senior citizens to make their father of the bride speech by Zoom, is this fair, ethical or indeed, advisable?

All too frequently these days we hear stories about cars being driven the wrong way up some of Britain’s busiest motorways, their trail of carnage pursued by Police until they’re brought to a stop in a blizzard of flashing light, broken glass and wholesale hysteria. For the casual observer, this would almost certainly be the work of some errant, disenfranchised youth in nylon clothing, who hasn’t been cuddled enough. However, it’s always the result of ‘Eric’ aged 80, who pops out to the shops to get some luncheon meat, and 4 hours later finds himself playing chicken with articulated lorries from Poland.

You only need to extrapolate that scenario from the hard shoulder of the Preston Bypass to the super slick medium of digital communications, to see that the potential for complete disaster is enormous. Being remote from the guests adds to that recipe for complete disaster, because physical detachment will only enhance the belief that nobody can hear them.

The very act of connecting to a Zoom call will undoubtedly throw up a few curve balls as they connect to the mass Zoom call without realising it, and friends and families are treated their expletive laden rants about computers. Before you know it, Granddad will be casually insulting his new son in law’s parents, and commenting on how fat everyone looks on the computer screen. The best outcome is for this all to prove too much, and with the aid of a few celebratory drinks, they gently fall in and out of dozes.

So, fathers in law across the land, need our help. They need somebody there to make sure that they connect correctly, that they look at the camera and not at the bottom of the screen, and most importantly that they realise how to mute a microphone. For many nervous fathers of the bride, this digital innovation will be just what they’ve been waiting for to take them out of the pressure cooker wedding breakfast…just make sure they don’t go from that straight into the frying pan.

A COVID Groom Speech

It’s getting boring underlining the fact we’re living in odd times, but we are, and weddings have been right in the cross hairs of the pandemic in every country right across the globe. Wherever you live, the number of guests, and how you can celebrate has been curtailed. However, the day itself remains intact as being a very special opportunity to celebrate the act of marriage, and of course the important people in your life.

It’s really important not to lose sight of this. Increasingly, there’s a tendency to think that because there are fewer numbers, the significance of the day and how much importance you should invest in it, is somehow diminished. Nothing could be further from the truth. You’re not going to get another chance to share this day with anyone, and you’re not going to get another chance to stand up and say just what your bride, family and friends mean to you. So, your groom speech matters.

You might think ‘well, of course he’s saying that, he’s a speech writer’. On the face of it you’d be right, but many thousands of guys want to write their own speech, and at the moment they’re choosing not to do one. So, this is for them, not the people who use my services.

The groom speech is a unique opportunity to tell the people who are, and have been, important in your life, exactly what they mean to you. Forgo that chance and you’ll be struggling to find another; years pass, people get older, and then all you’re left with is a eulogy, or a 40th wedding anniversary speech.

Also let’s not forget that you can video the speech and share it with family and friends later, or even stream it on the day. So, the limited numbers are really only limited by your imagination. If you’re going to go down this route make sure you have the sound sorted out – there are small microphones you can buy cheaply which link up to your phone, and the quality is pretty good too. Nothing is worse than having to strain to hear what’s being said – you want people to enjoy it, not endure it!

So, make the most of whatever your groom speech is going to look like. Celebrate the occasion, acknowledge and thank all those special people, and don’t forget a good dollop of humour too. If ever we all needed a laugh, it is now.

It’s an emotional time, even the country’s in tiers

At the moment any kind of normal seems a long way off. We are living in a fully masked state of paranoia, where seeing friends and family can all too easily become a criminal offence, and going on holiday is about as fantastical as a trip to the moon. As for weddings, well you can get married but by the time you’ve included the person you’re marrying, 2 sets of parents and a child or two, you’ll soon find yourself choosing between the best man and the hired cellist.

The outlook is uncertain, and thanks to the media and politicians on both sides, it doesn’t look like becoming any less muddier any time soon – if Boris Johnson’s flip flop decision making looks chaotic, it would be nothing compared to Keir Starmer’s desire to lock down every month from here to eternity.

Seriously? Has Mr Starmer or Mr Johnson ever tried to run a business? Do they have any idea of the ever quickening doom that’s enveloping businesses around the country? It’s not just the events, hospitality or wedding industries that are being hit, we’re all ‘getting it’ in some way – retail, travel, sport…it’s all going to hell in a handcart, and nobody anywhere in the government or media is offering any sense of reality, or any counter argument.

The media is going bananas about ‘surging cases’, ramping up the jeopardy to the maximum, and seem to revel in every second of it. We are being told about the ‘very grave’ situation in Manchester where Tier 3 Uber Lockdown is needed as there are 427 cases per 100,000 population.

So, that means that 0.47% of the population has tested positive for it, not suffering from it, not showing symptoms, they just have it. When were we ever bothered about people who had flu but weren’t suffering from it? If you take into account recent ONS surveys which suggest around 80% of those ‘cases’ will be asymptomatic, then the situation begins to look slightly warped…and then if you factor in the false positives produced by testing, our reaction begins to look farcical.

Reducing weddings to 15 people, is as meaningless as it is useful. You’re simply delaying a really important event, which most people use as a pivot for bigger life changes. Starting a family, buying your forever home, are all things which follow a wedding, and let’s not overlook the elderly relatives who might not be around in a year or so time.

There will be some who will follow Matt Hancock’s line of ‘don’t kill grandma’…all the elderly people I know just want to get on with their lives and see their family. They were always going to die of something, and if that something just happens to be Covid, then as far as they’re concerned, so be it. In the winter of 2017/2018, an extra 50,000 people died in the UK over the winter death toll average due to Flu. The country didn’t stop. Nothing changed.

Yes, Coronavirus isn’t pleasant for some, and it will be the last disease a few people will ever have, but the other side….the lives, education, the economy and the NHS waiting list that currently stands at 4.2 million…isn’t it about time we looked at this differently?

Covid 19 Shotgun Wedding


As we are all well aware, meeting each other and having a good time has never been so tricky. In fact, it’s largely illegal. You can only be amassed in groups of six, which probably works well for things like dogging, but is hopeless if you’re a family of five and want to invite grandma and granddad for Sunday lunch.

However, all is not lost, as the government has made sure there is a completely legal way to have as many guests as you like at a wedding…you just make it a shoot lunch instead.

Yes, quite incredibly, as thousands of hopeful couples around the country have their wedding plans obliterated by a constantly changing idea of what is safe and what is not, Boris Johnson has deemed that there can be unlimited numbers of guests at a shoot lunch.

The passage below is taken directly from the British Association for shooting and conservation, and refers to the stipulated government Covid policy when it comes to a shoot lunch:

“If on a business premises then more than six people may be present in total, but they must be in individual groups no larger than six, must maintain social distancing and may not socially interact with other groups.”

So that’s it. As long as you’ve built up an appetite hosing down overweight flightless birds, then there is absolutely no limit on numbers.

I’m guessing that quite a few members of the current government know what a shoot looks like from the inside. So, they will be well aware that as the bar generally opens at about 9 o’clock in the morning at the latest, the idea that they’re then going to sit down to an even boozier lunch, and not cuddle each other after drinking their own bodyweight in port is quite frankly ridiculous. In fact, it’s complete nonsense.

Why can it possibly be OK to have organised lunches separated into tables of six for a bunch of blokes in tweed going about non essential recreational activities, when there are couples up and down the country whose plans have been decimated?

To limit weddings to only 15 people has simply made the whole event a non starter. Venues, suppliers and the dozens of businesses that are created around the £12 billion a year wedding industry, are all being walloped. And by the way, they are all viable businesses.

The lost revenue will mean those that can survive will have to suffer another torturous 6 months, meanwhile couples are losing huge deposits, and many face a now 2 year wait due the number of cancelled weddings. And that also impacts planning families and question marks that hang over elderly relatives who may not be here in 2 years.

So, it’s easy. Just have a mini shoot on the morning of your wedding, whack a few birds whilst wearing tweed, and then sit down to your shoot lunch, which then becomes the wedding breakfast.

On every level – the privilege, the self serving disparity between who really needs help and who really doesn’t, and the human misery that stems from that – it is entirely unforgiveable.

Boris hasn’t been this confused since Father’s Day


Boris Johnson spoke in Parliament this week, to confirm his belief that even if he doesn’t have clue, and neither does his dad, that most other people somehow understand his Covid-19 restrictions.

It came only hours after his carefully muddled and confused persona collided perfectly with his muddled and confused grasp of his very own CV restrictions.

Unclear as to whether North East humans should be allowed to mix with other North east humans indoors, a lot of head scratching and mumbling ensued, with a source saying he hadn’t seen Boris this confused since he opened his cards on Father’s Day.

He later issued an apology saying he’d misspoken, very much in the same way as the time he referred to the Turkish President as the Wankerer from Ankara.

Boris, who has almost 83 children from over 200 mothers, has found juggling running the country during Covid, with keeping it in his trousers, increasingly difficult. Asked recently whether a long awaited antidote may soon be found, a Boris spokesman simply replied that maybe the most expedient thing to do was to simply get his nuts chopped off.

With the north east firmly in his sights, Boris feared a backlash solidarity from bête noire, Liverpool. However, he was hugely relieved to later discover Liverpool is in a completely different country near Scotland called the north west, and they can’t complain as he’s locked most Scousers indoors anyway.  

On Radio 4, the business secretary said the rules were quite clear and understanding them wasn’t a game show… in stark contrast to his boss’s private life which is a heady mix of Runaround, Love Island and One born every minute.

It comes as mounting pressure grows on Boris to open up about his relationship with a Russian violinist. Rumours that key aides are desperately trying to develop a suit trouser that features no opening fly, can neither be confirmed nor denied.

Man accidentally marries horse

Derek Bludger from Hull was left fuming yesterday after his poor eyesight led him to say ‘I do’ to a massive horse. ‘I’m furious to be honest with you’ he steamed ‘if the bloody government had come out with their lockdown eye test advice sooner, me and the horse wouldn’t be in this situation.’

This comes just a day after the Government expanded on its Coronavirus self isolation eye testing advice. Following the groundbreaking discovery by Dominic Cummins that experimental 60 mile car journeys can highlight eyesight deficiencies, Health Secretary Matt Hancock laid out exactly what the new test looks like.

‘It’s really very simple’ mumbled the pastel shaded Matt ‘all we’re asking the public to do if they feel that their eyes are failing, is to head out in a car, with no more than one other person they’re completely not related to, and drive for no less than 60 miles.’

When questioned about the specifics of the test, the ever physically shrinking Health Secretary said ‘It’s really very simple, if you don’t hit anything then your current prescription is fine…if you knock over a bollard, then again, as you say, we will have to look at that and that is something we’re looking at in a clear and transparent way…if you plough into a school gate, as you quite rightly say, this is something we are doing our best to tackle and we all need to tackle this together…if you wallop a pedestrian then again I quite rightly agree with you as does everyone, you should probably get some of those jam jar glasses.’

When questioned by the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg how non drivers could test their eyesight in the current circumstances, Matt Hancock was able to give some insight ‘Yeah, we’ve been working flat out on this, and at the moment it’s either that thing you do with a sharp knife and your hand spread out on a table, or axe juggling…’

This has come too little too late for the hapless Derek ‘This is the last thing I needed. All I had to do was a 60 mile car journey to see if the bloody things worked and now I’m married to a horse. World gone mad if you ask me’

Michael Gove to donate brain for best man robot

Bob Geldof like many wise men, have said all along that although we’re living in straightened times with the Coronavirus, something good would come out of it, and he’s only gone and proved himself right.

Scientists and engineers at London’s Imperial College have been beavering away behind the scenes for the last 18 months to build a best man robot capable of replacing the real thing by 2032. According to insiders it’s been reasonably straightforward replicating a five foot 11 frame with one shaky leg, however, the real issues have been with finding the right kind of brain.

Speaking to us yesterday Professor Brian Storm said ‘we’ve really been looking for a central processing unit capable of spouting complete shit for unlimited periods of time who doesn’t necessarily need a whole load of information to keep talking.’

However, finding that level of sophistication has been incredibly difficult, and making it seem like a genuine best man, almost impossible. ‘It’s true we’ve been looking at all kinds of brains’ the professor continued ‘but you also need a hard wired ambivalence that when everything is going tits up and nobody understands a word you’re saying, you can just keep opening the mouth and continue to confuse everyone. It’s the essence of a classic best man performance’

Things hadn’t been looking great for the team at Imperial until an intern from Heidelberg University’s department of genetic experiments, Messer Schmidt, saw Michael Gove on the LBC interview where he attempted to pretend that he too, just like Dominic Cummings, has made 60 mile car journeys, just to see if his eyes worked.

‘I am so excited on listening to Herr Gove’ Schmidt began enthusiastically…’because to be honest with you I wasn’t sure if I am not understanding this correctly, or if this man really is a Dummkopf!’

‘In Germany we have saying that pleasuring yourself makes you go blind. No wonder this guy must check his eyes, he is the number one self pleasurer for sure!’

The team at Imperial knew they had struck gold after reviewing the interview and witnessing first hand the cabinet minister’s unrivalled ability to talk utter nonsense and to keep going when he realises how much shit he’s in.

‘We got straight on to the cabinet office because a brain like that doesn’t come around too often, and we felt that donating it to science would be just the kind of feelgood story the Government was looking for right now.’ said Professor Storm, ‘hat’s off to Govey though, he said straight off the bat we were welcome to it, as he didn’t use it that often, and when he did, it only seemed to make things worse.’

The team hope to bring Michael Gove in to transfer his brain, within the next day or so, although they have been warned by the cabinet minister they could be taking on more than they bargained for with continuous self promotion and random acts of treachery.

The only type of best man speech

There is only one type of best man speech…and that’s a really funny one. I often speak to guys who say that all they want to do is get up there, say a few lovely words about the bride and groom, toast them and sit down. Well, do so and repent at leisure.

Whether you like it or not, everyone is expecting you to make them laugh. We all know that the best man speech is billed as the entertainment, and if you don’t step up to that role, then there are going to be a lot of confused and disappointed people. In most cases people want to go for a short speech because many best men are paralysed by the thought of making a room full of people laugh, and I completely get that. Making people laugh is a hard won skill, and it takes a lot of thought to get it just right. Those guys that can just rock up and do it effortlessly are few and far between. However, you can’t run from that challenge, because you’re missing the point – this speech isn’t about you, it’s about the groom.

Yes, you might be worried about being funny, but the groom is expecting a comedy send off and it’s your job to deliver. You’ve got to remember that the guests are all on your side, so they’re willing and ready to laugh along with your speech, and if it goes a bit wonky, they’ll love you for trying. And nothing beats the feeling of sitting down to raucous applause and laughter. You’ve got to believe you can do this, and it’s far better to have tried than to give up before you start.

Fake plastic…telegrammes

So many best men that I write for all say the same thing: ‘I haven’t got anything to say!’, and this can be for a whole variety of reason. Sometimes you really don’t know the groom that well, you maybe haven’t hung out with him for years, maybe he’s really boring, or maybe he’s so naughty there’s nothing you can say.

At this point I always advocate a little bit of fantasy to glue the whole thing together, I’m not saying invent stories to take the groom apart, but merely sprinkle some fantasy dust on it to make it funnier. However, it should be all rooted in truth.

If he wanted to be a spaceman when he was younger, then I would use that to create some sort of fictitious application to NASA, or if he keeps crashing cars, then link that back to the fact he’s been born with a big head and this impairs his ability to move and respond in a usual fashion. You can then stretch out both these types of scenarios to write the remainder of the speech – what life was like for a failed spaceman from Didcot. As long as it’s funny and related back to his character, then all is good.

However, whatever you do, don’t be tempted by the fake telegram business, which at best is nonsense and at worst extremely unfunny. There are Chelsea Pensioners that are predated by some of these gags, and as most best men live in fear of delivering a gag and it not working, then this is shark infested waters. Everyone in the room will have heard these before, and they’ve all had to go through the motions of laughing gently whilst sighing and desperately thinking of how to get more wine to the table.

These telegrammes normally come in the form of ‘the girls from the Ping Pong Strip Club in Bangkok say hi’. Whichever way you look at it, it’s seriously unfunny. Maybe when the first guy said it in 1908, it had the necessary comedy clout, but the crucial thing with humour is exposure. The more you’re repeatedly exposed to the same gag, the less funny it becomes, and the bottom line with a best man speech is…it needs to be funny.