Writing a funny wedding speech is a lot like dancing; you should practice so it goes smoothly, shake it up with unexpected twists and turns, and always keep things clean if there are children present. You may recognise this particular joke style as analogous - the humorous comparison of one subject to another, a style that has been hacked to death by Andy Parsons on Mock the Week. However, despite what Mr Parsons' routine may suggest, this is far from the only format of verbal humour available.
Choosing the right style and tone of humour for your wedding speech can be tricky, and overusing just one can become dull. Reeling off one-liners like Jimmy Carr gets old very quickly, as does a stream of never-ending anecdotes. To help you keep a little variation in your wedding speech, we've put together this handy expert guide to the various different ways of conveying verbal humour.
Rather than telling your audience that the bride has a temper or the groom is a right lazy sod, anecdotal stories can instead be used to illuminate this fact in an amusing way.
"Lee was a bone idle child from the get go. He was two weeks late for his own birth, never got ready for school in time, and he refuses to set the clocks forward in March because he knows he'll just have to put them back in October".
These are humorous additions to the end of a statement which are delivered as if they are an off-the-cuff remark, something you've just thought of prompted by the previous line.
"Don't the bridesmaids look gorgeous today with their beautiful dresses, perfectly-styled hair and those deep rich tans? Oh that reminds me, I need to creosote my fence tomorrow."
The word banter is now associated with juvenile arseholes vocalising whatever stupid thoughts pop into their heads, but quite simply it refers to a verbal back and forth between two or more people.
Best Man - "It's weird seeing John married, to a girl anyway. We all thought he was gay."
Groom - "Hoped… the word you're looking for is hoped."
Best Man - "No chance mate. If I was gay I'd be out of your league. Steve, on the other hand…"
These are funny combinations of two words to make a new word or phrase, one which is easily identifiable as a portmanteau of two distinct terms.
"Those who know Mark and I will know we've got something of a Bromance going on. If you don't know what that means, it's just a firm friendship - basically we hug but there's no Menetration. Although if there was we'd be careful and use Brotection."
Blunder and Recovery
If you want to be slightly less overt with criticism or comment then deliberate blunders are a witty way of doing this, and are delivered by tripping over your words and then seemingly recovering.
"And of course I'd also like to thank the chefs, the catering staff, and the rest of you lazy bastards…hold on, that's not right. Sorry, bar stewards. Thank you to the rest of you lazy bar stewards".
Conundrums are simple pieces of wordplay or puns which rely on the combination of a question or statement followed by a contradictory joke to offer insight or amusement.
"Sara and Liam have often described each other as the perfect match, but I burnt my house down with a match so I fail to see why that's a good thing."
Similar to a blunder, these are humorous statements which appear to come spontaneously, but really reflects the speaker's or audience's subconscious thoughts.
"My my, doesn't Louise look wonderful. So virginal and pure in that flowing white gown, Pete must feel so lucky knowing that she's shaved herself for him. Saved herself. Sorry. Saved herself for him".
Excessive exaggeration can be used as part of an anecdote or a simple one-liner to amp-up a particular observation or comment.
"Of all the girls Luke has dated, Rihanna is clearly head and shoulders above the rest. And I'm not just saying that. He's been with some right rotters I tell you. When he was 20 he went out with a girl so loose she had four different kids by twelve different fathers. No, I don't know how that works either."
Irony picks up on words or statements used to reflect upon the completely opposite nature of their original meaning.
"Gemma's dress of course looks exquisite - the embroidery, the lovely flowing fabrics, the fascinator - although I'm not sure the fascinator is accurately named, as only one part of Gemma's outfit seems to be fascinating Jack today".
In its most basic form a joke is merely a short anecdote, either fictional or non-fictional, which has a funny twist at the end.
"There has been some debate about this today so I'm going to set the record straight. Did Phil marry way too young? No. In fact, he's never been out with a Chinese bird."
By picking up on trends and topics related to either the happy couple or the wedding day itself you can draw genuine laughter and seem insightful as you do so. This speech example shows how to then spin such an observation into something rather blue.
If you decide to parody a certain speech style for comedic effect, make sure your reference is broad enough for everyone to get. Here is an outstanding example of someone parodying a typical wedding tribute to a dearly departed loved one.
Satirical humour attempts to make critical or illuminating comments about a person or situation, and is usually topped with a deft one-liner to round things off.
"Weddings are really far too expensive for what they are, and this is something I know Mike agrees with. In fact to save money on today he's spent the last few years gradually falling out with friends and relatives".
Situational humour comes from the speaker's own personal experiences and can draw upon the day's events themselves or something related to a wedding day in general.
"Now I'm not married myself, but I'm sure the right girl for me is just round the corner. Unless the police have moved her on since last night!"
By intentionally down-sizing something to make it appear smaller or less severe you draw humour from your own apparent naivety, which is always a safer option than attacking someone else.
"Nicky had nothing to worry about in regards to the stag do. The lads and I were always going to keep Gary safe, weren't we boys? And besides, it's amazing how quickly an ambulance arrives when someone falls from height".
So that was our comprehensive guide to the different types of humour you'll find in most wedding speeches. Every format has its own unique requirements in terms of delivery and tone, but the most important thing is to consider before anything is your audience. If you can tailor your speech to the people who have to listen to it rather than what makes you laugh when sat in front of a laptop, then you're guaranteed a great reception, regardless of what joke formats you use.