Humour Types

(December 2018)

Imagine Lee Mack trying to do a Noel Fielding routine. It just wouldn't work, would it? How about Chris Rock delivering a Victoria Wood monologue? Interesting, for sure, but whimsical takes on everyday life are hardly his cup of tea. And what would it sound like if Sandi Toksvig started ripping on Pakistanis like Roy Chubby Brown? You'd absolutely pay to see it, but by God, it'd be weird.

When writing comedic material, it is vitally important to consider the tone of the joke in the context of who will be performing it. If you are the happy go-lucky sort, then ten minutes of self-deprecating humour won't exactly fit your style. Likewise, if you're a bit of an oddball, people will wonder why you're delivering conservative, traditional wedding gags.

Identifying your character and tone will help your speech come across as more genuine than it would be if you simply threw some random jokes onto a word document. Not only will they match everyone's expectations of you, but you're also more likely to deliver the material much more confidently. So, with all that in mind, let's look at a few categories of humour which you might fall into.

Affiliative

This style of humour is typically broadly appealing, consisting of inoffensive observations on the occasion or everyday life. Its goal is to bring everyone together through a shared experience or opinion, with the result being a whole room full of people who feel invested and included in the wedding experience. So if you're a warm, friendly person who likes to please everyone, try something like this on for size:

  1. "While Mary and I were hoping for a sunny wedding day, there is one major upside of us all being soaking wet. In the photos it'll look like we're all crying at what a beautiful occasion it's been."

  1. "I think we all know a couple like Del and Louise. One of those pairs who have been together for donkey's years while everyone asks, 'When are you two getting married?' Well, congratulations everyone, we've finally broken them!"

Self-enhancing

Self-enhancing humour describes using jokes to laugh at either yourself or a difficult situation, but in a positive, healthy fashion. If you like to make fun of your own flaws and foibles with a smile on your face, this is the style for you. However, while self-enhancing humour is by its nature self-referential, you can still divert the attention onto others, as you'll see in the following examples:

  1. "I'll admit I had some trouble getting to the wedding on time today. My car wouldn't start, the buses weren't running, and I certainly wasn't - not in this getup! I really should make an effort to be on time more often. Although, I suppose my tardiness is why John chose me as best man. Only arriving half an hour late, he was positively early by comparison!"

  1. "Jack really was the best younger brother a kid could ask for. I was a weak spindly little boy, you see. And thanks to his influence, I survived high school to grow into the weak, spindly little man you see before you. Look, I can almost lift this wedding favour all by myself."

Self-deprecating

Self-deprecating differs from self-enhancing in that it follows the identification of a flaw or an undesirable trait with a negative comment - a sort of gallows humour, if you will. The ability to mercilessly mock yourself in a harsh, dark or morose fashion is linked to greater psychological wellbeing, and this makes it eminently suitable for a range of different personality types, from confident and ballsy through to quiet and low-key - monotone, deadpan delivery works with this type of humour particularly well.

  1. "At some weddings, the best man doubles up as the toastmaster, but the bride said I didn't have the necessary communication skills for that job. I didn't know what to say to that."

  1. "Charlene and I had very different mental images of what today would look like. She pictured us both arriving on a horse-drawn carriage, dressed up to the nines on a beautiful summer's day, looking down upon our guests with pride and glee. Pretty much how it turned out, actually. On the other hand, ever since I was twelve, I've imagined sitting in the back row watching Charlene get married to a more handsome bloke as I cried into a sausage roll I'd nicked from the buffet."

Aggressive

Best men are most commonly associated with aggressive humour, which seeks to deliberately make another person feel uncomfortable or attacked - albeit temporarily. This is fine if you don't go too far and your friends are known for mocking each other. But if that's not your style, it may seem rather out of place and hurtful if a few barbs come out of nowhere on the wedding day.

  1. "Gary is so thoughtful. Do you know the reason he bought such a small engagement ring was because he didn't want the glare to hurt Karen's eyes."

  1. "Ricky is a man of firm beliefs which take a lot to shake off. He believes in God, despite being born with that face. He believes he'll one day become a millionaire, despite the fact he's 35 and works at Halfords. And his most fervent belief is that he and Caroline are equals. That together, they make up one whole. Sorry mate. Caroline's way more than you… you're just a-hole."

Heartwarming

Jokes don't always have to involve mockery of yourself or others. If you're a genuine person who wears their heart on your sleeve, there's no reason why you can't convey that in your wedding speech through some positive references to the ceremony and the day. And what's more, is that if you're a best man looking to hook up at the wedding, optimistic humour is believed to make you more attractive to women!

  1. "I can't believe what a wonderful day it's been so far. From a selfish point of view, wasn't that grub divine! Dom and Nicky really have great taste. Is it wrong that I'm counting down the hours until the evening buffet opens?"

  1. "I'd been really worried all week that something would go wrong. Not that I thought it would, I just wanted Dave and Sophie's day to be perfect for them. They absolutely deserve it. They're a lovely couple. Trust me, you should all unfollow them now, because their Facebook is going to make you sooo jealous over the next few years!"

Surreal

Some people can't take anything seriously, and if that's how you like to deal with life then there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. In the context of a wedding speech, you may want to dial it back a little and throw out a few genuine compliments now and then. But when it comes to the jokes, feel free to let everyone know exactly how strange you really are.

  1. "What a wonderful venue for a wedding celebration. I'm not sure about the brushes in the toilets though, I think I'll go back to using paper."

  1. "Niamh and Olly were truly made for each other. And you know what, I wouldn't be surprised if that were literally true. They go together so well I'm half expecting to find out they're both part Lego."