Giving Long Best Man Speech Jokes Short Shrift

(April 2019)

It's not the size, it's what you do with it that counts. This statement is true for the type of rib-ticklers found in both jeans and jokebooks, because as most poorly-endowed men will tell you, even the shortest ones can pack a punch! This is certainly true when it comes to humour, so if you really want to create a memorable wedding speech, try to pare back the length of your witticisms and turn them into one-liners before your very eyes.

One common trait of amateur joke writers is they'll often include too much information in their gag because they presume the audience won't get it otherwise. But unless you're performing to a room full of thickos (we're looking at you, Jim Davidson) you can be sure that most people will understand your joke if your delivery and the general idea are clear and succinct.

  1. "Jessica's been doing a special diet to prepare for today. She's completely sworn off fats. Bad luck David."

This one works if the groom, David, is a little tubby, with no further explanation needed. This next short line doesn't require much of a setup either, which is another sign of a good joke.

  1. "I knew Gary was nervous when he asked if I had anything to get rid of diarrhoea. I offered him some Imodium; it turns out we needed a mop, bucket and a new pair of underpants."

That line would go well after a section of speech where you've already been talking about the Groom's anxiety. If Gary is known for his nervous disposition, then you could easily continue this theme with the following line, without needing much exposition in between.

  1. "Gary has a lot in common with Theresa May, you know. As their big dates approached, they've both been frantically Googling "How to get a big extension'."

  1. "To add to his nerves, last week these two fell out and Karen was so mad she told Gaz to pack his bags, the wedding was off. As he walked out she yelled, 'I hope you die a long, slow, painful death', and he thought 'Phew, it's back on'.

As you can see, we've thrown in two quick-fire gags there, and if you included a short bridge between these and the diarrhoea line, you could feasibly deliver all three in about thirty seconds. If the first one flops, your second gag is but a heartbeat away, and the third wraps it up nicely. This is the main strength of short jokes. The worst are quickly forgotten, whereas the best are repeatable all night long.

  1. "They are infatuated with each other, even if they have had an on-off relationship. Anne turns the heating on, Jon turns it off. Jon turns himself on… you get the picture."

  1. "To pick their honeymoon destination, Anne told Jonny to throw a dart at a map and they'd go wherever it landed. He missed and hit a packet of crackers. They've booked two weeks at the Ritz."

These are two jokes in a row that work with each other perfectly. Even if one doesn't land, the one that does will win you praise and free drinks at the bar all night long. In the land of comedy, it is the shortest jokes which wield the most power. They're like hilarious little Dukes!

That being said, longer jokes and anecdotes still have their place in a well-written wedding speech - you don't want the whole thing to seem like a Stewart Francis routine - so keep your one-liners to blocks of four or five at the most, and always sandwich them in between heartfelt or anecdotal material.

We'll leave you with one more one-liner to wrap things up.

  1. "And finally, thank you to my next-door neighbour for donating a large sheet of plastic which we used to cover the pavilion in case rain disrupted the ceremony. Ta Pauline!"