How to be a Stand-up Best Man

(August 2018)

There's no better feeling in the world than that moment when a joke lands and the room lights up. The funny starts flowing, people's cheeks start glowing, and the audience waits with bated breath for the next one-liner you're about to serve up.

Stand-up comedians enjoy this several times a week - at least the good ones do - but what about an ordinary schmuck like you? How can an averagely funny best man turn a half-decent wedding speech into something deserving of its own Netflix special?

Simple. Do what Keith Chegwin did his entire career. Plagiarise.

  1. "It's no surprise that Pete's getting married first out of the two of us. He was always the Casanova of the group. I've never been any good at talking to women. I'm 28 and recently my grandmother and I had the 'Are you gay?' conversation. Turns out, she isn't."

Matt Rees told a shorter version of this joke during his recent run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, all we've done is add a little wedding content which makes it relevant for an introverted best man character to use.

Alternatively, if you're playing up your singledom status, how about this repurposed gag, based on a line by Daniel Audritt:

  1. "I feel it'd be remiss of me to not mention my current single status, given all the beautiful ladies in this room. But before any of you try hitting on me, I must warn you - in my last relationship, I hated being treated like a piece of meat. She was a vegan and refused to touch me."

Daniel Audritt's contribution to that line begins halfway through, but we gave it the kind of setup it needed to ensure it doesn't look like a random line thrown into the middle of a speech. This can be done with pretty much any decent joke, and if its fresh, top-drawer material you need, then you could do much worse than the list of the top ten jokes of Fringe 2018 chosen by the Dave TV channel.

  1. "I've been married ten years now, and while things may not always be perfect, it's important to maintain a united front at all times - even if you're seething under the surface after that dishwasher incident. In this way, I think love is like central heating. You turn it on before guests arrive and pretend it's like this all the time."

Laura Lexx is the comedienne responsible for the best part of that line, but we bulked it out with some sage wisdom about marriage which serves to introduce the joke and give the happy couple a taste of what married life might be like. This would be a good line to end with, and if you need something punchy to start your speech, try this riff on a joke originally told by Adele Cliff:

  1. "Thanks for that introduction mate. Ian's speech was pretty good wasn't it? I'm confident mine's going to be funnier though. That may sound arrogant, but I'm just super competitive, which is like being competitive, but better."

You'll often find that some jokes seem to naturally follow on from another, even if they're written by completely different comedians. Take this next example by George Rigden, which we think would work wonderfully for a cocky best man whose just used the previous joke to open with:

  1. "I'm always comparing myself to others. I know it's not really the done thing, but I absolutely had to look more buff than Ian in the wedding photos. I spent the past four months getting in shape for today. And to be fair to Ian, he's hit the gym too… admittedly with his car."

That joke and a whole bunch of others can be found on the top 50 long-list of Edinburgh Fringe jokes compiled by inews.co.uk. As you can see, there are many which are already wedding appropriate just by virtue of their content, like this piece based on a line from Scott Bennett's set:

  1. "Ricky came back from his night out and he looked happy and confused at the same time. I asked him how the date went, and Rik told me that the minute he met Cara she gave him butterflies, which was an odd gift. Then again, that's Cara down to a tee."

All this gag needed was a change in perspective and voila, you've got the perfect joke for a bride who is just a little bit kooky. If you look hard enough, you'll find plenty of professionally crafted one-liners out there which are almost tailor-made for a wedding speech. We'll end with what we feel is the funniest and most wedding-appropriate joke of the lot, so sit back and enjoy our take on Hal Branson's hilariously twisted genius:

  1. "Now back when I got married, Liam and I weren't as close as we are now. While I'm serving as his best man today, in 2013 I asked if he'd mind being usher at my wedding. He said 'Fine, I'll learn some of his songs, but I'm not blacking up'."