Wedding speeches are fast becoming an expectation at South Asian weddings – a moment guests remember years into the future. Tears drop and hearts melt. But the best man has the privilege of offering the biggest laughs of the night.
That’s not to say your speech should be a complete roast of the groom – there’s always a line it’s best-advised not to cross! – but to put it bluntly, men are stupid and it’s only fair that everyone knows the groom is a prime example.
But how do you ensure your speech is the best best man speech possible?
To stop you from scratching that urge to Google ‘wedding jokes’, Speechy’s Shai Hussain (BBC Comedy Room alumnus) is here to help you write a genuinely unique and very witty wedding speech.*
It’s always best to keep it short and sweet than long and draggy, especially if there’s a long list of speakers. If your speech is verging into a running time close to Lagaan, you know you’ve gone too far.
A traditional best man speech shouldn’t be more than ten minutes, but as we know, at South Asia weddings we like to go BIG with everything – so if there’s elaborate staging of the speeches planned then you may have a bit more leniency – take your cue from the groom.
We’d still recommend a wordcount of between 1,300 and 1,600 MAX! 1,400 is generally the sweet spot.
Obviously you’re unlikely to have control over where you’re wedged in the speech line up but it’s common to see the best man speak somewhere in the middle, after the ammis and papas open the floor, and before the dulhan and dulhaniya close it.
Wherever you’re positioned (and let’s hope it’s next to the fit one you’ve got your eye on), your best man speech will remain the comedy centrepiece of the evening. No pressure.
It may seem like a dubious honour to be chosen as best man, but it’s an honour nevertheless. Consequently, you need to put some work into the role and take the need to be funny seriously. Again, no pressure.
It’s likely you and the groom have been through a lot together, regardless of how long you’ve known each other. There’s a good reason he chose you as his best man
Here’s your opportunity to prove to him that he made the right choice and to deliver an unforgettable speech that gives a rapid and entertaining assessment of the groom as you know him to be.
The best way to start is to just brainstorm everything you’ve been through together from the moment you first met to the ‘family-friendly’ parts of the stag getaway.
GET HIS OTHER MATES INVOLVED
Ask for their anecdotes, and if the bride isn’t giving a speech, maybe get some comedy lines from her too about the reality of dating your mate.
As well as the anecdotes, have a good look at the man himself. Identify his unusual mannerisms, his quirky habits, anything that makes him ‘him’. What do his friends and family know him for? Is it his Dev Anand impressions, his obsession with cricket, or his ability to eat three kathi rolls in a row once the bars close?
Of course, as well as his questionable traits, you need to think carefully about his good ones.
Avoid generic compliments like ‘he’s a great friend who has been by my side whenever I’ve needed him’. If the line could be inserted into another best man’s speech then, quite simply, it’s a cliché, and we think you’re better than that.
With sentiment or comedy, it becomes more powerful the more specific you are. Avoid using too many adjectives and instead illustrate the characteristics you’re identifying with real-life anecdotes.
Once you’ve made your list of possible content, it’s time to cull all the stories that are inappropriate for general consumption, alongside the least entertaining ones.
Then, to put your speech into the Premier League, start spotting the parallels between the stories and insights you’ve collected. Is there a theme of the groom being a bit of a wimp, or getting things wrong, or showing off, or being a complete ammi’s boy?
Once you have your theme, you’ll find it much easier to tell a proper good old fashioned story with your speech, rather than just listing random stories or becoming a googled gag jukebox.
YOUR SPEECH STRUCTURE
If you’re not kicking off the speeches, it’s good to start your bit thanking the previous speaker, and if you’re hot on improvisational skills, make a joke about how you’re going to completely destroy any illusions that have been set up to now.
Make sure you get a laugh within the first 15 seconds. That way, you immediately show the guests they’re in safe hands and you’ll find you relax too.
There’s no major ‘to dos’ with the best man speech but you may feel it polite to thank your hosts or the parents at some point within the speech, just to keep on the right side of nani xxxx.
The basic structure is:
5 % – Back ref the previous speech. Introduce yourself to the audience, explain how you know the groom – make it funny
70% of the speech should be spent roasting the groom
Final 25% should be sincere, talking about how much you respect the groom and what a great guy he is, as well as, and this is important, how lucky he is to have met his bride
Toast the happy couple
TEASING THE GROOM
Start with parts that may be familiar to the guests (“Oh that’s such a Riz thing to do!”), before moving onto aspects they may have never got to see (“I always thought that Riz was so boring! What a badass!”). Let each of these situations you’re sharing roll from one to another, as opposed to making it sound like you’re reciting a list.
When it comes to paying tribute to the groom – add in some real life examples of special moments you’ve shared, or when he’s gone above and beyond as a friend. Recount the times he’s really been there for you, the massive difference he’s made to your life and how empty it’s become now that he’s found love. Maybe not that last bit. But the finale really is all about how much this guy means to. Leave the testosterone aside and let all those pent-up feelings flow!
And when you’re talking about the bride, make sure you say (a lot) more than she’s simply beautiful. Yes, she has a personality! And if you don’t know it well enough, find out about her so it sounds like you do!
Although we previously stated that your speech should be the comedy centrepiece of the evening, if comedy isn’t your forte, don’t panic.
Yes, speeches may still be relatively novel on the South Asian Wedding scene, but trust us, we’ve all heard those awful opening lines about the best man accepting bribes and the wedding cake being in tiers.
Cringe. 1990 wants its jokes back.
There’s a straightforward trick to being funny and simply ‘it’s funny because it’s true’. Find the comedy in the reality of life. Let’s face it, most blokes do enough daft things to make them ridiculous.
If you’re still feeling uninspired, or feel you need to inject a bit of extra wit into your speech, a legitimate trick can be using quotes from people funnier than yourself. Whether it’s a Shah Rukh Khan line like “Pyar dosti hain, love is friendship!”or a line from Homer Simpson like “To the untrained eye, I’m eating an orange. But to the eye that has brains, I’m making a point about marriage” – as long as you quote your source, you can’t be accused of plagiarism!
BE REMEMBERED FOR THE RIGHT REASONS
Of course, with any best man speech, you need to be conscious of the demographic of the wedding guests and tone your material accordingly. With a big old Asian style bash, you have half of humanity to consider so do not go too ‘edgy’. If in doubt, don’t.
Keep your innuendo mild at most. The groom and your uni classmates may love the naughty stuff but the bride and her parents may gape in horror.
Once you’ve written your first draft, cut it in half. Seriously!
Once you get started, you may feel like you have so much to say – but save some material for the gol gap stand later!
Remember, editing is a skill. It’s half the battle when writing – so once you’ve crafted the first draft, go back, rip it to shreds and get rid of that inevitable waffle you’ll find lurking in there.
Shorter is punchier. Leave them wanting more, not heckling you off the mic!
DELIVERING YOUR SPEECH
A great speech can be lost if it isn’t delivered well. And, presenting funny material is a skill.
Luckily we’ve written you a blog to help you Deliver Like A Pro. Have a read, get rehearsing, and on the day, fake confidence and smile.
Leave a pause where you expect laughter and we guarantee it will come. Especially if nani has already started drinking her Champagne.
If not, just motion the dhol players to do you a comedy drum ba-dum-tsh. They can do the tsh with their feet.
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