How to be funny!
We’ve scoured the writings of some the worlds expert comedians and picked out some areas of opportunity for all the best men out there on how to be funny. Follow some of these tips and you’ll have them laughing like McIntyre!
Self depreciation (or taking the pi** out of oneself)
A sure fire way to get any audience on side, in the UK at least, is to deliver a good solid self depreciating gag about yourself. Michael McIntyre often remarks that he looks like a fat Chinese man. According to comic Jan McInnis this because fundamentally people want to feel superior to the comic. So if you’re bald, have a big belly or a crazy hairdo, then mention it! Not only will it make the audience feel more endeared toward you, it will also let the audience know that you KNOW you’re bald! So for example:
“The great advantage of being bald on day like today is that, when the photographer calls of the wedding shot, all I have to do is straighten my tie.”
Or to give its fancy name ‘cognitive incongruity’ is when the audience thinks you’re talking about one thing but the punchline is then revealed to be something different. Much the same as a magic trick this misdirection leads to a unexpected but pleasant surprise at the end. This can be a single joke or an entire story, examples include:
“Ladies and gentlemen, if there’s anybody here this afternoon who’s feeling nervous, apprehensive and a little unwell at the thought of what lies ahead, it’s probably because you have just got married to Dave Armstrong!”
You’ll need at least three of these for your speech that involve the groom. As discussed in our earlier section – how to write a best man speech – you can boost your existing knowledge by contacting as many people who know the groom as possible – friends, siblings, the bride and family members. These are usually the richest source of inspiration for your material.
The types of stories that comics report as being funny include:
- Fish out of water – perhaps on holiday, a new hobby, approaching girls, at a job.
- Slapstick – a particular incident that happened unexpectedly or saw the groom exposed in some way. Was there an emotional reaction that was inappropriate to a given situation? The unique personal approach of the groom may have led to an overreaction, underreaction, or unanticipated reaction.
- Resistance to conformity – this might be in foreign climates, encountering new people or situations
- Misfortune, fear or inadequacy are also good grounds out of which to cultivate a good story about the groom.
“I spoke to a few of Dave’s work colleagues in preparation for today. In fact there are a few dotted around the place today. Well Dave you will be pleased to know that they unanimously referred to you as godlike….when asked to qualify this they said – they never see you, you make your own rules and if you do any work it’s a bloody miracle!”
These are pre-rehersed gags you can use on the day that are likely to raise a laugh. These might be the use of photographs and props such as toasted bread or alternatively you could arrange the key collection gag. Here’s how it works:
Collect house keys from friends at the wedding but make sure that the bride and groom don’t know what you’re doing. Pass them out to as many women as possible (asking for them to keep it secret). During your speech, announce the “The bride realises that the groom has had many girlfriends over the years. She would appreciate it if any of them who have keys to his place could please return them now.” At this point all the women to bring their keys to the top table. You get extra laughs if there is either a pregnant woman in the party and/ or a grannie!
This is ending your speech by referring to an earlier joke or idea —this brings a nice neat end to the speech and concludes on a funny note. In this example, having exposed the groom as being a secret user of tanning machines you might round up by saying:
“And finally, if Marc returns from his honeymoon looking healthy and tanned don’t assume it’s all because of the Arabian sun as I gather the girls over at Tangos Tanning Parlour have donated a gift voucher to the value of his usual session – 10 minutes on a stand up – to their most valued customer!”