After Dinner Jokes

Icebreakers are not simply jokes. They are about establishing a connection in a matter of seconds – a sort of chat-up line. “Go on. Give me a chance.” As such, they are the Holy Grail for public speakers.

And like an opening line, if someone has heard it before, you’re already off on the wrong foot.

So, if you’re looking to establish this trust, it’s best to open with something original. But there’s a reason people go to Google to find the tried and tested – the fear of using a line that bombs.

So, here are a few tips on original after dinner jokes that will get a good reaction.

Here and now

First and most importantly, try to root your opening after dinner jokes in something relatable to the audience. Ideally it will be the here-and-now: the event; the venue; the audience themselves. Here are some ideas.


Is it noteworthy in any way? Perhaps it’s intimate, grand or has an interesting name. Maybe it’s extremely difficult to get to. Did you have to spend so much on fuel to get there that Greta Thunberg has started sending you hate mail?


Will people be dressed up in their finery? Will there be lots of wine on all the tables? Are you looking at the biggest potential dry-cleaning bill in history?


People in the audience love to be referred to – at least, collectively – so you might want to address them with a quick line.

“They say an audience is much more receptive after a couple of drinks. I’ve had 4 just to make sure.”

Some people might even be happy to be referred to by name or title, such as the senior team at a corporate event. If you do, make sure you view the line from every angle to ensure no offence could be taken.


Is there a huge event in the news you could refer to? Or perhaps the evening clashes with a TV show final or a big sporting event. So, if there are cheers when you sit down, it’s probably just someone checking the football score.

The evening itself

You’ll also want to signpost what people are about to hear. Combine that with a joke and you can kill two birds with one stone. Whether it’s a Corporate Event or an Awards Ceremony, you could use some misdirection.

“Everyone knows why we’re here. To eat and drink at someone else’s expense.”

For specific types of event, there are all sorts of angles for your after dinner jokes:

Social occasion

If it’s a birthday or anniversary, you have a period of elapsed time to play with. What other things have lasted less time or longer? A Marks and Spencer sandwich? Communism?

Awards Ceremony

If you have a trophy or two to present, you have a ready-made prop to refer to. Again, it’s in the here and now so do use what’s to hand.

Club Captain’s Speech

If you speak on an annual basis, you might wish to be self-deprecating. “Yes, it’s me again.” You can also compare and contrast how the audience or club are doing in relation to last year.

“They say we’re another year older and wiser. Well, one out of two ain’t bad.”


As you’re the speaker, any joke about speechmaking is fair game. It could be the expected length of your speech, audibility or simply who invited you to speak (and who might also ask you to stop).

Don’t make too much of this. Quickly move on to the audience or the topic of the evening.

Permission to laugh

No one can be 100% a line will land, so it’s best to include at least 2 or 3 jokes at the very top of your after dinner speech. Once you’ve got that first laugh under your belt, you’ll have what stand-ups call “permission to laugh”. Everyone’s now relaxed. “This speaker’s funny”. And getting your next set of laughs is that much easier.

After dinner jokes – top tip

If there’s one tip to take away, it’s be original. Don’t be tempted to use lines they might have heard before. Although the opening gags will only take a few seconds to say, spend as long as you need to write some strong ones. People will recognise this speech has been crafted just for this occasion and will reward you with more attention, smiles and laughter throughout.

Essentially, good after dinner jokes last the whole speech not just the opening.

Good luck!

Want jokes from a professional comedy writer? Let’s add some magic to your after dinner speech!

I am a speech writer with a host of UK TV and radio credits. I have experience of adding humour to everything from golf club dinners to corporate events. If you feel your speech could do with a few more knock-out after dinner gags, just get in touch.

Why not get in touch now for a quick chat?

Want more sample jokes? Why not take a look at these blog posts?