The Best Man Speech paradox

So, you want to write a great Best Man speech but aren’t sure if you’re overstepping the mark…? Let me introduce you to the Best Man paradox.

Most of us have heard a typical Best Man’s speech. It is laden with take downs, shot through with sarcasm and brimming with barbs. Yet it is, paradoxically, all about love, friendship and respect for the Groom.

Not sure about that? OK. Imagine you were the Groom and the Best Man stood up and delivered a speech about you that contained only compliments and kind words. “This man is lovely!”

Not only would it be unforgivably dull for the guests, it would also leave you feeling that the Best Man only knew half of you: the polite, front-of-house you rather than the back office throwing-his-hands-up-in-the-air-and-swearing real you.

This is why the guests – and the Groom himself – crave a speech with scurrilous stories and jokes about him. They want to hear of the Groom’s foibles because, ultimately, it’s an authentic celebration of your friendship and everyone in the room’s appreciation for him.

Don’t cross the line!

But this is where it is easy to go wrong. Some people might hear a typical Best Man’s speech and misinterpret it as a compendium of “bad things” that the Groom has done. A reverse Greatest Hits. So, when it comes to their turn to be Best Man, this leads them to think they must compile a long charge sheet of bad behaviour and character flaws. The bigger the flaw, the bigger the laugh, this reasoning goes.

The Best Man Speech is a Trojan Horse

This is where we need to re-visit the paradox. The seeming barbs and insults of a well-written Best Man’s speech are barbs and insults in appearance only. Yes, they make people laugh at the Groom’s expense but they are really just Trojan Horses inside which are hidden admiration and respect for him.

They allow the Best Man to say “despite his foibles, don’t we all love this man” for 8 or so minutes without everyone getting utterly bored.

The Proof Is In The Punching

So, when writing your Best Man’s speech, if you’re unsure whether a line or joke is overstepping the mark, ask yourself this: is it a punch to the stomach that might leave the Groom reeling or is it a punch on the arm that says: “You’re my friend. You can be a bit of an idiot sometimes but I bloody love you”?

Good luck with your speech. For a more comprehensive guide, check out my Best Man speech tips page.

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