MAFS at first retch — breaking the golden rule of best man speeches
This week, I went on 3AW to chat to my friend Tony Moclair about a reality TV best man speech that stank like four day old chicken.
I hadn’t seen ‘Married at First Sight’ before. At some point in 2017, our free to air aerial broke, and so you have to actually log in to a station app and stream free to air TV, or watch it later on demand, with ads, instead of something you almost always want to watch more, without ads.
But on Monday, my status as ‘speech man’ won me a spot on the Nine affiliated 3AW, to cross promote a reality show with the premise, well you all know the premise. It’s in the title. Apparently, according to the ratings, you all watch it.
To prepare for the segment, I did watch ‘Ben’s best man speech’, a tattletale monstrosity that set tongues wagging across Australia on Monday morning. Should I embed the video? Should I do what Nine and 3AW and MAFS want me to do, and talk more about the show? What if the producers actually wrote that misogynistic garbage for barbershop Ben so that we’d all embed it on the Monday? Man, I’ve watched too much ‘Unreal’ (great show). Still, the Middle East is on fire, and democracy might collapse in the United States in November. I don’t have the energy to avoid being ‘played’ anymore.
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All you need to know about the speech is that it broke THE golden rule of best man speeches. THE ONLY rule of best man speeches, and that is to not tell sex stories that involve the groom or bride shagging other people. I can’t think of a situation where the rule shouldn’t apply. Maybe, just maybe, you can stray into this territory if the married couple have made their open relationship a big part of their vows. Maybe you can make THE TINIEST ALLUSION if it’s you one or the other or both of them slept with, and everyone in the room knows it. Otherwise, no. Don’t do it. That’s more appropriate to the 21st speech, and to my taste, it doesn’t work there either. Funny doesn’t equal humiliation. To be funny, you have to be … funny.
What happens if you’re not funny? Well first of all, I don’t believe you. And secondly, tell stories. If you can think of moments that sum up your friendship, or the couple’s relationship, people love hearing yarns. It applies to all speech making. Make a list of your five favourite stories about each member of the couple, the ones that you think speak to their character. Then pick three or four.
There are dozens of best man and maid of honour speeches up on Speakola. This one, by Brendan James, is an all time favourite of mine.
10 tips for a good best man /maid of honour speech
No stories about previous partners, especially no sex stories
Tell two or three stories that paint a picture of bride /groom /couple
Look for structures that suit interests /hobbies /jobs/ obsessions of the couple. eg speech might structure like a menu for a chef;
Use your favourite funny /interesting /moving quotes you’ve heard from the couple. ‘He said one time … “ Direct speech is your friend.
Think of films, songs, poems that are loved by friend in the couple. They might give you the romantic dismount line. Doesn’t have to be Yeats. A footy loving couple might like the romance of a famous line of commentary. A gamer might like a quote from Red Dead Redemption 2!
If you’re reading verbatim, read it more slowly than you think, and print it out in at least 18 point font
If you’re using dot points, don’t be afraid to write out quotes and the one or two tightly expressed sentences you definitely want to hit.episode of the Speakola podcast (ep 1 is brilliant on all this stuff)
Use a microphone, unless sound is terrible through the microphone.
Test the microphone, and have people tell you beforehand if they can hear you well.
Everyone wants you to succeed. Wedding crowds are begging you to succeeed. Deliver with love and respect and you’ll fly.
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In 2021, I wrote a newsletter with 9 of my favourite wedding speeches featured:
I mentioned in the segment with Tony Moclair that the best man speech at his own wedding (to Kate Schmitt) delivered by now ABC Adelaide breakfast radio host Jules Schiller is a Speakola classic. Paid subscribers can read the full transcript below. We need four more people to ‘go paid’ to hit the magical 200 mark.
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15 March, 2003, Melbourne, Australia
I’m going to start off by taking you back to where this all began. It was a Sunday afternoon in 1991 when Tony took that fateful step, picked up the phone, called e-harmony and gave out his credit card details.
Kate and Tony first met at a pub in Fitzroy called the Rainbow Hotel. It was at a meeting for the Melbourne University Film-making club, of which they were both members. Soon after they went on a date which had good aspects and bad aspects. It was bad because Tony spent most of the evening bitching about an ex-girlfriend with whom he had recently separated. It was good however because this prevented him from mentioning military aircraft for the entiriety of the evening.