C’mon… Giving a funny bachelor party toast to your Doomed Groom doesn’t have to be something for you to be that scared of.
What’s often forgotten in all the celebration and drinking is what a bachelor party really is at its most fundamental level – a funeral. Look at it this way, the Doomed Groom is putting to rest his former life as a single man, passing onto that dark afterlife called matrimony. He is about to drop his ring-shaped coin into the cold, skeletal fist of the ferryman and cross over the river Styx into that nether region on the other side called “No Sex Unless We’re Trying To Have A Kid” land.
If that doesn’t deserve some final words, I don’t know what does.
So, as with most funerals, one of the bachelor party’s most important and key elements should be what I refer to as The Eulogy – a final speech said over the dead body of a once dear friend. So, in order to assist you with yours, I’ve gathered together some hints on how you can give your Doomed Groom a funny bachelor party toast he’ll never forget.
Don’t wing it – This is my number one piece of advice when it comes to giving a funny bachelor party toast. How many times have you seen some poor, stupid lummox stutter and stammer through ten minutes of excruciating “Ummms” and “Uhhhhs” while they try to piece together what they thought they wanted to say? It’s as horrible for everyone to watch – as it is for you to do.
Trust me, the amount of time you take to write out everything will correlate directly to how successful the toast turns out to be in the end. And believe me, scribbling out an outline just won’t cut it, either. Write down the words. All of them.
Even if you end up just reading them off the page, it will turn out hundreds of times better than just trying to improvise it on the spot. Few guys can pull that off, and please don’t get insulted when I go out on a limb and say you’re probably not one of them. Just make sure it’s from the heart and everyone will be just fine that it didn’t come right off the top of your head.
It’s not really a toast. It’s more of a roast – You know, like the ones on Comedy Central? Or, like the ones in the 70′s with Dean Martin? Basically, a bunch of gin-soaked comedians like Don Rickles and Buddy Hackett would sharpen their knives and then slash them mercilessly into some poor unsuspecting schlub, whose only defense would be to wriggle and squirm good-naturedly at each of their steely-tongued jabs. This should be the attitude you should go for.
Nobody wants to hear you wax maudlin or nostalgic about how you guys used to play in little league together or how you used to go fishing with him – a precocious Tom Sawyer to his rascally Huck Finn. That kind of crap is boring and should be banished to your wedding day toast (if God forbid you even feel the need to mention it at all).
Take as many cheap shots as you can without making the bachelor feel too uncomfortable. Yes, you can absolutely cross the line. Just remember not to tap dance for too long on the other side of it, either.
Practice and try it on a friend – Take a little bit of time and work on it. If done right, it could end up being something that people remember as a highlight of the night. Why leave it to chance?
I suggest that a day or two prior to the event, you should ask someone you trust to listen to what you are going to say. Something that you think sounds pretty freaking hilarious could, in all actuality, end up being either stupid, unfunny, insulting, or all of the above. Getting that extra ear will be well worth the time devoted to it.
It will also give you a chance to hear what you’re going to say out loud, an invaluable tool for public speaking. It should help you catch any clunky or goofy word structure in the speech way before you get up in front of your drunk and surly guests.
Keep it quick – If you can’t, don’t even start. Five, maybe ten minutes – tops. People want to drink and look at nekkid chicks. They don’t want to stare at your ugly mug for too long. Brevity is the soul of wit. Take it to heart. Get in quick, make your jabs, and get out.
Make the jokes about marriage non-specific – Here’s the thing… We know about the code of silence at bachelor parties, but in the end…people still talk. You absolutely have to assume that everything you say about the bride will make its way back to her.
So, even if the bachelor is totally fine about you going on for ten minutes about that strange and seemingly extraterrestrial hump of back fat riding along on his future bride’s shoulder like some sort of alien parasite — you can bet even money that she’s not going to be so good with it.
So, keeping this in mind, the goal is to make the groom feel uncomfortable about marriage in general – but not about his marriage in particular.
The jokes or quotes don’t have to be yours – One of my favorite lyrics comes from a song by U2 – I forget which one… “Every poet is a thief.” Look, nobody is expecting you to write your own stand-up routine. Don’t feel bad about it. Some guys have a talent for it. Most don’t. So, find a joke that you like (that hopefully not many people have heard) and put your own voice to it. Here’s one I’ve always liked:
“A guy is walking on the beach when he discovers a bottle containing a genie. He rubs it and a genie comes out. The genie says, “ I will grant you one wish!”
The guy thinks for a minute and says, “World peace. Yeah, that’s my wish.” The genie looks concerned, then says, “No, I’m sorry, that’s just not possible. While I would love to have the kind of power to accomplish something so wonderful, some things just can’t be changed. Do you have any other wish?”
The guy says, “Well, for my entire marriage, I’ve never received a single blow-job from my wife. That would be my wish, then.”
The genie pauses for another long moment, thinking it over, and then says, “How exactly would you define world peace?”
If anybody calls you on the joke not being entirely original, which they probably won’t, just fess up and tell them that you made the joke yours just by telling it – kind of like Jimi Hendix playing the national anthem.
Hey, counter to the commonly held truth, sometimes it is the player and not the song that’s the most important. Or, as a good writer friend of mine says, “We don’t say, ‘stealing’ – we say we’re ‘paying homage.” As long as you’re not getting paid for it, I don’t see any harm in borrowing a line or two from somebody else.
Some good sources for one liners and marriage jokes are Friars Club Private Joke File: More Than 2,000 Very Naughty Jokes from the Grand Masters of Comedy by Barry Dougherty (The Friars Club has always been a great source for filthy jokes), Joke Soup: 1,217 of the Funniest Jokes from the Best Comedians by Judy Brown (the jokes are really well categorized by topic), and The New York City Bartender’s Joke Book by Jimmy Pritchard (those guys hear all the best ones).
A little liquid courage, but not a lot – We’ve all heard the old saw about how people fear death less than public speaking, but don’t use this as an excuse to drink like a fish before getting up in front of everybody. No one’s going to blame you if you calm the old nerves down with a tiny little snoot of Southern Comfort — just don’t let it get out of hand. If you get up in front of everybody and slur and weave back and forth like some sort of sloppy bum, then I guarantee you’ll be the brunt of everybody’s jokes for the rest of the night and you’ll deserve every catcall and heckle you get.
The Band-Aid Approach – At first, as you start your speech, it’s going to feel like you’re belly flopping into a lake of acid – a lake of acid that just so happens to be filled with razor blades. But, hey! You look a lot more relaxed than you think! Trust me! I’m not saying it’s all in your head…just about 90% of it.
So, that’s why I recommend taking the Band-Aid approach towards the speech.
You know what I mean, right? Like when you were a kid? You’d bitch and moan about how bad it was going to hurt when your mom pulled the damn thing off. Your imagination would run wild with the thought of how the sticky tape was going to tear away your flesh and most of your hair. The anticipation was always so much worse than the actual act.
Well, the same goes for giving a speech. Grow a pair, take a deep breath, and just let ‘er rip! Before you know it, you’re all done, you might have even made them laugh once or twice, and you can enjoy the rest of the night.
In conclusion -
“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.”
Julius Caesar, Act 3 Scene 2
By William Shakespeare
Look, I know you’re probably not looking to join the local Toastmasters any time soon, but for some good books about giving speeches in general, I recommend Can You Say a Few Words?: How to Prepare and Deliver a Speech for Any Special Occasion by Joan Detz. The Lost Art of the Great Speech: How to Write One–How to Deliver It by Richard Dowis, and How to Give a Damn Good Speech: Even When You Have No Time to Prepare by Phillip R. Theibert. Any one of these can give you a good primer on how not to make a fool of yourself the night of the shindig.
And don’t stress! With a little bit of prep – and hopefully, some good zingers – you should be able to praise your Doomed Groom – and bury him at the same time!