After The Fairytale… The Laughs!

We all know how the story goes; boy meets girl, they fall in love, big smooch, wedding bells, fade to black…

In the fairy story, the big romantic finish is the wedding day. But in real life, tying the knot is page 1 stuff. The meat and potatoes of the plot lie ahead, in the uncharted course of the bride and groom's long life together. Will there be children? House moves? Career troubles? A lottery win? Time will tell. But whatever the future holds, it's perfectly rational to assume that not every day will be filled with flowers, chocolates, and one drink with two straws. Reality bites hard. And isn't that what marriage is really about? Finding a partner who'll stick with you through thick and thin? Someone who can change with you as the years pass?

That's the goal. And it's a fine ambition. But it's not very funny, is it? And if you've got a speech to give as the groom or the father of the bride, a little humour goes a long way.

The surest way to wring a laugh out of married life is to play on the stereotypes of overbearing, nagging wives, and hopeless, bossy, or emotionally inept husbands. But beware; these thoughtless stereotypes are swiftly falling out of favour, and should be applied with the utmost care to avoid offending your audience.

There are circumstances where even the broadest stereotype can be conjured without fear of upsetting anyone. If the room is intimate, and the cliche you play on is preposterously ill-suited to the happy couple, in ways that are abundantly clear to all, then you'll get away with it. If you're the groom, and you're as skinny as a beanpole, a joke like this might hit the spot:

  1. "Of course, I love Julie dearly, but I do worry about my weight now that we're married, because she is such a feeder! When I met her I was only 90 lbs. Now look at me! 91lbs… with my shoes on."

The joke starts off pointing in Julie's direction, but quickly pivots back to the speaker and ends on a self-deprecating note. It's clearly a flight of fancy, so nobody could misinterpret it as critical of the bride.

If you're the father of the bride, you can push the boat out a little further. Your relationship with your daughter is special, and your word will be taken sincerely, which gives you a great opportunity for a gentle roasting. Also, your parental relationship means any anecdotes told will be written off as childhood events. There's a clear line between the girl in your stories, and the bride at the top table in the audience's minds, which gives you freer rein to poke fun. Consider these gags, which without the father/daughter dynamic would sound much less affectionate:

(For a father of the bride)

  1. "I'm happy for Paul and Linda, but I do hope Paul knows what he's letting himself in for. That birthmark on her little finger isn't really a birthmark at all, Paul. It's the mark I left from being wrapped around it for 23 years!"

(For a groom)

  1. "Linda and I had a little chat yesterday about how her life is going to change now that we are married. I brought up the endless hours in front of the kitchen sink, the picking up socks, the cooking, and everything else. But Linda's not phased at all. She says she's perfectly happy to help me out for the first couple of months."

And here's a neat variation on the joke above. Note that the structure this time turns the punchline on your bride, not on you, by comically acknowledging your own laziness. If you actually are that lazy, and you're notorious for it, you might want to think twice before exposing to the room yourself with this one:

  1. "Now that I'm married, I suppose I've got to get to grips with domestic matters. I know I'm low on skills... I need to learn how to paint a house, mow a lawn, plant a garden, wire electrics… But I'm optimistic. I'm sure that with a few years of watching Linda do everything, I'll pick up some tips."

Remember that the bride is Queen for the day, and should never be the target of sustained or barbed jokes. And if you need a gag to offset a mild ribbing, you could do worse than the An unflattering portrait of the groom's family from the brother of the groomspeaker in this clip, who's unflattering portrait of his entire family definitely leaves their newest member looking like the diamond in the rough!