The million dollar tip for writing a joke: Don't look for something funny. Instead, look for something and make it funny.
Think about all the big late night TV show hosts past and present (Fallon, Kimmel, Colbert, O'Brien, Letterman, Leno, Carson). They made or make jokes about normal, everyday occurrences.
Are all these occurrences hilarious by themselves? Of course not. Good comedians are able to find humor in anything, and that's what we will teach you to do in your speech.
Here's a method of how we can come up with joke ideas, using non-funny things:
You simply make a list of all the things about the wedding you can think of, with the longest part of your list being about the bride and groom. The list can literally include anything. The longer the list, the better, as it will give you more ideas for jokes.
These things don't even have to be remotely funny. When coming up with the list, split it into four parts, each part representing the four main parts of the speech that we talked about earlier.
Here are just some ideas of what the list could include that aren't about the bride and groom:
-the weather of the day and recent celebrity/sports/news events
-things about the guests, other members of the wedding party, friends, and parents
-how you know the bride/groom
-the location of the wedding
-where the guests are from
Here are just some ideas of what the list could include about you and the bride or groom:
-how you met
-where you met
-any stories you shared
-where you went to school together
-what street you grew up on
Here are just some ideas of what the list could include about the bride and groom:
-their physical characteristics
-their non-physical characteristics
-where they live
-where they are from
-where they are going on their honeymoon
-how they met
How To Turn Your Lists Into Laughter
Now that we have some ideas that we want to make jokes about from our list, it's time to make the actual joke, the very thing your audience will laugh at. To help us get started, let's look at a couple definitions of what a joke is. There are multiple definitions, but these two will serve us best for what we're trying to accomplish:
"A joke is a the joining of two or more separate ideas"
"A joke is a when you combine two contrasting ideas into one"
The biggest thing you should take away from these two definitions is that a joke should have at least two parts. The items on your list will make up the first part of the joke. Now, it's time to come up with the second part of the joke. This part will take some brainstorming, just like the initial list did.
To come up with ideas, let's now dive deeper into the items on your list and jot down everything you can think of that is associated with that item. The associations can be facts as well as how people perceive the item. In fact, the more extreme your stereotypes, the better - they will help make for some hilarious jokes!
For instance, Bob is a salesman - he could be the most loyal, honest person on earth, but some people still view salesmen as sleazy scumbags, so make sure you include those words as well. Be sure to include associations about the bride and groom's nationality, since these types of stereotypes are among the funniest. For example, if you have an Irish friend that's getting married, make sure you list the words "drunk", "beer", and "pub." If your Dutch friend is getting married, be sure you jot down the word "cheap". If your Italian friend is getting married, jot down the word "talks with hands."
Let's now do this below for the Bob scenario.
-their characteristics: Bob is chubby
-associations: overweight, gym, lifting weights, Bob hates going to the gym, treadmill, getting in shape for wedding, not getting in shape for wedding, fat, Jenny Craig, diet, no carbs, fast food, pizza, beer belly
their characteristics: Bob is well-liked
-associations: nice, likeable, best friend, best friend within minutes of meeting people, likes to meet new people, has a lot of friends, friendly, go-lucky, happy
-their professions: Bob is a salesman
-associations: good at convincing people, he sells insurance, Geico, sleazy, sales commissions, makes a lot of money, sells a lot of things, has trouble selling, bad economy, sales targets, sneaky
-where they are going on their honeymoon: Bob and Tina are going to Hawaii
-associations: tropical vacation, island, stranded, pacific ocean, long flight ride, beach, white sand beach, resort, clear water, surfing, Hawaiian pizza, Aloha, Hawaiian dancers
-their hobbies: Bob loves fishing
-associations: fishing rod, tackle box, boat, worms, bobbers, lake, ocean, marlin, pond, trout, bass, hook, river, cast, fishing line, net, Florida
-where they live: Bob lives in Windsor, Ontario
-associations: Ontario city, close to the US border, smaller city, perception of being the "armpit of Ontario", working class city, gritty city, gambling, strip clubs, close to Detroit, auto industry
-where they are from: Bob is from New York City
-associations: the big city, The Big Apple, buildings, the city that never sleeps, office buildings, Empire State Building, Madison Square Garden, bridges, subway, yellow taxis, Wall Street, Central Park, New York Yankees, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx
-what they like: Bob loves eating at McDonald's
-associations: fast food, food that isn't good for you, delicious, Big Mac, combo, Coke, pop, chocolate milk shake, McFlurry, Happy Meal, drive through, "can I take your order?", "would you like fries with that?", ketchup, mustard, relish, hash browns
-what they don't like: Bob hates spiders
-associations: scary, creepy, eight legs, insects, spider web, spider man
-where he proposed to her: Bob asked Tina to marry him while camping in Michigan
-associations: Lake Michigan, tent, pitching a tent, camp site, camp ground, fire, roasting marshmallows, bug spray, hiking
-what car they drive: Bob drives a Honda Civic
-associations: Japanese, economy car, cheap on gas, manual transmission, hatchback
-what nationality are they: Bob is of German descent
-associations: European, world wars, tanks, soccer, Berlin, Frankfurt, wiener schnitzel, German sausage
-what color hair they have: Bob has red hair
-associations: ginger, Irish, drunk, Dublin, Catholic, Bob used to have a huge red afro
-how Bob and Tina are together: Bob is whipped
-associations: wears the pants, short leash, ball and chain, has to ask Tina for permission to do anything
-their university: Bob went to Harvard
-associations: Ivy League, Boston, Princeton, Yale, college, NCAA, homework, thesis, masters degree, bachelor's degree, reading, text books, seminars, professors, alumni, lecture
-pets: Bob loves his dog
-associations: dog food, "sit", Golden Retriever, Beagle, hound, slobbering, walk, leash, fur, golden fur, sheds fur, snout, Kibbles n' Bits, Petco
Now, after brainstorming as many "associations" (and stereotypes!) as you can under each item on your list, let's try to come up with some jokes using two parts (the initial item on the list is part #1, and the association is part #2). The more "associations" you can think of, the better chance you have of coming up with a joke. Using the initial list, as well as the associations we just came up with, let's start brainstorming some 2-part joke ideas about Bob and Tina:
A joke about what Bob does for a living: "We all know Bob is a very good salesman. How he convinced Tina to marry him, however, I have no idea."
Part 1: Bob is a salesman
Part 2: Bob "convinces" people for a living
A joke about Bob loving fishing: "I always knew Bob and Tina were meant to be upon the moment of meeting Tina. Bob, she's a great catch, almost better than that 10 foot marlin you caught in Florida."
Part 1: Bob loves fishing
Part 2: Just like with fishing, Bob "catches" the girl
A joke about Bob being chubby: "Bob told me he wanted to get in shape for the wedding. I didn't know that shape was a circle."
Part 1: Bob is chubby
Part 2: Bob didn't get in shape for the wedding
A joke about where Bob lives: Poor Tina - I thought living with Bob would be bad enough, but on top of that, she now has to live in Windsor."
Part 1: Bob lives in Windsor
Part 2: Windsor isn't known as being the nicest place on earth
A joke about where Bob lives: "Not only does Tina have to put up with the armpit of Ontario, she now has to deal with the armpit of Bob every day for the rest of her life. In sickness and in stench."
Part 1: Bob lives in Windsor
Part 2: Windsor is known as the armpit of Ontario
A joke about Bob's heritage: "For those of you that don't know, Bob is of German heritage. I don't want to make too much fun of Bob in this speech, because let's be honest, some Germans that get angry start world wars."
Part 1: Bob is German
Part 2: Germany started both world wars
A joke about Bob's dog: "Today is about Bob and the love of his life, his Golden Retriever Sparky."
Part 1: Bob has a dog
Part 2: Bob loves his dog
A joke about Bob's dog: "There is no doubt that Bob is head over heels in love with Tina. The last blonde that he was this into was his Golden Retriever Sparky."
Part 1: Bob loves his dog
Part 2: Bob's dog has golden, blond fur
A joke about Bob's hair color: "I was initially surprised when Bob and Tina hit it off. After all, Tina's usually into into brunettes."
Part 1: Bob has red hair
Part 2: Tina usually dated men with dark hair before - this joke works because usually only men are considered "into" a certain hair colored girl
A joke about Bob's hair color: "I remember getting to know Bob in college. At first, I assumed he was Irish because of his red hair... and the fact that he was always drunk."
Part 1: Bob has red hair
Part 2: Red hair and drunk Irish stereotype
A joke about how Bob met Tina: "I remember when Bob told me he fell in love. He said to me, 'Aaron, I think I'm in love. Remember that girl from Saturday night?' I was like, 'no, I was hammered.'"
Part 1: Bob met Tina at a bar
Part 2: We were all there and very drunk
A joke about Bob being well-liked: "Bob's very well-liked. In fact, he's the type of person that can become your best friend within two minutes of meeting. When I met Bob, however, I played hard to get - it took us two weeks."
Part 1: Bob is very friendly
Part 2: When I met Bob
A joke about where Bob proposed: "I still remember when I found out Bob and Tina were engaged. They had just got back from camping in Michigan, and they had huge smiles on their faces. At first I didn't get why they were so happy - they were just camping, and they were just in Michigan."
Part 1: Bob proposed in Michigan
Part 2: Some people dislike camping, and like with Windsor, Michigan isn't viewed as the nicest place
Bonus Tip #1: you can also connect two or three different items on the list to make jokes. Here are some examples:
A joke about Bob being cheap and loving fishing: "I don't know when Bob was more upset - when he lost his fishing rod, or when he told me there would be an open bar at his wedding."
Part 1: Bob is cheap and loves fishing
Part 2: Bob loses fishing rod, isn't comfortable paying for an open bar
A joke about Bob having red hair and being from New York City: "As many of you know, Bob is from New York City. New York is known as the 'Big Apple', but when Bob lived there with his huge red afro, I'm surprised they didn't call it the 'Big Orange'."
Part 1: Bob has red hair and is from New York
Part 2: Bob used to have long red hair, New York is known as The Big Apple
A joke about Bob being well-liked and being whipped: "Bob is very well-liked. His friends love him. His colleagues love him. His family loves him. Even his boss loves him - and I'm not talking about Tina."
Part 1: Bob is well-liked and whipped
Part 2: Tina wears the pants and makes all the decisions in their relationship
A joke about Bob being whipped and his dog: "Just kidding about Tina being Bob's boss. It's not like she borrowed Bob's leash for his dog to use on him. She actually bought a much shorter one at Petco."
Part 1: Bob is well-liked and whipped
Part 2: Bob's uses a leash for his dog, much like his wife has him on a leash
Bonus Tip #2: earlier I mentioned it's good to make jokes about "non-funny" things because sometimes it might be difficult to convey the "funniness" of a story in a speech. Well, one way to convey the funniness of the speech is to connect the funny story with something from your list. For example, there might be a story about Bob pooping his pants when he was younger. If you said, "when Bob was younger he pooped his pants" - that might be funny to you, but just saying that in your speech won't come across as funny as it could be. Using something from the list, let's make that story funnier:
A joke about where Bob and Tina are going on their honeymoon: "Bob and Tina, enjoy your honeymoon in Hawaii. Tina, please don't leave Bob on the island alone. When I left Bob stranded in a canoe when we were 12, he pooped his pants."
Part 1: Bob and Tina are going to Hawaii for their honeymoon
Part 2: Hawaii is an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean
Bonus Tip #3: as I mentioned earlier, make sure your list also includes items about people other than the bride and groom, because jokes about friends and family always get tons of laughs because many of the guests know who they are. For example, let's say we make a list about Bob's dad, Harry. Things might include Ford Mustang, accountant, moustache, hockey fan, wears denture, grey hair, old, married, large TV, man cave.
A joke about Bob being chubby that includes his dad: "Bob hates going to the gym. I think the last time Bob stepped foot in a gym was when Harry still had real teeth."
In my brother's speech, I included two jokes about my parents:
"I called Michelle 'Mitch' one time and for some reason it stuck. I think Herb (our dad) misunderstood me though, because he sometimes calls you Mitchell. But don't worry about that too much, he still calls me Kayla (my sister)."
This got laughs because so many people can relate to their parents having trouble with their kid's first names.
"When we were younger, Alan kind of looked like a child bodybuilder, and I looked like Janet (our mom) never fed me."
This got laughs because it uses the comedy element of specificity, which I touch on here.
Know this: making jokes from the list you create at first might seem hard, but the more time you spend at, the easier it will become. Also, the longer your list is, the better chance you have of finding a good joke (that's how you should look at it - the joke is already out there, you just need to find it). You do not have to make a joke for every item on the list. Sometimes you just won't think of anything. If that's the case, don't waste anymore time on it and move onto the next item on your list. Alternatively, if you can't make a joke, you can always use the item for something sincere.
When I wrote the speech for my brother on YouTube, I made the list below. Here are some examples:
-he had a huge wedding party
-he loves his MacBook Pro
-we didn't get along as children
-he was muscular as a child and I was skinny
-he's an engineer and wears an engineering ring
-he had a web design company when he was younger
-he's very mature
-we call his wife Michelle "Mitch"
-he videotaped his proposal
-we are a Dutch family - Dutch people are known as being cheap
-he had kidney stones the week before the wedding
Here are some jokes I made using this list:
Huge wedding party: "I'm not sure which group is larger - Alan's groomsmen, or Rita McNeil's pallbearers."
Huge wedding party: "That's the biggest table I've ever seen."
Huge wedding party: "When Alan told me there would be a big party at his wedding, I thought he was talking about the reception."
Huge wedding party: "I'm honored to be part of this small army that you call a wedding party."
He loves his MacBook Pro: "Today is about Alan and the love of his life, his MacBook Pro."
He's athletic: "Alan is very athletic. His trophy collection was huge, always bigger than my seventh place ribbon collection."
We didn't get along as children: "Once he sent me an email on my birthday. It said 'Mom made me send this.'"
He was muscular as a child: "When we were younger, Alan kind of looked like a child bodybuilder, and I looked like Janet (our mom) never fed me."
He was mature/had a web company when he was younger: "When Alan was in grade school, he was busy running his web design business, while his classmates were probably worrying about their voices changing and hair growing out of weird places."
We call his wife Michelle, Mitch: "I called Michelle 'Mitch' one time and for some reason it stuck. I think Herb (our dad) misunderstood me though, because he sometimes calls you Mitchell."
He videotaped his proposal: "I'll never forget when Alan got engaged. Partly because he videotaped his proposal... he's a bit of a creep."
He had kidney stones/we are a Dutch family: "Only a few short days ago Alan had kidney stones. However, I knew Alan would not let anything get in the way of him marrying Michelle. That and the fact we are Dutch family and everything had already been paid for."