A good best man needs many talents: You must be organized. You must be resourceful. You must often be discrete. Unfortunately, these traits will go unrecognized by the wedding guests, who are waiting for the main event: your speech.
This moment will be memorable for all the wrong reasons: It will be too long. It will be off-color. In short, it'll be a train wreck. But one Gates Mills man and his handpicked team of far-flung comic writers are here to help. "[We're] just like The Avengers," says Josh Womack. "I guess that makes me Nick Fury."
Womack and partner Cameron Amigo, both local comedians, launched Laugh Staff this spring. They've assembled a group of comics from across the country, including a writer for Saturday Night Live and The Daily Show, to pen your speech, so you don't end up like a deer in headlights.
"The light feels very hot and bright on you," Womack says of being onstage for the first time. "Three minutes can seem like an eternity."
Amigo got the idea for Laugh Staff after he was a guest at a friend's wedding. After suffering through a roast from the best man, the groom asked Amigo to do a few minutes of his act to clean up the mess. After the wedding, another guest approached Amigo for help writing a best-man speech he had to give in a few months. The next day, Amigo called Womack and they came up with Laugh Staff.
For now, Laugh Staff is targeting the wedding crowd, offering a few minutes of material for the best man, maid of honor or father of the bride. For $24.99, the Laugh Staff team will punch up a speech you've written. For $99, they'll create it from scratch.
"When you're chosen to be the best man or maid of honor, it's a privilege that's bestowed upon you," Womack says. "The time to find out you're not in shape is not when the bell rings."
The most important thing, Womack says, is to remember that a wedding is a room full of people who want your toast to go well. That being said, don't go overboard. "Humor is very subjective. Realize you're speaking to a universal audience. You're not in a college bar or at a retirement center, but you have people of both ages there."
Open with an ice breaker. It doesn't have to kill. Just get people relaxed and smiling. Acknowledge your surroundings. It lets the crowd know you're on the same side. "[It communicates], 'This might go well, and it might not, but we'll get there together,' " he says.
Don't rush a joke. If the crowd wants to laugh for eight to 10 seconds, let them laugh. "If you get that wave of laughter ... let it play out and then move on to the next bit," Womack says.