Rob Gilroy

‘I’m writing this to avoid writing something else’

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I’m writing this to avoid writing something else.

I don’t want you to think I don’t care about this column, or that it means less to me than the other things I write, but it seems that frequently, it’s becoming a great displacement activity.

The thing I should be writing, however, is just a little bit daunting. It’s my groom’s speech.

Not to keep banging on about my impending nuptials but it is kind of important. Maybe not to most people, but to me, and selected members of our families, it is. (Although, if we’re being honest, the general consensus is that the response from most has been underwhelming.) Even from Thomson and we booked our honeymoon with them. No matter how many times you dry drop a hint, they won’t upgrade your seats. Twats.

The reason I’m putting off the speech is because, like that inevitable fear of the white blank page or finding the most appropriate way to eat a foot long hotdog; I don’t know where to start.

Let’s face it, I’m not exactly a novice when it comes to speaking in front of large crowds of people, but when most of them have seen that photo of you sharing a bath with your brother and sister, it’s hard to have the upper hand.

Performing is all about control but when a good percentage of the audience has changed your nappy at some point in your life, any sense of control is lost. I’m not beyond being humoured by an audience, but it’s just not the same.

Not only that, but at a normal gig there’s safety in numbers. However nervous you are, there are three or four equally skittish acts waiting to go on. Not at a wedding. Yes, there’s the Father of the Bride, and the Best Men, but I wouldn’t exactly call us comrades. I have no idea what they’ve got planned for their speeches. It could be the character assassination people expect from these family occasions, because it’s the only time you’ll see Grandma baying for blood.

So, like taking part in a poorly organised gong show, all that’s left is a sinking feeling of trying to befriend people in direct competition with you.

The real problem with speech writing is; how funny can you go? Is it inappropriate to test out your material before the big day? That joke about your Uncle Bernard’s alcoholism isn’t going to have quite the traction you’d like, but at least you can get a feel for the pacing. It’ll certainly help you to keep it at a tight 20.

But there’s another thing, sure my comedy background has prepared me for these sorts of situations, but it can also be a hindrance. It’s like the time I was a best man. Now, people expect that sort of speech to be funny, but if they find out you claim to do it professionally, suddenly the stakes are raised. And not in a nice way. In a, not very passive, passive aggressive this-better-be-funny way. No one can top that hype.

It’s the same with the groom’s speech. People expect funny, but at what point are you trying too hard? Is that ‘bit’ about the first time you met too contrived? Is that pun based on your mum’s maiden name really as good as you think? No one gets that section comparing marriage to internment camps – it’s too niche.

That’s why I’m putting it off, because if I’m writing comedy, then at least I know what I’m aiming for. This is something different, something much harder. And the real problem is, like they say, you’re only as good as your last gig.

I don’t intend to get a second chance at this.