A wedding tradition, speeches by the best man generally fall into one of two categories: classy and poignant or downright farce.
For writer and performer Marcel Blanch- de Wilt, it was the latter for his wedding.
In his newly-revised stand-up show ‘The Best Man’, Marcel humorously recounts stories of bullies, big brothers, absent fathers and general awkwardness, using the example of the speech given by the best man at his own wedding as the show’s starting point.
“I’m presenting my own stand-up show called ‘The Best Man’, which is a show in its second year,” Marcel says. “It’s the new version of a show I’ve been working on for a while now, so I’m very excited to stage that before it goes to Melbourne Comedy Festival.
“My best man is a writer and he decided he would use his speech to say something more meaningful than the average best man speech,” Marcel explains. “He talked about how we both had absent dads, he was giving it some real thought; it had some laughs, but he was using real themes.
“Anyway, my dad was in the audience hearing this speech about how he wasn’t around, which he wasn’t.
"Afterwards he came up and said ‘you should tell your best man that you didn’t have an absent father’, which was very awkward and I didn’t know how to respond, because dad obviously didn’t know what his past looked like.”
Marcel will perform ‘The Best Man’ at this year’s Adelaide Fringe Festival, where he also operates popular comedy venue, The Producers.
Offering over sixty acts across five stages all under one roof, as a show-runner and performer Marcel says The Producers has in many ways become a proving ground for acts who perform there. “Adelaide is a tough, tough city so it really has to be a proving ground,” he says.
“Because if you don’t believe in your product, you’re not going to be able to sell it and you’re not going to be able to get up night after night to a range of different audiences who might be seeing your show on a whim.”
Being Fringe, The Producers is also the place where established Australian and international acts rub shoulders and mingle (fringle?) with newer, less-polished shows that may border on the surreal or even absurd. “There are certainly acts like that on offer,” Marcel says.
“New shows that are untested, strange and a little bit weird. We love those shows and that people come away saying they’ve never seen anything like that before.
“So there are shows that are bound to be a little bit crazy, and we have improvisers and clowns coming into the venue who have toured the world with very strange shows, but they’re spurred on by bringing a product that’s original and unique.”
As for Marcel’s stand-up show, far from a maudlin exploration of family dysfunction, ‘The Best Man’ is a humorous and observational walk with Marcel through the story of his life sharing some of the experiences many of us have in common.
“I use that best man speech as a jumping-off point for stories of childhood: school bullies, older brothers, nipple cripples, noogies and the great way brothers know how to bully their younger brothers.
“It sounds cliché to do a comedy show about absent dads, but it’s just me doing my own story, and how my best man decided this was the best speech he can do.”
Marcel Blanch- de Wilt performs ‘The Best Man’ 4-19 March (no Mondays) at The Producers as part of Adelaide Fringe.