German jokes at a bi-lingual wedding
April 3, 2006 3:22 PM   Subscribe

How do I make a multi-lingual best man's speech at a German wedding?

Very similar to this previous post I am to make the best man's speech at a German wedding. However there are some differences from the other post.

First, both bride and groom are German, child-hood sweet-hearts from the south of western Germany. The wedding will be in Germany, the guests will mainly be German with some English, Italian, and other nationalities. I'm told that most people will understand English, but I'd like to do something that will reach everyone, and particularly the German-only speakers.

Second, it has been specifically requested that there be no props, photos, PowerPoint, etc. Frankly, that's making things a lot trickier, but I suppose I'll have to go along with it.

I am looking for a way to break any language barriers and encourage everyone to mingle. I'm thinking of drawing inspiration from Eddie Izzard's "le singe est dans l'arbre" skit, wherein he parodies the useless French he learned at school. Possibly I'll take a German joke as the theme for the speech, or an English joke and transcribe it into German... who knows.

Any suggestions for the best approach to take? I don't really need any tips on German etiquette or weddings in general, just how to make a bi-lingual speech without saying everything twice, and without leaving half the audience waiting for a translation. Oh, I can speak a smattering of German and have friends who would help with translation.
posted by ajp to Human Relations (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Unless you're a natural comedian, I'm always a big fan of simple and elegant. Maybe say something in German like, "The amount of German I can speak is small, but the love I have in my heart for Ms. X and Mr. Y is vast. Please join me in celebrating their marriage." Kind of sparse, but if it's heartfelt, people will remember it just as much as a joke.

Although I do love "le singe est dans l'arbre".
posted by MsMolly at 4:44 PM on April 3, 2006

Response by poster: Fine sentiments MsMolly :) However, the non-German speakers wouldn't understand if I spoke only in German, no matter how briefly. And I don't want to say something in one language, only to translate it in the next sentence. The audience would feel disjointed rather than united.

Also, the happy couple will certainly be expecting something funny. Ah, the pressure.

And so this is why the Eddie Izzard skit seemed an obvious departure. He had some basic French, and the French-Canadian audience appreciated the effort, even though the majority of the gig was in English. (Apologies for not having a link, I trawled but to no avail).

My delivery would probably not be in an Izzard style; instead, perhaps I could tell a joke (about the groom, natürlich) in German, then teach it, piece by piece, to the English speakers? Plenty of scope for side-jokes and building on a theme.

Does that seem like a good way to go? Any thoughts? Wo ist der Affe? (Ist er im Baum?)

Unfortunately, I've not really got any ideas as to how to structure this without the translation problem. Hmm.
posted by ajp at 4:58 PM on April 3, 2006

the whole damn problem is to find a german joke
posted by ouke at 5:15 PM on April 3, 2006

Well, you could mime your speech couldn't you? Or keep the talking to a minimum, or have someone interpreting your antics into other languages. Or if you are supposed to encourage mingling, your can teach the guests hopelessly useless phrases (like "can you recommend me a good seamstress") from your (imaginary?) german-english phrasebooks where both languages works equally bad, ending with something useful ("would you care for a drink"). Having the guests repeat could be a challenge though...

I don't think it is a good idea to translate your own speech as you speak at least if it is more than a couple of lines long, chances are audiences of both languages will lose the thread pretty soon, I always do at least.

If you were holding a normal speech I'd recommend t have it translated and photocopied to the guests in whatever language (I've done a bit of wedding speech translations, so I know it's not unusual in Norwegian-Greek weddings where the older generations rarely speak a common language), but that isn't particularly amusing and mingle-inducing.
posted by mummimamma at 2:00 AM on April 4, 2006

How about a bit of a bad Eurovision songcontests theme to hold it together? Just a thought as a way to introduce any translations that are needed and opps for jokes.
posted by Gratishades at 5:25 AM on April 4, 2006

Best answer: Maybe this is an inspiration for you. It's from a cinema spot for Inlingua language schools.

Imagine, you're sitting in a cinema, watching some commercial spot, when suddenly le texto begins to change in un foreign lingua.

What la hell is that, you wonder!

Es is no englando, no espano, no franzo aber you verstand. Habe you une dream, une infecte?
No, you juste learn le freestyle-lingua: Eurolingo!

Es is impossibile! You es totale faszinated. You, who have permanente had school-problemos, rapide comprend este lingua.

Holy merde! You es une bloody genio!

You starta dreaming: You escapa von your frustrata job, le chef-idiot et los stupido collegas.

You voyage a Barcelona, a Stockholm, a Paris, wo you have fantastice partys et sex, bombastico sex!

Shit, dat sounds bella fantastique! You grite out loud, hey, hombre, here je coming: Le primero multiculti fuckin' grande eurolingo-hero!

posted by bloo at 6:39 AM on April 5, 2006

« Older Why are condos usually just 2-3 levels?   |   Help me choose a new ISP. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.