Posts Tagged ‘Comedy’

FREE Lord of the Rams Story – Part 2

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

It’s fitting—given that Saint Patrick’s Day falls this week—that Part 2 of this exclusive Lord of the Rams story takes place on a 5-day Saint Paddy’s Day holiday to Latvia in 2006.

After celebrating the public holiday in Riga, partaking in some hair-raising bobsleighing in Sigulda, and ordering dinner from an unusual menu in a Cesis restaurant, our intrepid adventurers set off to find a good pub in what is a very small and quiet town.

Note: Please read Part 1 of this story prior to reading Part 2 below (which continues directly from the end of Part 1).


…………………Draft excerpt from Lord of the Rams 2: A Tale of Four Continents…………………

‘Do you know any good bars around here?’ Rams asked the fresh-faced brunette waitress.

‘There is a bar about 100 metres from here,’ she replied. ‘It is called “Boomerangs”.’ She wrote some basic directions on a piece of paper and, as she handed it to Rams, he produced a crumpled parchment of his own.

‘And do you know where this nightclub is?’ he asked, pointing at his almost illegible scrawl.

‘Ah, Vidzemnieks,’ said the waitress excitedly. ‘I am going there later with my friends. It’s a very good place.’

Rams, delighted that his little bit of research on C?sis was beginning to pay off, decided to turn the Irish charm up a notch.

‘That’s fantastic. Sure we’ll have to have a drink and a dance later so. A bit of Riverdance.’

The waitress blushed, smiled and told the lads she would see them later. With Winston and Tom still waiting for their food, the four refreshed farmers decided to head to Boomerangs for a few drinks.

‘Sure we’ll see yas there within the hour,’ said Rams to the Tipperary pair before departing Cafe Popular. Following some good-humoured banter with the friendly blonde receptionist, the lads finally made their way up the town in search of Boomerangs.

‘That’s funny,’ said the Rams, looking at the waitress’s directions. ‘She pronounced the bar as “Boomerangs” but she spelled it as “Bumerangs”.’

‘So long as it’s not The George we’re going to,’ said Eugene, referring to Dublin’s infamous gay club.

‘I’d say we’re alright, Eugene,’ reassured the Rams. ‘She wouldn’t do that to us.’

Only half a dozen customers were enjoying a frosty March pint when the four Irish lads walked into Bumerangs like they owned the place. Four of the six existing customers were propping up the bar, all of them eyeing the strangers with suspicion.

Eugene ordered four beers from the barwoman as Rams jested once again with a still hungry Terry and Bowers about their sumptuous evening meal. Although Rams had his back turned to the four locals, he noticed they were beginning to raise their voices somewhat aggressively.

‘I hope these lads aren’t going to start anything,’ Rams whispered to Terry.

Suddenly the barwoman asked the lads where they were from, and she translated Bowers’s reply to the locals.

‘I’m just going to the jacks,’ said Rams to his friends. ‘We might want to drink up and blow this joint when I get back.’

Moments later Rams returned from the toilet just in time to see the ‘leader’ of the group purchasing a large bottle of vodka and presenting it to Eugene. By now Terry and Bowers were looking a bit nervous, perhaps wondering what motives lay behind their new friend’s most generous gesture. Eugene, for his part, tried in vain to give the vodka back to the Latvian man who was now sitting on the stool next to him.

‘You’re not going to drink that, are ya?’ Rams asked as Eugene grabbed a few shot glasses from the bar counter.

‘Sure what choice do I have? He won’t take “no” for an answer.’

So Eugene opened the bottle of vodka and poured generous shots for himself, Terry and Bowers. Rams, along with all four of the locals, declined the offer of a drink. Instead he supped on the remnants of his warm beer, waiting to see what would happen next.

It turned out that Eugene’s benefactor had a basic understanding of English, and his gift to the lads now presented him with the perfect opening to start a conversation with them—particularly Eugene.

‘Where are you from?’ he asked, as if the barwoman’s earlier translation had fallen on deaf ears.

‘Ireland,’ replied Eugene, smiling and somewhat bemused by the friendliness of the man.

‘And what is your sexual orientation?’

Terry nearly choked on his vodka, and Bowers looked like he was about to shit himself as he observed all four large Latvian men staring at Eugene in anticipation of a favourable reply.

Like most Munterconnaught men, Eugene needed but a fraction of a second to reply.

‘Women, women. I’m married,’ he stuttered before following up with, ‘Anything split down the front,’ and a nervous laugh.

One could probably have heard a mouse fart at that moment in Bumerangs—Eugene sitting sheepishly on his stool, four angry but horny Latvians salivating beside him, Terry and Bowers gulping down their vodkas, and Rams making sure he had his arse against a wall in case things turned nasty in a Deliverance sort of way.

‘What time did ya say the flight is going at, Rams?’ said Eugene, his shifting eyes indicating to his friend that a convincing tarradiddle was urgently required.

‘I think it’s leaving at three o’clock tonight. We’d want to be making tracks soon if we’re going to make that flight.’

‘Do you know how long it takes to get from here to Riga?’ Eugene asked his Latvian friend in an attempt to change the conversation and justify his imminent departure. ‘We are flying back to Ireland tonight, so we need to get a taxi to Riga.’

‘It’s about two hours from here,’ came the frosty reply.

Eugene necked the remainder of his vodka and turned to his friends.

‘Right, we’d better head for the airport.’

But the lads were already half-way out of the pub. Eugene once again attempted in vain to return the bottle of vodka to the Latvian, and then he too made haste for the exit.

‘You need to be truthful about your sexuality,’ called the Latvian after Eugene.

‘What sort of a place was that?’ asked Eugene as the lads walked briskly away from Bumerangs.

‘I don’t know but we won’t be making it the local,’ replied Rams.

—END—

Ronan Smith is the author of Munterconnaught’s best selling comedy memoir, Lord of the Rams. Described as “a real treat to read that you will devour” (The Irish Post), “a diverting and entertaining read” (Evening Herald) and “genuinely funny” (Books Ireland), the book can be purchased for €10 (including worldwide P&P) directly from the author via http://www.lordoftherams.com/buythebooksigned.htm. Read FREE extracts of the book at www.lordoftherams.com.

Writing a Best Man Speech: 7 Tricks of the Trade + Video

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

I was very honoured and proud when Stephen, one of my closest friends, asked me to be his Best Man a number of years ago. For me, the role of Best Man is perhaps the greatest honour one male friend can bestow upon another, so I was genuinely humbled and excited by the task ahead.

Obviously the Best Man has a number of roles, but the most important one is undoubtedly the speech. I had already attended a number of weddings but could remember very little of the Best Man speeches – i.e. many of them were instantly forgettable. For Stephen’s wedding, I wanted to deliver something that:

  • Would make the newly married couple and their families proud, without embarrassing or offending anybody
  • Would be original, entertaining and fondly recalled by the guests.

In the months leading up to the wedding, Stephen gave me a Best Man speech-writing book he owned. He and I both presumed it might be of use. Upon reading the book, however, my first thought was that it was rife with bland and clichéd examples, boring advice, and negligible humour. I knew there was virtually nothing in the book that I would use in my speech. Part of this probably stemmed from the fact that, for better or worse, I often tend to do things my way – by ignoring or tearing up the rulebook.

So that’s what I did. Right from the off, I envisaged doing something visual – perhaps telling a story via a PowerPoint presentation. This might seem like a brave move – one to be tackled only by somebody who is very at ease with public-speaking. But in fact the opposite was true. I had never spoken in front of 130 people before, and I dreaded the thought of standing in front of them – everybody staring at me as I draw a blank and forget my lines. If at all possible, I didn’t want to be relying on notes either – fumbling through them to find the next part of my speech (as I’d often seen at weddings).

A PowerPoint speech would help deflect the guests’ attention from me to a large screen. It would also act as a visual aid, helping me to remember my lines easier. Possible technical issues aside (with the laptop, projector and remote), the PowerPoint option seemed like the way to go.

So I began thinking of ideas for the speech – running them through in my head and then looking for images to bring the “story” to life. Despite my insistence of doing things my way, there were a number of “rules” that I tried to follow, and that I would advise others to follow when writing a Best Man’s speech.

1        Know your audience
There will be a broad range of people at any wedding: young children, elderly people, maybe a priest or two. With that in mind, make sure the speech is profanity-free and that you don’t talk about ex-girlfriends or how your friend was a big slut in a past life – this is neither clever nor funny.

2        Reach out to your audience
Your speech should appeal to a large demographic. Not everybody at the wedding will know the groom well, or the bride for that matter. Your job is to ensure that you talk about the groom in an entertaining way so that your stories paint him in a strong light and reveal something of his personal life. Even though the speech I wrote for Stephen’s wedding was a tongue-in-cheek sketch of sorts, I did manage to incorporate plenty of real-life facts such as Stephen’s school nickname, his achievements at school and college, his science background, the first date with his wife, etc.

3        Don’t forget about the bride and bridesmaids
Most Best Man speeches should begin with compliments, firstly to the bridesmaids and then to the bride (I edited this section out of my speech on YouTube in order to cut to the chase). Towards the end of the speech, you should try to introduce the bride into the proceedings – perhaps with a funny tale about how she and the groom met.

4        Rehearse – but wait until the day before the wedding so that the speech is fresh in your mind
I was fine-tuning the speech for Stephen’s wedding right up until the evening before the big day. Only then did I begin rehearsing it. First I rehearsed it using sheets of cardboard  (containing the entire text for the speech) and then I began rehearsing it without the notes – only referring to them when I got stuck or drew a blank. After I had delivered the speech about three times without forgetting any bits or leaving anything out, I was reasonably confident that the work was done and I was (almost) ready for the real thing. To rehearse any speech, I would recommend that you are in a room on your own, free from distractions. I also used the TV remote as a practice microphone to help with the rehearsal process – you’d be surprised how awkward a microphone-shy speaker can appear if he hasn’t held a mic before.

5        Accept that not everything will go right on the day
No matter how much you rehearse a speech, it’s unlikely that you will remember everything you intended to say. I’ve been fortunate enough to be Best Man at three weddings (Stephen’s was the first) and, for all three speeches, I can recall inadvertently omitting small-medium chunks. Fortunately, all my speeches were in the 10-15 minute range so when I forgot something, I just moved on – and my audience was usually none the wiser. And sometimes I didn’t even realise I had left out bits until afterwards. If you’ve practiced your speech enough, then you won’t forget anything critical on the day. There will always be natural wastage, but chances are you will add a few ad-lib pieces on the day, so it will all balance out.

6        Nerves are Normal
I was very nervous on the day of Stephen’s wedding – sweating like a pig in fact. And because my speech was dependant on the seamless integration of a laptop and projector, I had to worry about potential technical difficulties as well as fluffing my lines. Apart from a nervous start and almost tourettes-like use of “Em” throughout the speech (which I also put down to nerves), I think I delivered the speech as well as I could. But practice makes perfect, and by the time I delivered my third Best Man speech in June 2010, I can honestly say that I wasn’t nervous at all. Nerves are normal though. Try to ensure you open your speech with a witty one-liner/introduction – this will help put both the audience and you at ease. Then you can relax and charge on with the rest of your speech.

7        Enjoy the Experience!
Speaking in front of a large audience at a wedding can be a very rewarding experience. You will never have a more receptive audience – and the free-flowing wine at most Irish weddings certainly helps in this regards. Have a few drinks yourself to relax, but don’t overdo it. Once the speech is behind you, you can enjoy the rest of the night and hopefully bask in the glory – plus handshakes and multiple congratulations – of a job well done. Remember, your friend could have asked anybody in the world to be his Best Man, but he chose you. So you owe it to him to do your best. As my mother used to say when I was a young lad, ‘As long as you do your best, then I’ll be happy.’ Touché.

So, here’s my speech from 2006. I hope you enjoy watching it as much I enjoyed doing it.

Best Man Speech by the Lord of the Rams

Ronan Smith is the author of Munterconnaught’s best selling comedy memoir, Lord of the Rams. Described as “a real treat to read that you will devour” (The Irish Post), “a diverting and entertaining read” (Evening Herald) and “genuinely funny” (Books Ireland), the book can be purchased for €10 (including worldwide P&P) directly from the author via http://www.lordoftherams.com/buythebooksigned.htm. Read FREE extracts of the book at www.lordoftherams.com.

FREE Lord of the Rams Story – Part 1

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

Happy New Year. Although I’m working away on my first fiction novel, Dirtbirds, I haven’t totally forgotten about Lord of the Rams 2: A Tale of Four Continents, the sequel to Munterconnaught’s biggest selling book of 2008. Whilst the book is on hold for the time being, I hope to share the odd (rough) extract here from time to time.

The story below takes place in Latvia in 2006—I was actually recounting it to a group of people over the weekend, and I thought it would be no harm to post the written version online. Like the Vegas story I posted last year, Part 1 of this tale involves ordering food in a restaurant. Part 2 will be published to this blog in March. Feel free to comment below or share this link with your friends.

…………………Draft excerpt from Lord of the Rams 2: A Tale of Four Continents…………………
A taxi from Sigulda took the lads to Cesis in an hour. Regarded by many Latvians as an enduring example of pre-war, small-town Latvia, Cesis was characterised by some seductive narrow streets, castle ruins and—on this occasion—ankle-deep snow. It was a far cry from the busy city of Riga, and Rams was delighted with the opportunity to visit the ‘real Latvia’.

After checking into Hotel Cesis—a charming, recently modernised inter-war hotel overlooking the main square—the lads decided to freshen up before meeting for dinner in the hotel’s restaurant. Rams and Eugene were the first to show their faces in Cafe Popular. Both men were ravenous and decided to order dinner and let the others play catch-up when they arrived. The menu was a little strange in that it contained a number of weirdly-named dishes with no accompanying text to describe what the ingredients might be. Fortunately, Rams managed to find a fillet steak amongst the unconventional list, and he and Eugene ordered one each.

Terry arrived at the table just as the waitress finished taking the lads’ orders.

‘Jaysis, I’m starving,’ he announced. Quickly flicking through the menu, he turned impatiently to the Rams.

‘What did you order?’ he asked.

Winking surreptitiously at Eugene, Rams replied, ‘the “Farmer’s Refreshment”.’

‘And what’s that, now?’ asked Terry.

‘It’s a sort of a mixed grill,’ interjected Eugene. ‘Everything fucked in on it.’

‘Perfect,’ said Terry, calling over the waitress and ordering the mysterious dish.

Ten minutes later Bowers walked into the restaurant only to find Rams and Eugene tucking into prime slabs of fillet.

‘That looks the job,’ he said, eyeing the steaks hungrily. ‘What is it?’

‘It’s a Farmer’s Refreshment,’ said Rams mischievously. ‘It’s a savage feed. Ya may order one.’

Bowers, like everyone else at the table, had never eaten a Farmer’s Refreshment before, and his suspicious nature directed him towards Terry for reassurance.

‘What are you going for?’ he asked.

‘The same as the boys,’ said Terry, an unwitting accomplice to Rams’s prank.

Bowers, still not convinced, decided to order the only fish item on the menu.

‘I’m sorry, we have no fish today,’ said the waitress.

‘Alright, I’ll have the Farmer’s Refreshment,’ said Bowers.

Moments later Terry’s dinner was served and, much to the delight of Rams and Eugene, it was nothing but an omelette with a small side salad.

‘A fine refreshing feed for a farmer,’ laughed Rams while polishing off the remainder of his slab of beef.

‘You’re a fuckin’ bollocks, Rams. And you too, Tighe,’ howled Terry, but he couldn’t help but crack a smile at the childish antics of the Munterconnaught pair. More laughter ensued when Bowers’s fine steak-free dinner arrived.

‘Don’t go for the Farmer’s Refreshment whatever you do,’ Bowers warned Winston and Tom when they showed up moments later and began examining the menu. As the two Tipperary men scanned the menu for something that didn’t equate to rabbit food, Rams ordered more drinks for the table. But he was already thinking about where the lads might go after dinner.

To be continued …

—END—

Want to read more? Perhaps you might enjoy my original comedy memoir set in Ireland during the 1980s and 1990s. Purchase Lord of the Rams: The Greatest Story Never Told (Now only €10 with free worldwide postage and packaging).


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