A long time ago, I gave a best-man speech at my little brother’s wedding. I spent a lot of time working on it and I was going through a Garrison Keillor phase, so I badly wanted to achieve a folksy-yet-sophisticated humor — along with Keillor’s deep, resonant, empathetic delivery.
Because many of my listeners were drunk, I believe I scaled the summit that was “amusing” (I was still looking up at truly funny). But because I’m kind of nasally, I never had a hope of resonant.
Still, the speech was a success. There were many compliments.
Because I wasn’t a serial Internet entrepreneur (the Internet didn’t exist yet, so I’m OK with my lack of vision), I realize now I failed to monetize my ringing success by moving into what has apparently become a hot corner of the writing world — the ghostwritten social speech (courtesy the NY Times):
Mr. Ruggiero is one of a growing number of people who turn to ghostwriters to help them prepare speeches not for professional situations but for social and family ones: weddings, anniversaries, Sweet 16s, bar and bat mitzvahs, baby namings, even funerals.
Toast whisperers, as they may be called, are a popular if secretive breed. In recent years, active shops have popped up in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington, generally charging $500 and up. (Mr. Ruggiero paid $1,000 because he officiated as well.)
At a time when everything is a branding opportunity, and toasts live on for posterity in social media, few people want to be memorialized “um”-ing, “you know”-ing” and “remember that time we got drunk”-ing their way into ignominy.
Truly we have arrived in the Specialist Economy (and yes, the NY Times should be beaten for using the phrase “Toast Whisperer”).
Which brings me to Chandler’s Second Law of Internet Writing:
At this very moment, a writer is getting paid to write something you never, ever — even for a second — thought they’d get paid to write.
Keep writing (whatever you can get paid for), Tom Chandler.