Last week I was at an event an MC’d one of their shows. When I’m an MC, my goal is to keep the show moving and not do time myself…but to be memorable. This is different from the advice I frequently be hear which is, “an MC should be invisible.” I think the MC should be the host at the party, and you should know the host if you’re attending the party!
When I MC, I have an opening warm up bit, a few bits for emergencies, and notes, lots of notes. I have the introduction for the act and ideas for jokes based on watching video or my past experience with their act. Then during their act I will write jokes based on what I see.
As I use up a note or joke, I crumble it up and leave it on the table.
The reason I leave them on the table is sometimes I need to reference something I’ve written before. By leaving a messy table, it gives me access to everything I’ve written.
At the end of the show, I have a table of crumpled up papers. I really enjoy working as an MC, however it’s a lot of work compared to just being an act in the show.
I think the key is to not make the show about you, but at the same time it’s your show!
Last week while performing at the Moisture Festival, I hosted one show. One of your jobs as MC is to read their announcements, which is a pretty long list that has to happen up front before you introduce the first act. The announcements are things like fire exit instructions.
During my MC spot, I took those on right away and did those the first thing out. It really fell flat, and I had to dig out of a hole.
After the show Jamy Ian Swiss pulled me aside and reminded me of something I already knew, but didn’t do. He said, “Never start the show with announcements“. He’s right, and I’m glad he mentioned it to me. It’s something I know, put didn’t put into practice. I’m 1000% glad he mentioned that to me, otherwise this could have been the beginning of starting a bad habit while MCing.
One thing I hate when performing is forgetting or mispronouncing an act’s name if I have to introduce them. Recently a show I was performing on had an performer whose stage name wasn’t the name I knew them by, and the stage name was unusual.
To make it easy, I put a cheat sheet on my table:
You’ll notice the name is spelled out phonetically. That helps me read it at a glance. It really makes a difference, rather than seeing how they spell it and trying to figure it out.
This weekend at the sideshow festival, they have a pre-show and then the show. The people from the preshow stay for the main show. The MC did the same two bits for the two shows. I was kinda anoyed at that. To me that’s a lack of respect for your audience. Bring enough material to … Continue reading “Emceeing a show”
This weekend at the sideshow festival, they have a pre-show and then the show. The people from the preshow stay for the main show. The MC did the same two bits for the two shows. I was kinda anoyed at that. To me that’s a lack of respect for your audience. Bring enough material to fill the time.
Being the MC on a show is hard to do, especially a variety show. You’ve got to keep it moving and you’ve got to fill time. A good MC will talk to acts before the show to get an idea of their set up and take down. Based on that you’ll know what bits fill what spaces best.
An good MC is one of those things that you aren’t aware of, but when you see a bad one it’s obvious. The key to MCing is talking to the acts, and watching them. That way if anything happens, you can reference it in between…or are prepared for a mess, props moving behind you and with time to fill.