That’s Not An Introduction!

When I work as an MC, I ask for 1-3 bullet points that I can say about an act/show. That’s really all that you need in an introduction. The reason I ask for bullet points is that I can filter it through my voice.

Here’s an introduction that I was given recently:


That’s not an MC introduction, it’s the introduction that you group leader should be giving on mic, but not for the MC. Also it’s written in the first person from the band’s point of view, so I had to live update it as I read it. The other thing with LONG pre printed introductions is that I’m getting older an my eyes aren’t as good at they used to be. I can’t reasonably rewrite this in a larger size that’s easier for me to read. Where a simple paragraph would have been much easier and I could have rewritten it so that it was easier for me to read.

So for most MC’s that I know, we prefer bullet points, not a page of text. Figure out your three bullet points so that you’re ready the next time you need to give an introduction to an MC.


MC Notes When Hosting a Show

When I MC a show, I write out each act’s info on it’s own sheet of paper. That act’s paper and only that act’s is in my pocket when go out to introduce them. I do my best to memorize the introduction, however if I need the paper, it’s the only one in my pocket, so it’s easy to find.

Also on each act’s paper I write any notes, usually I’ll write their ending bit if I know it. That helps me prepare for when to walk out. The other thing I do is write joke ideas to say after their act. For example one of the acts I recently worked with ended his act by producing flags. The joke I wrote was, “That act has more flags than my neighbor’s pickup truck!” and that got a big laugh.

After each act, I crumple up their paper, but don’t throw it away. I leave it around in case I need to remember anything, like a joke was good and I can use it elsewhere.

Magic show MC notes

This system may look messy, however I know a lot of other people that do MC work that use a similar system of crumbling up notes, but not throwing them away until after the show. If you’re not doing it this way, give it a try!


Another MC tip

When I was stage hosting, I noticed a lot of things that I do that I don’t know many people do. For example when I write the introductions for acts, I spell out hard to pronounce things phonetically.

I didn’t realize I did this until I had someone tell me I was spelling something wrong. I asked them what’s more important, me spelling it correctly, or me saying it correctly?

That’s a little handy trick for writing out introductions.


Writing a Joke in a Different Language

When I was stage hosting a couple of weeks ago, one of the things that I was asked to do was a contest for the sponsor on the mainstage at the event. One day’s entertainment was geared towards a Spanish speaking audience, and I don’t really speak Spanish, but wanted to try.

I had one of the people on the catering staff who was from Mexico help me translate the beginning of my script.

That’s the opening of the script, but then I needed to figure out how to transition into English. So we wrote a little joke:

That was a great little transition joke, and the first joke I’ve written in another language.

The lady helping write it also helped me with my pronunciation. I think people really appreciate when you make at attempt to communicate with them in their native language.

It was fun to do, and I’m glad I tried!


Help the MC Help You!

A couple of weeks ago I was doing some stage hosting. My job was to announce bands and do some time between the bands. One of the bands had a very difficult name Etaoin Shrdlu.

This is intentionally a difficult name, as it’s not someone’s name or something in another language, but and old version of placeholder text, like Lorem Ipsum. I wasn’t given a phonetic pronunciation by the band before time. I had to guess, and found several different ways to pronounce it online.

Here’s tip, if you want your name to be pronounced correctly, go over it with the MC before the show…especially if it’s an intentionally difficult name!


How to Write an Introduction

Last week I was doing a stage hosting gig, and I’m amazed at how many acts don’t know the difference between an introduction and a bio. I was frequently handed introductions that were a half of page, or more!

Here’s an example of something I was handed to read:

I had to do some editing to the intro, and it was still a lot longer than it needed to be!

An introduction should be a few bullet points, the idea is to put a little bit of context into what people are about to see…not tell the whole story. You’re going to tell the full story onstage with whatever your act is.

A simple formula for writing an intro is three bullet points:

  • Where you’re from
  • Cool sounding accomplishment(s)
  • What you do

That is then followed by your name. It’s pretty simple. Sure there are reasons to do longer introductions, or more complex ones, however the majority of shows don’t need those.

Also giving tips on how to say uncommon names is super handy for the host/MC.


Visiting with Paul Draper

Last week I performed in the Moisture Festival in Seattle and had a blast. One of the acts that I worked with was Paul Draper. I didn’t know a ton about him, I think we both did a virtual magic convention together a couple of year ago.

Paul Draper and Louie Foxx

It was a blast seeing him, he’s got a lot of energy onstage and is very likable! Being likeable is 99% of the game!

Paul Draper linking rings

One night Paul hosted the show I was in and he’s also a solid host, who kept the show moving. This is an important skill when the show has 9 acts plus the emcee!

If Paul is performing near you, check him out, you can learn a lot by watching him!

PS I did interview Paul Draper for the Moisture Festival Podcast and you can listen to his episode here:

MC Technique…

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.

magic show MC notes

As I use up a note or joke, I crumble it up and leave it on the table.

magic show MC notes

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.

magic show MC notes

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!


MC Tip…

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.


Proper Introductions…

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.