How To Be A Great Emcee
A few years ago while I still lived in San Diego I saw a lot of comics struggling at hosting shows. As someone that has hosted and produced hundreds of shows, I decided to put together a workshop on "How To Be A Great Emcee" with some key points. A handful of people showed up for the workshop and I think it went okay, but I haven't did anything with it since then so I thought I would share those key points here.
Hosting is a Job: A lot of time hosting isn’t just about going up and introducing the performers. Depending on the venue or the show the host will also have to inform the audience about the rules of the club (no talking, heckling, and remind them to turn off mobile devices), run the time and light the performer when they are almost out of time.
You’re just the host: The show isn’t about you. Its about the other performers on the show. Too many times I see hosts make the show about them and it drags the show down.
Do your time up front: Do all your material up front. Try not to do lots of jokes between comics. This drags the show out and it goes back to the show not being about you. The only times I feel it's appropriate to do time between the comics is if the headliner asks you to do time or if the comic bombs you may need to try and win the crowd back, but keep them quick and witty.
Know your performers: As the host it's your job to know the credits of the performer and the correct pronunciation of their names. Don’t be afraid to ask the performers these questions. It will be more embarrassing if you mispronounce their name than just asking them how to do it. It will still happen from time to time.
Keep the show moving: If a show is going good, don’t do anything to slow it down like telling jokes between comics. If your joke bombs the show will lose its momentum and it can make it awkward for the next performer.
Keep it clean as you can: I’m not saying that you need to censor yourself, but one thing I’ve learned about comedy is that once a show goes dirty then the audience will want dirty. Weather a show is clean or dirty should really be left up to the headliner. Dirty can always follow clean, but clean can’t always follow dirty. The first performer (in most cases is the host) really drives the direction the show will go.