So I got my first hosting gigs ever. One is a private party for about 30 people, it's just me. The other I'll be hosting a monthly comedy night.
Got any tips?
You are the master of ceremonies. Get the people amped up. Nothing too crazy. Just be excited. And PLEASE do not do too much time between the comics.
"You're a ghost!"- Tom Scharpling
I always do 10 to start up, then if there is a joke between comics that's fine, but really just keep the show moving along.
It's a little thing and it should be obvious, but just in case, keep the mic and the stand planted between sets. If someone hands you the mic when they're finished, return it to the stand and return the stand to its default position (usually mid-stage, towards the front).
Hey, check me out. I'm a ghost.
I think it'd be fine to do a super-quick one-liner, or a small quip, something relevant and funny between each comic. Just be quick, both to think of something funny to say and to get the next comedian on-stage.
When my friend hosted our comedy show, he did maybe a minute-long joke between each comic and that was fine. Sometimes he didn't even bother and just immediately introduced the next guy. As long as your quick, it should be good.
Cool. So somewhere between zero and very short between each set. Maybe 10 mins at the beginning, and yes there is an intermission, so I'll do maybe 5 after break.
How about working the crowd? This club is quite small, 60-70 seats, the stage is smack up against the front row, so the comic really is really part of the audience. I have zero crowd work experience, is it a good time to try it out?
as the mc keep the crowd work positive because if you screw up you have to keep going back up there.
I wish you a lot of luck, Phillips.
Garrett Gonzalez Morris (born February 1, 1937) is an American comedian and actor from New Orleans, Louisiana. He was part of the original cast of the sketch comedy program Saturday Night Live, appearing from 1975 to 1980
For the British flautist, see Gareth Morris.
2 hours is pretty long; i'd try to get it closer to 1.5. That's about 15 minutes per comic. And that way you wouldn't have to have a (possibly momentum-killing) intermission.
So I did the first of my two hosting gigs last night.
The first was this very small workplace party I hosted for a friend's sister. About 20 people in an office, she found a mic+speaker that worked well and there was even a little platform we used as a stage.
I got my friend's sister on the stage and kind interviewed her, with each question being kinda a setup for my next bit, then I'd go back to interviewing her or interacting with the audience. With just 20 people in the room, none of whom could be comedy fans, I felt it would have been awkward if I would have just got up there and just did my alt-comedy act.
I think I did like 20 minutes, it went quite well I guess. I didn't know what to expect at all. People were laughing, a couple of more sophisticated jokes for alt-comedy fans didn't work that well (duh). My interaction with her and the audience got good laughs. But everyone was in good spirits and seemed to have fun and my friend and her sis loved it and I left the place feeling okay about my performance.
Thanks for everyone's advice in the thread! My next hosting gig, where I'll be MC'ing a monthly comedy night, is in a couple weeks...
I personally LOVE hosting. YOU are the Master of ceremonies. If you can start by being warm AND funny for 10-15 minutes, they're yours, IF you keep them warm. Do something to get them to react as a group soon after you hit the stage. This allows them to see that they all had the same reaction. So, then, they are less concerned about what other people are thinking. They'll be more relaxed. Try to do material THEY will find pertinent to the situation. Relative Humor. Between the acts do as little time as possible. Unless someone really eats it. THEN pump them back up. Doing a joke/bit about whatever the last person closed with will help to keep it flowing. Even making a funny comment about how much you loved the last guy's car joke will help tie into the positive energy. Mostly, be yourself and have fun.
Well I did my first hosting gig last night, I think it went well and I had a lot of fun!
I kept it super positive throughout the entire night, being really excited about each upcoming comic and having nice words to say about them afterwards, I think energy was passed on to the crowd which was good.
I was more high-energy/faster than my normal qwirky/slower self, but that was necessary for the hosting job.
I did about 15 at the beginning, then 7 after intermission. In between each act I did this running gag where I updated the audience of the Finland-USA hockey game (it was going on during the show, hockey is a big deal here in Finland). People enjoyed the fake updates.
I had it easy though, all six comics did very well, I never had to dig the show out of a hole.
Thanks so much to everyone for all your advice!!!
To simplify -- the role of the host is to build the fourth wall.
In your ten minutes (or whatever), you need to get that audience sitting down, not talking, and listening to what the people with the microphones are going to say. You need to take command of the stage. If you can get laughs in the process, great. It certainly helps you do your job. But it's NOT your job. I've seen great hosts who got very few laughs, and hosts who got laughs but did nothing to establish the show. I'm sure you have too.
Maybe this is my bias in favor of comics who do material talking, but I'd recommend doing material. Obviously, you have to do your little "welcome to the show" speech up front, and you may need to announce some drink specials or something, but think -- what is your job? Your job is to have the entire audience thinking, "all right, we're in the audience, and these people on the stage are going to tell jokes, and we're going to laugh at them." There's no better or easier way to demonstrate that concept than to tell jokes. Funny ones, preferably.
I'd avoid crowd work, unless you're really sure you can command the audience while doing it. It tends to break the fourth wall... nothing worse than people thinking they're involved with the show, and then you introduce the next act, and hey, why's this guy doing material?
Other than that? Keep the tempo up, keep the crowd's mood high, and keep YOUR mood high. It's always important to give the crowd the impression that you're enjoying performing for them, but it's absolutely crucial for the host.
Erik Charles Nielsen is a moderately funny fellow... right?
Even if you're very good and can keep your crowd work from derailing the show, there's also the practical consideration that - if you're hosting a traditional opener/feature/headliner format - the headliner has the most time to kill (and is probably the most tired of their own material) and thus has the most need to do crowd work. I think, as a professional courtesy, you should leave the crowd work to the acts with more time to eat up.