“You are a really good on stage, I loved you as an MC, maybe one day you could even do comedy” the blonde girl in the silver top shouted at me as the disco banged out its cheesy tunes in Leeds Jongleurs Comedy Club.
That is the best compliment I could ever receive as comedy club host.
A comedy MC is someone who holds the gig together, someone who chats to the audience in between comics hitting the stage. This is the person who sets the tone and gets the room ready for the big event.
A funny fluffer…if you will! Rubbing the audience into a height of comedy readiness, the foreplay of fun.
The MC is not supposed to be the big hitter of jokes on the night, people should be happy to hear them talk, but equally anticipating the arrival of the comic coming on stage. No MC worth their wages should eat the show, bask in the headlights or try to out-do the big name coming on; the MC is a scene setter – not scene stealer.
The MC can also be the front line defence on the coal face of live comedy.
Christmas parties full of reluctant comedy goers are the biggest trial for a good MC; I know this as last year I spent a whole Christmas week as MC at Leeds Jongleurs. Trying hard to get the large group of men from Barstock’s Garage to shut up and pay attention to the stage, whilst they shout ‘Show us your tits’ can be a hard slog.
Knowing that the comics are sitting watching the crowd, hoping you can educate that audience in the art of listening within ten minutes can be nerve wracking but really rewarding when you get the heaving mob to sit back and relax.
In the event of an aggressive rowdy audience, you are sent out as the scout, it’s your impression on them and your consequential conquering of the ensuing enemy that will secure the safe passage of the acts that grace the stage.
Being defensive and shouty doesn’t always work; it can serve to aggrieve the men who are not used to a woman speaking out loudly. Though a good funny put down followed by some witty charm directed at the growlers usually works.
I know this from my past life as a pub landlady. When a huge gang of antagonistic men descended on my bar, I always made it my point to find the ‘leader’ and recognise his management qualities.
I would make sure he knew that I was aware of his influence over ‘his men’ and played on the power conflict within that dynamic. Basically if he couldn’t contain his troops, then he was a weak man and I would make sure that the watching public were aware of his flaws. Men also assert themselves quicker when you relate to them as female figure in their lives. Emotionally remind of them of their mother, sister or daughter and the mood can change…usually for the better.
The same applies with mixed groups and females who seem to be getting out of hand.
Mutual respect and acknowledgement of status can level most playing fields; undermining people will always serve to fan the flames of anger.
And to think we all thought it was just talking for money?_