Recently, my intern attended a wedding where a quarrel broke out between a guest and the comedian MC. The quarrel ensued because the MC, in the process of cracking jokes made snide remarks at the lady and her make up. The lady felt embarrassed, and instead of a proper apology, the MC replied insensitively saying “it is a joke na”. Someone reading this must have experienced similar.
In the quest of making guests enjoy their stay at events, some hosts have naively employed untrained comedians in the place of a professional Masters of Ceremonies to anchor/host their events. Today, a typical Nigerian wedding ceremony has become “a day of thousand laughs”. This act on several occasions has completely eliminated the supposed etiquette, protocol or what we call the dos and the don’ts of a professional MC. This menace has reduced events and ceremonies to a setting where people come in, laugh at jokes – sometimes half-heartedly or laced with irritation, eat and depart. They go home not knowing either the full name of the host, the special guests or worse still, the objective of the event.
The title ‘Master of Ceremonies’ has indeed suffered dearly in the hands of “untrained “comedians. I say ‘untrained’ because there are a few distinguished comedians and comediennes, who have taken out time to get up to speed with best practices, some of which are outlined below.
In the preparation for an event, first and foremost, the MC should carry out a client analysis, which includes, getting to know the client, their expectations, concerns, personal or organisational objectives, peeves and proclivities.
An event analysis should follow next, and it includes, finding out the history of the event, its theme, objectives, possible challenges and solutions, event structure, speakers, protocol and more.
The MC should then carry out an audience analysis and expectation survey. This involves considering the age, sex, religion, educational background, competence and biases of the expected guests. We must consider also, their expectations, experiences and realities.
This will give room for the MC to practise more, familiarise and prepare properly.
After the preparation, the execution/performance on the D-day crowns the efforts.
As the MC, it is best practice to arrive the venue 30 minutes minimum before the time of the event – it’s safest an hour ahead.
Do well to affirm yourself before the arrival of the guests – say to yourself truths like ‘it will go well”, ‘I am confident and prepared’, ‘I am excellent at my job”. While affirming yourself, breathe deeply. These go a long way in calming fraying nerves and helping the MC become mentally stable.
Familiarise with the sound engineers and the event planner. Practise pronunciation of names of dignitaries, sitting arrangements, availability of ushers, biographies of speakers, re-confirm alloted time for speakers, breaks if any, availability of refreshments, position of exits, restrooms and muster point – in the event that you need to give a safety briefing.
Someone may say, all these for the MC?
Yes please, we are not called MASTER for nought.
Please understand me, the comedian does have his role, a significant role at that in the uplifting of people’s moods and spirits, when APPROPRIATE material is used, not insults, derogatory comments and bias-sensitive jokes.
I strongly recommend to clients who insist on having a comedian – especially one that is not trained as an MC – to allot time on the programme of events for stand-up comedy and leave it at that. This way, they have a professional MC on duty and get high on laughter at the appropriate time.
No mincing words, comedians are NOT MCs.
For the comedian to become a fully qualified MC, fit to stand before any audience, irrespective of socio-economic strata, he/she MUST be trained.
I recommend TALKADEMY – Africa’s Premier Training School for Masters of Ceremonies, in three years, we have trained almost a hundred individuals, some of whom now have full-time thriving careers in event hosting, and some with robust part-time event hosting careers, with lots of testimonials from satisfied clients.
TALKADEMY’s core areas of training are:
– Vision: Know exactly where you’re going.
– Elocution: Speaking right.
– Dynamics of MCing: The crux of the profession.
– The Business of MCing: How to make money.
– Nation Building: Every profession and professional should better it’s/his/her country.
TALKADEMY classes are available at talkademy.joycedaniels.net
Remember, comedians are only good/great MCs when trained.
Until then, let the mastering of ceremonies be left to MASTERS.