MC’S ARE NOT BORN, THEY ARE MADE! – Thoughts from Bo / by Bo Gerard

Masters of Ceremonies, (the correct plural form), are not naturally occurring beings.  They are forged, like steel, from different elements, and hammered by experience, to form this thing we call a Master of Ceremonies. (Hereinafter referred to as “MC”.)


No child has ever exclaimed, “I’m going to be an MC when I grow up!!”  And no normal person enters show business thinking that thought either. (Very few normal people enter show business, anyway)  It just sort of happens one day, when you realize that your natural gifts, your training and your life experiences have conspired together to transform you into the saviour of the dull, slow awards dinner - "MC MAN!"


I had some MC related experience while I was still doing theater in the 80’s, that probably helped.  I played the Ringmaster in the National Tour of the Tony Award Winning Broadway Musical, “Barnum”.  But when I gave up the theater, to pursue a career that could actually put some pennies in my piggy bank, I had no idea that MCing was in my future.


With me, as with many other performers, it happened naturally.  Maybe a client asks if you could  “make a few announcements before and after your show”, or you have to step in for someone at the last minute.  And a strange feeling comes over you, as you realize that you have stumbled upon a skill you did not know you even possessed.  "Hey!  look at me.  I'm MCing!!!"


But being an MC is not as easy as it looks.  You usually have to coordinate with the corporate party committee before the event, to learn what is going to be required of you.  And if they want you to do your show during the evening, you have to find a way to integrate it into their itinerary.  Many questions present themselves like, “What are the announcements and introductions that need to be made?”, “Will I have a script in hand or will I be reading from a prompter?”, “Will I have my own mic, or are the speakers and I passing it off?”, “What are the pronunciations of the names of the people I will be introducing?”, and many, many more.


And then, once you’re all set and ready to go, you have to be ready for anything, and everything, to go wrong. Like a video you just announced won’t play, or the next speaker you are about to intro is not in the room, or a mic is dead, or the power goes out, or a presenter jumps ahead in the script and changes the order of events, throwing you and the AV guys into a tizzy!  All of these and more, have happened to me while I was MCing, and you have to be able to cover, fill and improvise, if you want to keep the presentation from crashing and burning.

To paraphrase the Immortal Bard, “No men are born MCs, most either achieve MCing, or have MCing thrust upon them”.