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Recordings and Contracts

Should you allow your set to be recorded as an event emcee?


Sometimes the entire event is recorded, usually it’s for internal purposes, and sometimes it’s to be live streamed online. You should get a contract detailing why it’s being recorded and what it will be used for. As the MC, you should think carefully about whether you want to sign the contract for the recording. Once signed, you often have no rights about where the recording can be distributed or what it can be used for.


If you are doing jokes as the host, and it’s being recorded, keep in mind the audience will likely not be mic’d. An audience often has to have microphones hanging above them to capture their laughter. Then that sound has to be put into the final mix of the recording. It’s a complex audio production procedure sometimes.


If their laughter is not properly mic’d it will sound like you as the host have gotten no laughter. Laughter benefits as a social and group activity. That’s why comedy shows are not very fun when there are say, two or three, people in the audience. No event is going to feel funny that way.


But if laughter is not mic’d properly, then there might as well be no audience. Your jokes will just disappear into a void.


If you are not doing humor of any kind in your MC set, then it is much less relevant. Although capturing the sounds of applause can also add important ambiance to a recording as well.


Just understand as the host what the implications are of being recorded, and having the recording being distributed.


Being the emcee at a virtual event


Virtual events have not gone away. Many organizations have realized it’s an easier and cheaper way to have a meeting, seminar, or celebration of some type. It can take less preparation than an in-person event but still more than you would think.


The equipment you need as the MC can vary greatly, but generally you want a good background that is solid and not distracting. A virtual background can work but if you move a lot that will often become blurry, rendering it useless.


A microphone can be used as a prop to make it feel more like a live event but is not necessary. Some hosts prefer a wired headset that goes into their laptop and claim that gives them better sound. You should have a wired headset on hand just in case the audience isn’t hearing you well without one. The computer’s built-in microphone does not always pick up your voice well enough.


Getting laughs on a virtual show is much tougher. Laughter is a group event and when bodies are close together in an actual physical space that’s when it will flourish the most. As the host, your jokes will have to be even smarter and crisper to work in this environment.


Many times the company or organization will mute all the audience members to drown out any background noise. This is a double edge sword. Their laughter will become non-existent. If your MC set doesn’t require any laughs then it’s probably a better way to go – if not, you must have everyone unmuted. Even better is to have a moderator who can mute anyone on a moment’s notice who is making too much noise and leave everyone else unmuted.


Signing contracts as an MC


If you have a show coming up it’s a great idea for your agent, or yourself, to have a contract signed. The gig shouldn’t be considered confirmed until that happens.


A contract should have all the stipulations you want and need as the host. It should of course include how much you are being paid, and whether or not you require a deposit. Many hosts require a fifty percent deposit as soon as the contract is signed. Nowadays, electronic payment is often easy and is beneficial to both parties.


If the balance is being paid to you at the event, you should know who is responsible for bringing that to you and in what form that payment will be. Many times the night of the show is hectic – for everyone ­– the company, the employees, the staff, and the master of ceremonies. It’s best to know when exactly you’ll be paid that night and by whom. Getting paid right when you arrive at the venue usually makes the most sense.


Contracts can be incredibly complex which is why many hosts have their agent handle them or have an attorney draft a basic one, and then they re-work that for each gig. But many companies will counter with their own changes or additions the more complex you make your own contract. So it can be a Catch-22. MC work is like any other job – make sure you are protected in the event of show cancellation, late payment, etc.


Hosting with visual aids as part of your presentation


Slides can add a lot of texture, and rhythm, to your MC set. And they’re great for times when the audience is tired or having difficulty focusing. They can be very labor intensive especially for people who aren’t particularly adept at PowerPoint or Canva, or other programs. Usually the equipment required for slides is provided for you by the event coordinators, but some emcees have their own setup they travel with.


An MC with fast moving and well prepared slides can add a whole new dimension of comedy if that’s one of the angles you’re going for. The company you’re working for can even provide photos of the employees that can provide great fodder for jokes.


It’s still important for the MC to have backup material in case of equipment malfunction. I’ve seen that happen more than once. Sometimes even one or two slides can make a presentation really pop, or make it come to a nice crescendo.


A host has unlimited creativity and shouldn’t be afraid to ever think outside the box, as long as those creative chances have been proven successful ahead of important gigs.

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