How to Host an Improv Show


The lights come up, there is music playing, you are sitting in your comfy theater seat and waiting for something to happen. Who is the next person you see? The MC. The emcee. The Master of Ceremonies.The host of the evening.

The emcee is like the host of a party and the theater is their house.

For me emceeing in two simple rules that cover almost everything.

The two underlying rules of emceeing

  1. Help the audience enjoy the show.
  2. You are not the focus.

Emceeing a show? Here are some guidelines that might help

  • take your time and be calm (or present being calm)
  • fill in the setup for the games if the players miss pieces, so the audience knows what to do
  • keep the stage warm/hot - fill in big spaces during transitions when the energy drops, so the audience knows what to look at
  • there is no need to "cap" each scene, or add your own jokes or comments on what we just saw
  • you can help the show by calling lights to "save" scenes
  • if things go wonky, you can help by being lighthearted and adding what is needed or just acknowledge it
  • step on the tail of the applause with the next action
  • in Theatersports jump on getting the scores and announcing the challenges
  • in Freestyle or Micetro jump on calling out the next players
  • in  Theatersports you can make emcee challenges to help with shape of show
  • help facilitate the "schtick" for players/teams in costume but also help contain it (the balance is easier from offstage)
  • add enthusiasm to the show with good presence on your emcee duties
  • being shy drains the energy
  • being gaggy or "funny" will bleed energy and distract the show
  • keep the pace of the show, move things along

That's my take on it - what is yours?

What do you think - What makes a good emcee?

Leave your comments below, we want to know!