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How to Emcee a Talent Show

Talent festival
accesser/flickr.com; hughjackman/flickr.com

Because talent shows are often amateur productions, and the acts not always as entertaining as expected, the emcee or host becomes very important to the show's success. Not only is it the emcee's job to introduce each act, but he also keeps an eye on the audience's reaction and tries to spice things up if necessary. He is also responsible for keeping an eye on the time and even tactfully helping out an act who has frozen on stage. Read on to learn how to do all of the above with style and have the crowd eating out of your hand!

Do your preparation. If there are announcements to be made before the show, familiarize yourself with the list so that you can briefly reel them off before the show instead of reading and sounding like a robot.

If you don't know the acts, ask them to give you a maximum of three things that you can use for their introductions. Find out if they'll allow you to spice up the intros with funny anecdotes they might reveal about themselves. Be sure you know the proper pronunciation of the act names and that your own material is memorized so that you can really sell it and keep the energy up.

Take a cue from Hugh Jackman at the Oscars and open the show with your own showstopping number. If you are sure your number will be fantastic then go for it! This will set a positive tone for the night and put the audience in a fabulous mood, making them more receptive to the rest of the acts,

Segue from the thunderous applause of your opening number to the introduction of your first act. If you are naturally funny then be funny, if no--no worries, just be yourself. Things are bound to come up that are funny anyway. Try to personalize your jokes without insulting anyone. This will ensure that those in the crowd who know the performers will feel included and will enhance their enjoyment of the show because they will feel "in on" the joke.

Be prepared to fill time. A performer may not make a costume change, or simply get stage fright. In any case, use the time to interact with the audience. Knowing the crowd will help. If all else fails, ask if anyone is celebrating an anniversary. Congratulate the couple, and segue into finding the couple who has been married the longest. Ask them for advice, or make your own jokes about marriage. You can also use these bits if a performer has frozen on stage.

Seize opportunities for humor. Every live show inadvertently has unexpected moments, most of which can be used for improvised jokes if you pay attention. A baby in the audience that will not stop crying, or an extremely loud ambulance heard echoing throughout the theater, even an audience member getting up to use the bathroom while you are emceeing are all gifts. Use them for fodder and stay alert!

Have fun and stay calm. Breathe and just remember if you are having fun, the audience will be having fun. Your mood will be contagious. Remember too that when things go wrong, they are not really going wrong, they are providing you with funny material! With that mindset you should have no worries. Keep loose!


  • Avoid jokes at the expense of the acts. They are under enough pressure.
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