I'm reaching out to Hosts and Emcees. Two slightly different terms for people with similar goals.
  •  "Host" is usually a name that is bestowed on a member of a house group. The Host is usually a short-form device. All of their functions fall within a single show or scene - They introduce the game(s), often keep score, set time limits, solicit suggestions from the audience, etc.
  • Emcee is someone who acts as the through-line for a series of sets. There might be several groups performing, but the emcee is always onstage before and after each set. Usually the Emcee appears in long-form settings, but that is not necessarily so.
  • Lights and Sound are more obvious, but do a lot to frame what is going on. Often it's a single person serving both roles - an amazingly difficult chore, I might add. (SOMETIMES, the lights/sound-person is ALSO the Host/Emcee... acting as the unseen voice from offstage via microphone. That is impressive. Have I seen it done? No. But If I wanted to run an improv club and make it economically feasible, I would be training people to do that craft.)
  • Since the terms Host and Emcee are used somewhat interchangeably and the goal of Lights and Sound are usually in allignment. Will you permit me to lump them all in the same category for now? I'll call them, collectively, Ringleaders.
Ringleaders do whatever they can to enhance the audience's enjoyment of the performance.

Let's state the obvious: knowing the shows is important. It helps for several reasons. Among them: is educating the audience, understanding the needs of the performers, and enhancing the timing. And you cannot do that blind.

My Host training went like this when I was with Theater Sports.
  1. Perform a number of shows.
  2. Get nominated by the artistic director to be considered to be a Host.
  3. Go through a series of training rehearsals.
  4. Prove memorization of essential, scripted pieces - including game descriptions, introductions, ask-fors, etc.
  5. Dry-run the introduction to a show about a few times to the satisfaction of the artistic director.
  6. Dry-run a test-show in actual rehearsal for the rest of the players.

The fifth and sixth steps were the hardest and we'll talk about them more in blogs to follow, but I want to talk about number one now.

Perform a number of shows.

How many? Enough. Enough to what? To demonstrate three essential things:
  • Understanding of what ensembles are trying to accomplish:
  • Understanding what the audience needs and meeting those needs
  • Essential, technical presentational skills.
I will discuss these more in the future. But can we agree a person can have some or most of these, but the absence of one is painful? I think we can because we've all been in grade school and have watched talent shows, show-and-tell demonstrations, and other awkward moments where the speaker did one of the following: failed to understand the goal of the project; was out-of-tune with the audience; or was SOOOO BAAAAAAD at speaking in front of people that you vomited in your shoe. Figuratively speaking.

Okay... so we agree. Thanks.