I've often been asked in dojo sessions if I could go over some how to's of MCing a gig. So, here are the basics of MCing. Of course according to the particular venue it may change but this is a good rule of thumb on how to.
Before you go on stage Mr/Ms MC.... think of yourself as the show producer, you are to know more about the show than anybody. How do you do this? First remember that MCing is about flow! Your job is to see that the show flows from you to the feature then onto the headliner and then you saying goodnight after the headliner is finished. (and for god sakes don't do materiall after the headliner is done....just close the show with a big smile and big thank you to the audience). MCing is part cheer leading ...get each act an extended round of applause...it's simple courtesy to do so.
1. Show up early. Bring a little notebook and pen be ready to jot down some info. Talk to venue mgr/owner about how much time you will have to open the show. (usually 10mins)
At that time ask if there are any announcements you need to do. (Remember any announcement time comes off your 10mins)- don't go over your time ever. A good investment is a watch that has a stop watch function. Learn to use it.
IMPORTANT: Greet the acts that you will be introducing and get their intros down. Most comedians prefer a certain intro or they will relay other important information and it is your job to get it down in that little notebook you brought to write all this stuff down in! (Whatever you do don't read an intro on stage. Do the best you can to memorize each act's credits so that you flow into their introductions in a professional manner.
Talk to room mgr or sound person about start and ending times of show and be ready when they are. Always be in the comedy room well ahead of each act's closing bit.
Never leave the stage empty!!!...when an act says goodnight get to the stage immediately to shake his/her hand and get them another round of applause.
When on stage for your time remember that it's only part material and some quick thinking that will be necessary to continue the flow of the show. You must be focused and in the moment!
Yes it's your job to do some material to get the audience settled into the listening mode however before that you are going to have to welcome and deal with a settling crowd.
You may at that time thank them for showing up and let them know they are about to experience a great show etc etc.
You might ask if there are any people celebrating birthdays, anniversaries etc. You may have a few respond and so handle it nicely by wishing them the best or making a funny reference (keeping it cute and nice)... etc. If there are bachelorette parties please don't overdo talking to them you're just making it harder for the other comedians.
Work a few minutes of material in to help condition the audience into listening to material and watching a show. :)
Intro first act and get them applause...remember their credits first and then the last thing you say in the intro is their name....greet them and then get off stage. (always know how much time each act is doing so you know to be ready to bring them off stage).
Now is the time to make sure what is to go on between acts. Does headliner want you to do material between feature and him/her? Ask!!!! If yes then prepare only a couple of minutes...and stick to the time.
Get the headliner's intro correct and get him on stage.
After headliner's show...close with thank you's to the headliner and the audience etc and say goodnight. or whatever closing the venue may have.
Congrats you've just mc'd your first comedy show. Now there are a million more things to learn but this has been part it.
Break a leg!