The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #95092   Message #1847565
Posted By: MoorleyMan
01-Oct-06 - 11:55 AM
Thread Name: Compering/ MCing at a folk club
Subject: RE: Compering/ MCing at a folk club
Yeah I know there are several schools of thought here, and broadly speaking these depend largely on one's experience and one's expectations. But there's also many ways of killing the cat so to speak. Here's some thoughts.

It seems to be a widespread misconception that it's right for a club organiser to dictate to his MCs how to run an evening, but sometimes they have to take a firm line in order to stop things getting out of hand. However, some club organisers will take on the MC role initially by default but then use it as a ready excuse to take over the lion's share of the performing time: not a good move.

Certainly a good MC can make or break an evening. Though the MC's role is not as crucial with all clubs, due simply to the way they structure their activities. And at a festival, different skills are required for compering the big concert, or running a sequence of street entertainment, or introducing a "meet the artist" session.

In any case the job's not as easy as it appears. How very true.

Organisers please take note - not all booked performers make good MCs. Some are hopeless - and admit it themselves! Asking a booked artist to MC as well may appear an attractive cost-cutting gambit but it can so easily ruin the gig.

Even though many feel that the folk scene is traditionally the province of amateurs, here professionalism, however basic, is undoubtedly the key. And the unintentional faux-pas is just part of the game, an occupational hazard if you like.

I believe that if the job of MC/compere is to be done with any credibility, the person doing it needs the right attitude to the job - and the following qualities for a start:

(a) an inborn sense of time and structure, for (obvious though it may seem) keeping to time is vital;
(b) the ability to treat any or all performers, whether top-rank booked guest artist or humble floor singer, with due respect. Oh, and that includes the sound crew if any.
All non-audience personnel work together to make the evening a success, after all.
(c) the ability to treat his/her audience with due respect and consideration for their enjoyment - and safety;
(d) the right personality and degree of relaxed presence to keep the evening moving along naturally yet inexorably;
(e) to keep in mind the whole time the purpose of the evening and where appropriate set it in a wider context;
and (e) (and I suspect the most contentious, having read some of the above posts!) to have done some research and/or at least some degree of preparation (which will vary with the nature and identity of the artists who are due to perform). The MC's contribution can involve anything from a brisk but correct naming of personnel, to a more comprehensive but also succinct but at least knowledgeable biog/introduction, to a relevant reminiscence or anecdote, and yes, even to a specially written poem!
But it's very much horses for courses... all of these approaches, or any combination of them, can be valid, and very effective IN THE RIGHT HANDS. But careful thought must be given as to which is appropriate for any given occasion. Hence the need for the research. Catch 22 or wot?

Muppitz - good on ya, you seem to have landed on yr feet. I'll just add that my own regular excursions into the realm of compering,using whichever approach/es, have met with positive comments from both audience and organisers but particularly from artists I've introduced - which must be why I get asked back!

See y' around!