Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Art of Emceeing part 3 - Being vs Doing

In my last post I talked about wrapping the show in fun, focussing on what is happening in the room and the show, and working the audience to create a supportive atmosphere. 
And that it is not what you do, so much as what you bring to what you do, that is the clincher.
I'm going out on a limb to say that what is really needed is YIN energy. The gentler energy that is still fun and full on but there's no competitiveness, the humour is facetious and playful and engaging, not aggressive and oppositional. This is not about the gender of the Emcee, by the way - but about their energy. 
I say this because this energy does not compete with the performances. if I seem to be making this point quite a bit, it's because it is SO important. And yang energy, with its misogynistic jokes and male gaze just channels the audience into seeing the performers as something to ogle at, no magic, no glitter. Objectifying. Centuries of a culture where men look at women and judge them, against 20 or so years of Burlesque where performers have real agency and call the shots* - we NEED to pro-actively work this new space, and it's hard; but it is so worth it. I'd also say that while women get away with saying things that men can't, it's still not gender specific.
Now I am saying this but some people will say, "Oh but X is so FUNNY and audiences love them!" the value of X being an Emcee who relies on the yang energy to get through. 
To them I say this. Go out at the interval or after the show and talk to the audience. You will find that you get two types of responses. The feminists may be seething with frustration as they can see what is going on and they've been trying to hold a different space. Others are often likely to say, "Oh, that X is hilarious!" and if you ask them how they are enjoying the acts, don't be surprised if they are polite but less enthusiastic, unless an act is high energy with a big punchline delivered. The approach and energy of the Emcee casts a glamour over them and if that glamour has the audience looking at the show in a judgy, objectifying way, this is not good!
But enough about X. I've only gone into what I feel does not work in order to help define what DOES work. Next post I will focus on detailing the positives more!
Curtain call of our Caburlesque Weird and Quirky show. It sure was!!

*I say the last 20 years knowing that the 20th Century has so many heroines and legends of Burlesque that were claiming the stage well before the 90s. But in the last 20 years the audiences for Burlesque have become predominantly women.

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