Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Art of Emceeing part 4- Working in character

Creating a character for a themed show really helps to support the theme and weave that magic. Sadie and I are lucky in that we take turns emceeing the bi-monthly show Caburlesque, which always has a theme.
I love character work so much sometimes I get carried away and do several. From Caburlesque -The British are Coming - four iconic British characters in one night. It was fun!!! And they have all come in handy over the years so it was worth it!
Characters work well if you feel you need a bit of structure and performance to feel comfortable in front of people. I tend to just busk it myself, but that's how I roll. Sadie is much more structured while also being completely spontaneous when needed. It's quite a a combo let me tell you!

It's also a great way to find out what works. We did a tribute to Tim Burton and my first half character was Mrs Lovett from Sweeney Todd, my second half was The Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland.
Mrs L and Mad Hatter. It was a busy interval changing this lot up!
Mrs Lovett is a strong character with lots of back bone and easily led the show along. The Mad Hatter however, with his lispy voice and sweet smile, was actually really hard to steer. We did do a fun act at the end which has since become of my most requested acts, but for Emceeing, not so good.
Early on in my "career" as an Emcee I did a masterclass with Dusty Limits, who to me is the last word in awesomeness, and he asserts that only "alpha" characters make good Emcees. There's always an exception, but I can honestly say that an assertive, even stroppy character, provides stronger leadership to the show.
It's still important for the character to respect the energy and space of the show - a character who is a creep is still a creep, you know? Abusing the audience as a character is no more entertaining to the audience than an abusive person NOT in character.
Character is simply not an excuse to behave badly. Misogyny, audience baiting or mocking or abusing or insulting, throwing performers under the bus - is NEVER ok.
Absolutely have fun with the audience, tease them a bit, all in the name of a bit of fun, even a bit barbed and spicey is ok. But you need to read the audience and if it goes too far; come back.

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