Timing Really Is Everything

Thursday, January 13th, 2011 at 4:48 PM by   

RHPS Science Fiction Double FeatureRecently, I decided to do the time warp again and see the Rocky Horror Picture Show (RHPS) at The Retro Dome in San Jose. Now before you think I simply attend parties for rich weirdos, I still saw great movies like Airplane and Naked Gun in this same theatre. Oh, and who can forget the Willie Wonka & The Chocolate Factory with one of my favorite actors, Gene Wilder.

Many moons ago, when I was in high school, I was in theatre (theatrical lighting design to be exact), and would go with a group of friends to see RHPS on regular Saturday midnight showings at Camera One in San Jose. That’s where I was introduced to the audience participation element of the show. For those unfamiliar, this is where you interact with the movie by one of three means:

  • Saying certain lines at certain times during the movie
  • Throwing a variety of props during the movie
  • Being a shadow cast member that acts out the film on stage

It’s the first one that prompted me to write this post. It’s been nearly 13 years since I last saw the film in a theatre, so I had prepared myself to encounter new participation elements, specifically the lines spoken by the audience during the film. That’s when I was able to relate this experience to my own line of work as a wedding master of ceremonies.

In Peter Merry’s book, The Best Wedding Reception…Ever!, he says one of the roles a wedding Master of Ceremonies should have is keeping “the attention focused on [the bride and groom] instead of stealing the spotlight.”

I couldn’t agree more. And while several audience members were not the MC for the evening, they certainly had their way of stealing the spotlight. They would simply trample everyone else around them that would be speaking their generally accepted participation lines.  These individuals had their own, often extended, versions of the lines and would speak VERY LOUDLY to get them heard. Hearing one individual force his lines so much, it brought me to another part that many wedding industry greats have been preaching over the years: Polish.

Polished MicrophoneSure, anyone can speak scream the lines. But can that person deliver the lines?

I’ve been making announcements as a DJ since 1995. However, it wasn’t until just a few years ago that I learned what it means to really be a wedding master of ceremonies.  It’s more than the grand entrance of the wedding party or introducing the first dance. Anyone can do those things, but it’s how you do it that makes the difference.

Mark and Rebecca Ferrell lead a Master of Ceremonies workshop where they teach people how to rehearse and then rehearse again and again. Many of my closest colleagues have taken this workshop more than once.  Everyone that takes it realizes that they didn’t have a clue what they were doing in the past. I look forward to Mark and Rebecca returning to the San Francisco Bay Area for future workshops.

I’ll end on with a few notes. First, make sure that you take the time to meet with the individual that will be your MC and DJ the night of your wedding or event – Don’t just make the decision over the phone! If possible, see some raw footage of them performing (remember, it’s a “no-no” to ask to see them at another wedding). Second, ask the person you are meeting with what kind of training or education they have – then listen for things that make sense. Also see if they mention continuous education, such as Mobile Beat, ADJA, or Wedding MBA.