Musings on Amusing: A Host of Possibilities

A blogumn by Jessica Glassberg

This past Friday,  I hosted a benefit concert (featuring Peter Daily and Tatem Jones) for the play “Razorback” at the Rogue Machine Theater on Pico.

I had a simply swell time.

The reps from the theater genuinely seemed happy to have me MC and the audience was enthusiastic and  encouraging.

The crowd was clearly there to see the bands, but seemed to enjoy my monkey dance as well.

And it got me thinking…why don’t I host more often?

In the 9+ years I’ve been performing standup, I’ve only hosted about a handful of shows.

Not for lack of wanting to… but maybe ability…

Out here in LA, hosts usually organize and book their shows. And since I don’t run my own show… I haven’t really had many opportunities to MC.

A lot of my fellow comics look down on the position of hosting as a burden. But, when you think about it…who does the audience remember? The Headliner and the MC…the two performers with the most stage time.

And I know I’ve been plugging away at this to eventually be noticed by more than the people who ask to be removed from my comedy update emails (this daily dose of self deprecation has been brought to you by the letters J & G and the number 2…don’t even think enough to make myself number 1).

On a marathon show of  10+ comics, most comedians don’t want to take the “bullet” – the first spot after the MC.

But with a good MC getting the comedy train moving, the spot becomes quite a cushioned position. The audience should be warmed and ready to continue laughing…but often, this doesn’t happen.


MCs can truly make or break a show…they set the tone and they stand before a cold crowd who are preoccupied with ordering their next MGD or appletini. And there’s plenty of responsibility that comes with the position that oft times get ignored….

It’s up to the MC to keep the energy going throughout the show,  make any necessary announcements, remember the other comics’ intros, especially their names (I’ve frequently been introed as various J-first names followed by G-Jewish last names. No, I’m not Judy Goldsmith, Jennifer Greenberg nor Joyce Goldfarb but have been called to stage as all of them.)  They also need to keep potential hecklers in line, quiet or have them removed if necessary.

If a comic takes the stage and bombs, it’s the MC’s job to undo the damage and re-ready the crowd to laugh for the next guy.

Far too frequently though, the MC phones in their performance and ignores their responsibilities. You’ll see the MC trying to save face and say they want to, “keep the show moving,” so that they won’t have to perform for  a crowd that has turned for the worse…leaving the next comic to pick of the pieces.

If there are any bullets to be had, they should  be taken by the MC, straight to the funny bone. The host is there to make the rest of the comics look good.

Good MCs check their pride at the door — quite the task to ask a comic who measures their self worth in the laughter of strangers.

Although the job is difficult and exhausting, I’d love more opportunities to get to know my fellow comics, suck in my pride and keep the train on the tracks.


Want more? Check out this podcast featuring Jessica Glassberg:

The podcast is based on a column written by Joe called,

“Viva la Wah – Why is Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin so sad?”