Column, Opinions

Emcee Duo Available: Serious Inquiries Only

One of my good friends, Thomas, and I have a running joke that before we graduate, we must emcee at a campus production. The joke began during sophomore year after we attended our friend’s dance show and determined the show’s emcees delivered a less-than-stellar performance. 

In between dazzling dance numbers, the emcees awkwardly shuffled on stage, read off their phones like a kid being forced to read a letter from the Corinthians at family mass, and then shuffled back behind the curtain before the dancers reclaimed the stage. Surely, surely, we could do better, we thought. What’s life without a little pizzazz? A little risk? 

As more time passed and more performances were attended, we only became more convinced that we’d make great emcees. At first, we had our sights set on a huge debut like Showdown, but we figured we should probably leave that to the people who actually help organize the competition (selfless, I know). 

But with unwavering conviction, we continued to believe in our ability to absolutely crush it as an emcee duo. “We’re so personable! And funny! And we love to talk! What could be better than the opportunity to grandstand for one-minute intervals before introducing our amazing classmates?” And so the joke continued to grow. 

Of course, part of the joke is that we sound like a group of guys that one day declares, “Bro, we should start a podcast!” In the past three (and a half) years, we’ve spent way too much time creating ridiculous hypothetical skits and drafting material for when we finally make our big break. At one point, we even considered creating flyers to offer our services, sporting all the inexperience and overconfidence of freshly licensed high schoolers driving their parent’s car. 

Still, there is a real-life component to our gilded emcee dreams. During my senior year of high school, I was asked to co-emcee a dance show. Feeling bad that only one other person had volunteered, I agreed. Ironically, in high school, I spent a lot of time overthinking every word I said and struggling to find even a shred of self-confidence in the person I was becoming. I really couldn’t think of anything I’d rather do less than emcee in front of a crowd of people.

When the performance day finally came I was a ball of nerves, and right as I was about to take the stage, I was informed that my co-emcee had bailed at the last minute. So here I was, mic-ed up, with all these dance teams waiting for me to find the courage to help the show go on. 

I stepped out in front of the crowd and froze. The notes in my hand shook, and the entire audience of parents, uninterested siblings, and teachers stared back at me. If you’ve ever had to give a speech, present a project, or speak publicly in any way, you know that when you’re up there, and it’s total silence, it’s anything but silence in your head. It’s this high-pitched buzzing noise that keeps getting louder and louder until you either pass out or start talking. I chose the latter.

I figured just about anything had to be better than nothing, so I ditched the notes, introduced myself, and then got rolling. Turns out, I have what some like to call “the gift of gab” (or yap, for those chronically online), and when you’re trying to kill time in a semi-entertaining way, the gab rules all.

Once I got over the initial stage fright I had a total blast—in fact, I probably had more fun than anyone in that auditorium that night. At one point, I had to stay up longer than anticipated so I started doing the Macarena and encouraging those in the crowd to join me for a “wedding classic.” Honestly, I couldn’t tell you if anyone in the audience even bothered to participate—I was too busy jumping around the stage and swiveling my hips. All I knew was that I finally had proof of the confidence I was hiding within me. 

To be transparent, emceeing is much more difficult than it may seem, but isn’t that what life is all about? Yes, when I first stepped on that stage, I wanted to disappear, but if I hadn’t pushed myself, I never would have realized how capable of a public speaker I am. Even your worst nightmares can become your most wonderful memories. 

If I’m being completely honest, sometimes I still get nervous before an important presentation or speech. Still, that night was a crucial moment for me—a lesson in both self-confidence and humility.

Unfortunately, to the dismay of many future fans, my emcee career began and ended on the same night. Stardom is a fickle thing, and with our senior year winding down, I don’t think a last-minute emcee opportunity was ever in the cards for Thomas and me.

But that’s okay! Oftentimes, your next challenge isn’t one that you’re actively looking forward to or hanging up flyers in search of. It’s the things that you really, really don’t want to do that you stand to gain the most from.

The above column holding true, if you have an emcee opportunity for two somewhat qualified and extremely enthusiastic students, I implore you to reach out to me by email. 

April 8, 2024