Karrell Fox column
Editor’s Note: Welcome to another installment from Karrell Fox on GMN. This month’s topic covers the world of emceeing. We’ve excerpted wisdom from his “Another Book,” printed by Supreme. Karrell’s no stranger to the world of masters of ceremonies. There’s so much material in this book, we’re dividing it into two segments. The second part runs next month.
****How about a big hand for … ****
Introduction to the introduction
About 25 years ago, my friend and manager, Bill O’Halloran remarked, “If you act as a master of ceremonies on shows as well as doing your act, I can book you on twice as many shows.” That’s all the incentive I needed. From that day on, I became a “magician of ceremonies.”
In addition to working short magical effects between the acts, I developed a series of prop introductions which I used to introduce each act. These “prop intros” have become a sort of trademark in my M.C. work and have served to make my work different than the usual “run of the mill” emcees.
Many of the emcee introductions are adaptable to tradeshow work. Instead of being used to introduce a person, they can be used to introduce various clients’ products. Most of them are easy to make up.
One more thought. I use the same props over and over for many shows, only the names changed. I accomplish this by buying a roll of adding machine paper tape at an office supply store. It is then a simple matter to cut strips of this tape to the size of the prop, letter the names on, using a thick crayon, magic marker, or better yet, some black showcard paint and a brush, then scotch tape the strips in place.
This way the prop will last you for quite a while. Mine last for two years, with constant use, before they have to be remade.
************ BANNER – BIT ************
The M.C. displays a cloth banner, black on both sides. He places a handful of paper dots on it and folds it in half. The banner is allowed to unfold and the dots spell out the name of the next act.
Make up a standard Good Night Banner. For the act’s name, get some stick-on dots at your local office supply store. They can be stuck on, yet they peel off easily so you can change the name whenever you wish.
************* NOVA CANE ************
Using the same stick-on dots mentioned earlier, fix up a 24-inch silk handkerchief with the act’s name on it and load it into your Russ Walsh Cane to Silk. Say, “Here’s an act that’s gonna come out here and really raise cane. Hold the cane up above your head as you say this. The cane then changes to the silk as you introduce the act.
************ HAND OF THE CALIPH ************
Abbott’s Magic Co. (Colon, Mich.) sells a prop called the Hand of the Caliph. Its usual use is to have five selected playing cards appear, one at each fingertip. It’s a “card-star” type arrangement and there are five spring clips that hold the cards and are released at one time, I’ve had one of these props for year and have gotten a lot of mileage out of it. I use Alphabet Cards. It’s amazing how many automobile names contain only five letters (Dodge, Chevy, Buick, etc.) therefore it’s my standby for most auto shows. “When you are shopping for a new car, here’s the name to have at your fingertips.” Then the letters appear. For a show, use the act’s name.
****WINDSOR/MC ATHY APPLAUSE CARD***
Tommy Windsor had a clever card on the market. You hold up a sign, it reads, “Applause Please.” You turn it over and on the back it says, “Thank You.” You then turn it over again and it says, “Both Of You.”
Make up one of these flap cards (same idea as good night banner mentioned earlier) side one says, “Introducing.” Side two reads, “The Fantastic” and side three has the name of the next act. Don’t forget, use adding machine tape so the sign can be re-used.
************ CODE – INTRO ************
M.C. holds up card covered with letters of the alphabet. “This next act is really a man of letters, he’s talented too. His name is here in code, but if we eliminate a few of letters, we end up with Ian Adair.”
Just show the sign, then take your crayon or marker and cross out the unwanted letters.
************ SIX-FOOT SURPRISE ************
Here’s one I’ve used a lot at sales meeting to introduce the president of the company or the main speaker. I walk on with a small table (or chair) and a top-hat which is mouth up on the chair or table. “Ladies and gentlemen, our next act is INSIDE my magic hat. You look like you don’t believe me. Here’s I’ll show you.” At this point, one of the women in the show or an audience member walks on to help you. You both take hold of the corners of a six-foot square silk and produce it from the hat. With the silk stretched out fully between the two of you, continue the intro as follows: “Allow me to introduce, the colorful personality of Mr. Tom Mullica.”
The silk is dropped to the floor and there stands the person you’ve introduced. I’ll admit, it’s not a great mystery, but it is a great intro and never fails to get a surprised gasp and a big hand. Naturally, when the silk is stretched out, it’s done so in front of the center-split of the house curtain and the speaker (or act) just sneaks out behind it and waits for the silk to fall in order to be revealed.
************ PUPPET – INTRO ************
The rabbit-in-hat puppet prop has always been a good effect. It’s just perfect also for use as an intro. Work your regular routine first. After the bunny has found the selected card, you say, “You found the card, now what?” The bunny signals for you to lean over so he can whisper in your ear. You say, “That’s right, it is time to introduce the next act, do you know who it is?” the bunny nods his head, yes, and brings up a little sign on a stick (use a pencil) with the act’s name printed on it.
************ ROPE – INTRO ************
Professor Charlie Cheer’s rope trick is one of my favorite emcee bits. For the benefit of those who may not know the effect, it begins with a piece of rope dangling out of your left sleeve. You pull on the rope and keep pulling until you have a pile of about 25 feet on the floor. At this point, the end gets stuck. You pull up your left trouser leg and there’s the end of rope. As you pull on this end, all of the rope goes back up your left sleeve as it’s pulled out of your left trouser leg. You start the pulling again and the pile of rope goes back up your left trouser leg and out of your right trouser leg. As the end finally comes into sight, a pair of gaudy mens’ shorts are fastened tot he end of it. The effect was marketed by my old buddy, Harold Martin, and is available from most dealers.
Now that the plug is over, here is my adaptation of it to use as an introduction. That first end of rope we talked about is tied around my finger. I say that I tied it there to remind me whom to introduce next. I untie the end and go through all three phases of the pulling. At the finish when the final end comes into view, there’s a large cardboard luggage tag fastened to it. The next act’s name is printed on it in large black letters.