A Master of Ceremonies is called by a couple of names: an emcee, MC, person with the mic. How did this become an official position though? Buckle up, we’re going back in time and tracing the history of the MC for this week’s blog.
Before we look at ancient MCs, the contemporary MC should be defined. Our Masters of Ceremonies are people who keep the time during events. They keep things moving so that one person doesn’t keep the crowd hostage when the bride and groom are trying to start their first dance, so to speak. MCs are not generally trained, but they can be. All of the Famous DJs are trained how to MC so that their professionalism never falters.
While we tend to use a Master of Ceremonies for parties or grand scale events, the origins of the MC actually have a religious grounding.
The first time we see the title “Master of Ceremonies” is in the 17th Century. It was mentioned in a Catholic ceremony of bishops. Prior to this, there were directors within ceremonies, but they were not given a specific title yet.
In the 7th Century, the position of a director was quite explicit. This person was in charge of liturgical functions. This meant that they had to guide ministers before and during the functions. The first documented directors (or MCs) were deacons.
While the first MCs had a very religious purpose, it was easy to adapt this position to many other spheres. According to John H. McCormick, the White House even had a Master of Ceremonies. The first was Jean Pierre Sioussat under James Madison’s presidency. Sioussat was first hired by the first lady, Dolly Madison, to aid her in her social duties. While Dolly is known for her parties, it was Sioussat who made the social gatherings run smoothly and flawlessly.
Since it’s easy to play with the definitions of things, the title of MC was changed to mean “mic controller,” “move the crowd,” and “mic checka” in the 1970’s hip hop scene. It is also during this time that many artists started incorporating MC into their names.
Since then, the title of Master of Ceremonies has been brought back to a general meaning: someone who facilitates the flow of an event or ceremony. This person generally doesn’t have another job besides presiding over the ceremony. In order to eliminate the need for two people at events, Famous DJ Agency trains all of their DJs to announce special transitions at events.
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