Em’ceeing A Lot of Money: Side Income for Hosting

Have you got a magnetic personality? Can you speak well in public? Do you empathize with the man on the street? Yes? Then you’re clearly not one of our MPs. Which means like average Singaporeans, you’re struggling with the current cost of living. The good news is, you can use your charming persona to roll with the (financial) blows. In this article, I ask part-time emcee Eugene Tay about this booming industry:


Eugene Tay

Eugene Tay, entrepreneur and part-time emcee


What’s Emceeing?

Emceeing is getting on a stage, picking up a mic, and insisting everyone pay attention. Just like after your 15th drink at Wala’s, only you’re sober enough to feel embarrassed.

An emcee’s job is to direct audience attention at something; a married couple, a social message, a video game, etc. That’s the easy part. The hard part is keeping everyone’s attention there, for an hour or more. Think of it as a fusion of sales, public relations, and theatre.

Because emcee work has short durations (a few hours a month), it’s becoming the student job of choice. Events manager Xui Han is amused:

With one e-mail I can get competing quotes from 10 – 15 emcees, usually within a few hours. Where are they all coming from, man?”

From the urge to make money, that’s where.


Two emcees dressed as PUB servicemen

Eh dude, I think I know why nobody wanted this “Paying Water Bill is Fun” gig.


What’s the Money Like?

I asked Eugene how much it pays:

At the beginning I was only given about $300 for a Dinner and Dance Event that can last for five hours. These days I can command from $500 – $5000.

It really depends on how large scale the event is. One event I emcee’d for was held at Suntec Convention hall for 5000 participants. That one I took home 5k. A small D&D for 20 people might fetch me only $500. A mall event may bring in $800 – $1200.”

But how much time does this take up?

An hour before the event, the event itself, and possibly a half hour after.”


Jail cell

And in events with drinking games, as long as the judge decides.


2. Why is Everyone Doing It?

A single request for an emcee will flood your mailbox. It’s like the new viagra spam. But why the sudden surge of would-be emcees? Is it something in the water? An extra dash of self-esteem in breakfast cereals?

Why, Eugene?

Cos it seems like easy money. And for agencies who just hire anyone, an undergrad emcee can get $150 for three to five hours work. That sounds like easy money. It’s just that people are more aware of which job pays a little more during the holidays. Waiters are so yesteryear. Why earn $5.00 per hour when you can earn $50.00?


Person in chicken suit

I’d rather do this than emcee. Who wants to prance around making a fool of himself?


3. Mostly A Guy Thing?

Hey, I’m all for gender equality. I wish it weren’t true, but…if you’re female, this may not be the right source of side-income. Emceeing is a guy-dominated industry; there’s a running joke about how emcee is one letter short of MCP.

So, Eugene…why don’t many women get to use this as side income?

A guy can make fun of himself on stage, get cheap laughs and still be funny. He can be loud, crass, etc. But a girl is judged based on her looks first. An ugly girl won’t grab attention. A good looking girl finds it hard to be loud and funny.

That being said, a girl would be perfect for product launches and mall shows. A guy is better suited for Dinner & Dance, and other “crazy” type events.


Girl emcee and guy emcee on a stage

Be honest. Which would you accept a fart joke from?


4. Why Not Full Time?

So, solid pay for a couple of hours work. And if you’re full time, you get to up that price further. Why would anyone (like, you know, Eugene) slave in an office?

Part Time job for me. There are full timers for this line, but it can get really tiring because you have to be a happy bunny all the time. And unless you’re a known celebrity, it is tough to do this full time.

You probably have to take up s***y assignments that you dislike, only because you need to make ends meet. If you do it part time, you can still select the jobs that you would find enjoyable. Remember, if you don’t enjoy your job, your audience will definitely know.”


Talking into a mic

Geez, I think I know why the last guy quit. Okay, one more time: Pursuant to section 49, sub-section 7E…


5. Let’s Talk Qualifications

Is there some sort of emcee school? Some list of qualities you urgently need?

You better learn to be shameless, fast on your feet, witty, knowledgeable (pop culture references, worldly knowledge, etc). You need a wide wardrobe to fit most occasions. Good emcees create their own games and activities. Even better emcees “produce” their own shows – songs, concept, costumes, games, storyline, etc.”

Oh, and let’s not forget charisma:

“Emceeing is about about showing your personality. You need to shine. You need to CONTROL. You need to improvise. A good emcee controls the stage with his charisma, a bad emcee depends on his surroundings (music, crowd, games, etc).”


Sleeping on the grass

I’ve got personality alright. My speeches have been used to calm riots.


6. Don’t Things Go Wrong?

When someone includes “shameless” as a job qualifier, you better brace for eternal YouTube humiliation. So what happens when an emcee messes up on stage?

There is nothing more embarrassing and demoralising when you mess up on stage. Every young emcee WILL mess up. Even experienced emcees like me mess up.

With enough experience, understanding of human emotions and reactions, you can turn a disastrous situation to your advantage. Think of it as a guitarist playing live on stage. Forgot the chords? Better be prepared to improvise. Fell on stage while dancing? Learn from Robbie Williams. He posed on the ground and continued singing.”


Pointing at a power point slide

So, what was wrong with the way I hosted that birthday party?


7. I’m Quitting My Job, Boss

I’m leaving to become an emcee. How do I get started?

Join an agency, grow your contacts. Find out who’s running what, and start hanging out at events.”

Eugene also mentions he got his start when: “I got talent spotted. Agency took me in and gave me gigs.” So there you go; there’s no job application form. It’s just a question of attracting the right attention. And if you can’t do that, well…it’s a sign this isn’t the right job for you anyway.

Image Credits:
madaboutasia, Casey Serin, stevedepolo, DJ Houston & Destiny B. Childs, pretenditous, markhillary, knittymarie

Are you an emcee, or do you want to be one? Comment and tell us about it!

Get more Personal Finance tips and tricks on www.MoneySmart.sg

Click to Compare Singapore Home Loans, Car Insurance and Credit Cards on our other sites.

More From MoneySmart

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • US missile cruiser docks at Subic
    US missile cruiser docks at Subic

    A US Navy missile cruiser has dropped anchor in Subic Bay as part of “routine port call,” amid rising tension in the West Philippine Sea stirred by China’s island building activities and other threatening moves by its forces. The arrival of the Ticonderoga-class missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG-67) at the Subic Bay Freeport in Olongapo City yesterday was “just a routine port visit for ship replenishment and routine maintenance of shipboard system,” said Philippine Navy Public Affairs Office …

  • Agri, power sectors should brace for El Niño
    Agri, power sectors should brace for El Niño

    The agriculture and power sectors, as well as the general public should brace for a prolonged El Niño phenomenon that could further reduce water supply for electricity and irrigation, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) warned yesterday. Flaviana Hilario, acting deputy administrator for research and development of PAGASA, said the El Niño condition is expected to intensify from weak to moderate by August this year. Anthony Lucero, …

  • China to US: Help cool down Phl on sea row
    China to US: Help cool down Phl on sea row

    The US should help “cool down” the Philippines and realize that its meddling in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) dispute would only stir tensions, a Chinese newspaper reported. “Washington should know its meddling in the South China Sea has been destabilizing the region. The US has vowed not to take sides in the territorial dispute, which involves China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. …

  • No stopping K to 12 despite SC case, protests
    No stopping K to 12 despite SC case, protests

    K to 12 is the fruit of years of comprehensive consultations involving different sectors in education,” Aquino said during the launching of the program at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City. Organized by the Department of Education (DepEd), the launch was attended by teachers, students and representatives from different stakeholders supportive of the K to 12 program. It was held two years after the signing of Republic Act 10533, or the Enhanced Basic Education …

  • MNLF pushes review of peace pact with gov’t
    MNLF pushes review of peace pact with gov’t

    The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) maintained its bid for completion of the tripartite review of the implementation of the peace agreement with the Philippine government in 1996. The MNLF’s desire to put consensual closure to the tripartite effort was relayed by its leaders to Sayed El-Masry, the special envoy of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), during the annual foreign ministers conference in Kuwait last Thursday. The MNLF peace agreement with the government in Sept. 2, …

  • Noy to raise sea dispute issue with Abe
    Noy to raise sea dispute issue with Abe

    President Aquino is expected to raise the West Philippine Sea dispute during his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Japan next week. Aquino will leave for Tokyo on June 2 for a state visit until June 5. The President’s visit would boost relations between the two countries on all aspects including defense and security, according to Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for Asian and Pacific Affairs Minda Cruz. …

  • CHED releases wrong data on tuition hike
    CHED releases wrong data on tuition hike

    The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) appears to have released erroneous data on the allowed tuition and other fee increases in Metro Manila for the incoming academic year. On the list of the 51 approved higher education institutions (HEI) allowed to impose hikes, CHED pegged the average increase in tuition at P32.34 per unit and the average increase in other fees at P34.79. However, a Philippine STAR re-computation showed that the actual average approved tuition increases in Metro …

  • Leni Robredo may run for senator
    Leni Robredo may run for senator

    The widow of the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo admitted that running for higher office in 2016 had crossed her mind. Camarines Sur Third District Rep. Leni Robredo said she is focused on her re-election, but there is always the possibility that she would seek higher office. “There is always that possibility… because the filing (of certificate of candidacy) is in October yet,” Robredo said in an interview after her speech during the 23rd Girl Scouts of the Philippines Council …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options