The end of a Karaoke era. A Master MC Retires, December, 2006
An master karaoke MC at the end of his career. A tribute to Jeff Zedic.
Having watched karaoke venues seriously for the past 2 years I've noted the things that make a Karaoke MC good or bad. The think I look for most is what makes a Karaoke MC Fun. That's what is all about ,right? Its with a happy and heavy heart I write this because this year I believe I found the best example of a truly fun Karaoke MC. So fun in fact several other professional Karaoke hosting companies (I'm not giving names but you know who you are), have sent their MC fledglings to watch him. Jeff Zedic has for the last decade been an ideal example of what a Karaoke Host should bring to the show. Happy because I had the opportunity. Sad because I only heard of him 7 months before his decision to retire. Many of you may have heard that Jeff Zedic is finally retiring and moving abroad. I write this good-bye in hopes it may inspire another MC to achieve or surpass the standards Mr. Zedic has set in the Karaoke MC World.
So what are the qualities that make an ideal MC? Attention to sound for one thing. I find many MCs lacking in this area. Besides Neil Harris, Jeff Zedic is the only other MC I've seen pay as much attention to his equipment and the way it functions in the room. Watching Jeff give pointers to his replacement, I heard him iterate several times the importance of listening for sound in the room and applying discrete sound effects to enhance the singers. The listening is constant and it always showed but I only truly appreciated it when I saw other MCs with less attention to this kind of detail. This applied to Jeff's equipment. I've often emphasized that wireless mikes are a nice touch. Jeff actually took the trouble to tell me the reasons he didn't use wireless mikes is it affected the quality of sound. I've seen people use quality wireless mikes (although good ones are around $800 apiece I'm told) but you have to respect anyone not wanting to risk lessening an already sweet sounding system.
Song selection is one thing Jeff Zedic always had. I was happily surprised when he blew my scoring system for song selection right off the scale. The song totals as of December, 2006 were 13964 songs with more being added. The second official selection published in any books are 9000 songs (once duplicates are eliminated). Jeff has no duplications of any kind and the selection spans over MANY genres. No one of any generation is eliminated or "banned" from participation.
The hardest part of the Karaoke MC job is engaging the audience. Most MCs don't engage nearly enough for a multitude of reasons. And its hard. Much harder than you'd think. Sometimes its having enough trivia in your head to avoid repeating the same stuff too many times. Sometimes its a sense of timing. Other times MCs just aren't assertive enough or rely on their band of "home boys" to get things started. The thing that made Jeff Zedic stand out, even without his top quality equipment, selection and attention to detail, is the way he can engage any audience. His mix of music & political trivia along with jokes about members of the audience (sometimes a little risky) and occasional play acting with the singers just keeps you engaged and laughing all the way to the mike (or even at the mike if you are lucky). His cowbell will certainly be missed by many. He probably could have been a comedian had he decided go in that direction. The creativity,energy and work required to keep an audience engaged for more for 4 hours is unimaginable when you think about it. Peter Styles, Peter Rockwell both do an amazing job, but Jeff is a touch act to follow which is why he had such an extensive following.
So, Jeff, thank you for 10 years of bringing fun, frolic, humor and harmony to karaoke lovers in Toronto. One can imagine that after 10 years its time for a change. I wish you well on your journey to Europe but you will be missed by Karaoke Participants in Toronto, both singers and MCs alike I'm sure (after all how many Master MCs are there in Toronto). My apologizes for holding out of this, but I had to be sure, but you officially get the Karaoke MC Of the Year Award for 2006.
Bon Voyage and thanks again for all the fun karaoke nights.
Jonah A. Libster
Toronto Karaoke Blogspot Writer
PS: Karaoke at Mayday Malone's and The Groundhog Pub will continues with the same equipment and a new MC, Jeremy Siklosi. While he is a little new to this gig, he is making an active effort to measure up to his mentor. Review to follow shortly, as I watch him progress.