Anyone who has ever visited a bingo hall knows the importance of the Bingo Caller. The Bingo Caller is like the MC of the bingo game. But the duties of the bingo caller go much deeper than choosing and announcing bingo balls. There are certain qualities every bingo call must have, and these talents and skills and responsibilities are not to be taken lightly.
The Mystique of the Bingo Caller
Bingo Callers have a certain je-ne-sais-quoi. Although their role is "simply" to collect bingo balls and call them out so that people can daub the respective numbers on their bingo cards, their personalities always shine through the calls, whether they're proclaiming a good old "B12" or revealing the ball "N32", you can tell straight away if they have a sense of humor, confidence, and sometimes you can even tell whether they're having a good or bad day.
Power and Glory of Bingo
Bingo players have always had a love-hate relationship with their bingo caller. There are delicate trust issues, but mostly a kind of reverence for this person who ultimately decides which spots you may daub and whose bingo cards will fill up the fastest. The hardiest of bingo players have often shown outward signs of disrespect toward the bingo caller, but don't believe what you hear or see. There is no love lost between the bingo player and the bingo caller, because after all, the bingo caller is one of the most powerful figures in the game of bingo, and if he plays his ... * ahem * ... cards right, the bingo caller can and will win the affections and respect of any bingo hall congregation. The following sections will illustrate how this is done, as well as shed some light on the sometimes stressful but always glamorous role of the bingo caller.
Bingo Calling: A Lifestyle, Not a Game
To bingo callers, bingo is not just a game. It's a way of life, and it requires talent and skill. The art of bingo calling is can be very specific and challenging - it is a craft, after all, and requires a dedicated and talented person. So what types of qualities and skills does a prospective bingo caller need? Read on.
Bingo is a fast-paced game, yes. But bingo calling doesn't have to be. Take your time calling each number, don't forget that most bingo rooms will only consider a bingo to be legitimate once the caller has called it out loud, not once shown on the screen. This is not to say you should call in slow motion, but take your cues from your audience, see how quickly they raise their heads and look expectantly for the next number. Just remember: going too fast will cause some verbal stumbling and errors - and nobody wants that.
Believe it or not, there can sometimes be some trust issues involved when playing bingo - especially those bingo games that are worth a lot of money. Those high-stakes games and big jackpots can have people very much on edge, so winning your audience's trust is key. For example, in the case that consecutive numbers come up, give a slight shake of your head and cluck your tongue - giving a little barely-audible tsk tsk. That way, you'll be leaving your bingo players, like you, blaming luck or faulty equipment.
Is Using Nicknames A Bad Idea?
Oftentimes, bingo callers will use nicknames, or codenames, for bingo balls. We've all heard them before - B1, Kelly's eye. 88, two fat ladies. Many bingo callers will find themselves wondering, are these names outdated? Is it better to be straight forward and clear, or fun and joking? It's safe to say that it depends on your personal preference. Mandy Gorgan, UK's first female to receive the Bingo Caller of the Year award, said this: "Bingo is big business these days and it's important the audience can concentrate on your voice." Mandy does not go in for "legs 11" or any other bingo lingo. "You can't mess around with silly lingo, not when there are such large sums of money at stake," Mandy added.
Mark Wilson, assistant manager of the Beacon Bingo Club, feels that "people have still got this stereotype of people using 'two fat ladies, 88', but that has gone out of fashion a long time ago. It's very cheesy."
I believe that it's a judgment call though; using nicknames can often be a fun part of the game, and if done correctly will often raise a smile or chuckle from your bingo crowd. Be spontaneous. If you can improvise some rhymes or a few gleefully offbeat but appropriate nicknames, do it! And it's definitely worth being knowledgeable on bingo ball nicknames, in case you do decide to use them.
Let the Audience Guide You
Finally, take your cues from your audience. Are they relaxed? Would they prefer a soft, soothing bingo-calling voice? Are they energetic, or anxious - do they require a strong, confident voice? Melodic, or monotonous? These are all the things a bingo caller must consider before choosing a bingo calling strategy. A good piece of advice would be to take a look at your audience and adapt your calling to fit each unique group of people; make a judgment call. But the final word in this matter is always a personal preference. Do what you feel most comfortable with, and the less artificial and uncomfortable you sound, the more respect you will command and the more enjoyment you will create.