What skills does a commentator need?
How long have you been doing it?
– I’ve only been doing Battle of the Nations commentary since 2016 in Prague. Since then I’ve done it every year, and have done both commentary and live presenting at other HMB events such as Buhurt Prime in Monaco, Kening Striid in The Netherlands, and White Horse in Denmark, among others.
What is the most difficult part?
– Ah, that’s a much easier question! The most difficult part is the hours. Take the first two days of Battle of the Nations – 12 hours of commentary on the same category all day both days – plus interviews and round-up before and after we start. It’s tiring, and really hard to keep it interesting for online viewers. Prague was particularly difficult because I was on my own for 5 days. But it’s part of what we do, so we try to keep up with what is happening outside the list to be informative and keep the live stream relevant.
What can you recommend to those who want to become a commentator?
– All of my recommendations come from things that I’ve learned over the years, some from mistakes and some from things that just worked well and continue to do so.
Get excited. If you get into buhurt commentary thinking it’s like golf commentary, forget it. The viewers at home need to hear your energy and enthusiasm, so give it to them.
Broaden your vocabulary. Think about ways to describe certain actions so that you don’t repeat yourself (as I did in Prague) – you can get lost in the action and not realise lexical repetition, which is not great.
Socialise. Get to know as many teams and fighters as possible; in doing so, you will have more people willing to help with interviews, and you will have more information to give between fights which will prove crucial.
Get a partner. Since I recruited Callum Walker, the commentary has been so much better – he’s knowledgeable, entertaining and dedicated. Even at events where only I do the commentary, a great deal is missing, and it just isn’t the same. You have to get on well with the person – consider that at BotN, we are in each other’s company almost 24 hours a day, so a strong alliance is essential (even if they do leave the hotel without paying for the minibar…leaving me to pay for his Red Bull addiction…).
Do you have any specific preparations for commentating at the event?
– Sure, we go over the things mentioned already (e.g. vocabulary), and we try as much as possible to memorise the programme for the day, so we can keep the viewers informed – the more they know, the better they can plan their day for viewing and going about their routine. Callum and I also have a background in acting, so we have vocal exercises to loosen our vocal chords – this is essential if you are doing commentary for a number of hours at a time. Apart from that, we just see how things go. As commentators, we can read each other well and know how the other one reacts, but that comes with experience in working with someone you trust.
These 2 guys rock for the English speaking audience and people love them. Their sense of humour, passion and inspiration make us watch HMB fights again and again and never want them to stop.