Mark Wade Writes...
One of the most important, and often overlooked, aspects of performing is how to tweak your routine or show. Tweaking is either putting the finishing touches on a piece of material you are happy with..or completely overhauling it in spots to make it work better and to help the flow. I always tweak my material as I want to have a stronger show for my audiences. Here's how I do it!
You can only rehearse a show or routine so many times in front of a mirror or video camera. To really get the "feel" for it you must audience test it. I pretty much stay to the written script that I've produced for my show so I can go back and red pencil areas to improve. If I adlibbed an entire routine or used sketchy notes I might not be able to find my way back to tweak it. I make mental notes as to what jokes or bits went over and then as soon as I can get back to my office I go to the computer, call up the routine, and take a look at the spot or spots that I felt were rough.
Sometimes it's just a matter of replacing the punchline or key word. Sometimes the joke is too complicated for my audience and I must replace that joke with a more simplified version of that line. Before I do any major work on the routine I let it play at lease a half dozen times before making changes. Who knows, maybe the audience was having an "off day" and it wasn't the material, it was them. Maybe I rushed the line or the delivery was off..anyway, try the material a few times before making changes.
Sometimes the joke or bit was good, but in the wrong place. Moving it around within the routine can also bring life into a faltering piece of material.
Test..test..test..experiment..experiment..experiment...there is no set rule of thumb here. If they laugh, it's a success, if not go back to the old proverbial drawing board and try something new in it's place!"
Mark Wade: firstname.lastname@example.org