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:  markwade@kidshowvent.com


  1. I love these tid-bits from Mark. They are quite insightful and full of wisdom. I copy and past them into a document and save them together. Maybe Mark should write a book of Ventriliquial Insights. ;-)

  2. Anonymous9/23/2012

    Mark is absolutley right about not scrapping or tweaking a line or even a routine, until you have tried it a number of times. I have noticed that a 'line or joke' may be 'missed' by the audience tonight, but that same line delivered in the same way the next night, two hundred miles away, brings the house down with laughter.

    I remember such an occasion a few months ago. I thought that I had come up with a great line for a pre-existing dialogue. I thought that it would surely be the pinnacle line in the routine. That night, I tried it. It got no response. I thought, "this line is too funny to scrap". We were at our next venue for three or four nights,so I tried it again the first night. I had to wait until the frenzied hysteria settled, before Evan & I could continue. Over the next three to four days, I had occasion to go various places with the hosting Pastor. Everywhere that we went, he kept telling people about that same gag. Yes it was the same gag, that initially went nowhere.

    Thank you Mark, for all of the wonderful 'helps' that you offer to your fellow vents.

    Wilson Kindred