Who’s He Kidding?

The Great Holtzie leaves Main Line youngsters in stitches—and parents, too.



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The Great Holtzie (aka Adam Holtz) plays to an audience of one, stepdaughter Ava Mengine. (Photo by Jared Castaldi)Tucker Wolfson’s birthday was fast approaching—party time for the Lower Merion 7-year-old, and decision time for his parents. What would it be? Ice skating? A moon bounce? A circus theme? Just hats and cake won’t cut it these days.

“All Tucker wanted for his birthday was the Great Holtzie,” says Tucker’s dad, Paul. “He’d seen him a couple times before and couldn’t stop talking about him. A week after seeing the act, he was still laughing out loud over it.”

The Great Holtzie’s wacky stand-up comedy is officially a phenomenon among Main Line youngsters. Meanwhile, moms and dads showed their love this year with a Nickelodeon Parents’ Picks Award f0r Best Party Entertainer in Philadelphia.

The man behind the greatness is 40-year-old Media resident Adam Holtz, who’s been doing this full time for two years. “People ask me if I’m a clown, or if I wear costumes and do tricks,” says Holtz.

His answer: no, no and no. And he doesn’t do balloon animals, face paint or Pin the Tail on the Donkey.

Minus such traditional trappings, it’s understandable that many parents would be skeptical at first. Around here, Holtz is part of an exclusive club when it comes to his occupation. He describes himself as the world’s greatest—and only—stand-up comedian for kids ages 3-10.

“I tell parents, ‘I’ll make your kids laugh harder than you’ve ever seen them laugh,’” says Holtz, who charges $250-$400 for private events.

Apparently, Holtz is delivering on that promise more often than not. His act has been seen by thousands locally, and in New York and Washington, D.C. He’s performed for audiences as intimate as 10 and as large as 800 (at the Keswick Theatre in Glenside). He’s done WXPN’s Kids Corner, family shows at Helium Comedy Club in Center City, festivals at Penn’s Landing, and even a show at the Kimmel Center. He also makes appearances at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

“I’d have to do 158,000 shows there to make up for the sins of my past,” quips Holtz in reference to his work at the hospital. “My niece spent some time there, and I feel indebted to them.”

It surprises even Holtz that no other stand-up comedian has honed in on his 10-years-and-younger demographic. “There was a need for something different,” says Holtz. “A lot of children’s entertainers—like clowns—are so creepy. Kids don’t need to be tricked into laughing by using silly makeup and outfits.”

In keeping with this belief, Holtz treats his young audiences with respect. He’s even been dubbed the “anti-Mister Rogers” by some fans.

“I wanted to take an adult stand-up kind of approach to it and be a little edgy—not all nicey-nice,” he says. “You don’t need a condescending tone to relate to children. I’m trying to elevate their sense of humor. If a kid walks out of my show wanting to make someone laugh because I made them laugh, then that’s a great thing.”
 

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