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Adam Wade: The heart of the story

Storyteller Adam Wade brings his funny, touching new show to the First Person Arts Festival.

Adam Wade didn't get into storytelling for the glory. When he started out, there were no quiet salons full of attentive audiences, no podcasts or radio programs devoted to the introspective genre. And he didn't get on stage because he's a natural performer -- he's nervous, always has been, and it still shows. "Growing up, most people wanted to be baseball players or firemen. For me, I guess I just wanted to connect with people," says Wade, 37. "After years of being a geek in high school, then going to a small college with these frat guys, no one was paying attention to me. And it's not like I wanted to get the girl -- I just thought that I might have something to offer, and that there were probably people out there like me."

It turns out that there were plenty. Endearingly awkward and artfully honest, his tales of growing up in New Hampshire and navigating adulthood in New York City with slightly more finesse have a universal, familiar appeal. Instinctively, you want to root for this guy -- you want him to get the girl, you want him to get whatever else it is he's after -- and if you're feeling particularly generous toward yourself, you'll recognize something in his wise but wide-eyed charm.

"The thing that works for me is being me up there," says Wade, a regular winner at NYC's The Moth Story Slam. "There have been nights that I've done very well with an audience, and then post-mortem on the subway I think, OK, well it wasn't me -- and it doesn't feel very satisfying."

After selling out two First Person Arts Festival performances last year, Wade is back in Philly this weekend with "The Adam Wade Family Hour." Like his previous shows, it mixes the laugh-out-loud with more subtle moments. "A lot of my stories end sad, and I used to really wonder, should I be getting big laughs?" admits Wade. "There's just so much thrown at people, so much entertainment stimuli, but sometimes they'll remember this guy with the glasses, and his story, and for me this means it's working -- it's the ultimate compliment."

 
 
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