Kahaney’s joke rings true — while the majority of Americans are home singing carols, sipping eggnog, and anticipating Santa’s arrival, many Jewish Americans observe their own Christmas Eve tradition: going to the movies and getting Chinese food. The Moo Shu Jew Show’s success riffs on and expands that tradition by featuring a live comedy show and multicourse Chinese meal. This year’s show takes place at Ocean Harbor Restaurant in Philadelphia's Chinatown, which doesn’t serve kosher food for those who observe the Jewish dietary laws, but does provide vegetarian options.
Filling a holiday void
The New York-based Kahaney, who’s been working as a comic for more than 30 years, was a finalist in the first series of NBC’s Last Comic Standing. She brought the Moo Shu Jew Show to Philly, where she’s performed as MC or headliner over the course of its run, because she saw an opportunity to fill a void for the Jewish community here. “In New York, on Christmas Eve, there are still places to go, but Philadelphia was quiet,” she says. “There’s The Matzo Ball, but that’s aimed at people in their 20s and 30s looking for a singles event or a night at a club. There wasn’t really anything to do in Philadelphia for Jewish people in their 40s and older who wanted to go out and have fun on Christmas Eve.”
Kahaney was right on — the Moo Shu Jew Show regularly sells out weeks before Christmas Eve. She knows of audience members who come back year after year, encourage friends to check out the show, and even bring their kids when they’re old enough (according to Kahaney, that's around age 15 and up).
This year’s line-up
This year’s show features three comedians: Moody McCarthy, Marla Schultz, and Brad Zimmerman.
Moody McCarthy is a standup comic based in New York who may be familiar from appearances on Sirius XM radio and late-night shows, including Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Marla Schultz toured with Chelsea Handler for two years and has been on numerous TV series, including Comics Unleashed, Girls Behaving Badly, TNT’s Men of a Certain Age, and FX’s Dirt.
Brad Zimmerman may be best known for his very successful 2014 show My Son the Waiter, a Jewish Tragedy, which toured multiple cities (including Philly) and included an off-Broadway run.
Will the comics’ routines riff on being Jewish at Christmas? “For this show, there will definitely be lots of Jewish jokes,” Kahaney says. “Moody McCarthy isn’t Jewish, but his wife is . . . so he’s got a great perspective to share.”
The Gershman Y’s 2017 Moo Shu Jew Show is coming up on Sunday, December 24, from 6 to 10pm at Chinatown’s Ocean Harbor Restaurant (1023 Race Street, Philadelphia). Advance registration is required — and don’t wait, because the show usually sells out. Tickets ($82 in advance; $92 at the door if any are left) and more information are available online through the Gershman Y, or by calling 215-545-2400.
At right: Dinner at the Moo Shu Jew Show. (Photo courtesy of the Gershman Y.)