There’s a saying in Philadelphia that on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the Jews invade Chinatown. Full disclosure, having grown up in the neighborhood for most of my childhood, it’s kind of true. Last year, my family was the only non-Jewish table in David's Mai Lai Wah. So what could be better than dining on wontons and chop suey? Adding Jewish comics, of course!
Drop your fork and grab the chopsticks for the "Moo Shu Jew Show," an annual event on Christmas Eve that pairs some of the country’s hottest Jewish comedians with a family style Chinese dinner in Philadelphia’s Chinatown.
Now in its eighth year, this tasty combo was born out of necessity says founder and comedian Cory Kahaney. “New York has unlimited options for things to do on Christmas Eve but Philly just had the Matzo Ball.” For all the “goys” or non-Jews, the Matzo Ball is the nation’s largest Jewish single’s event that also takes place on Dec. 24.
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“Everybody knows that on Christmas Eve, Jews go to a Chinese restaurant," says Cory. “So we thought, what if we all went together? What if we brought a bunch of really great Jewish comics to entertain them?”
The idea has certainly paid off. It’s been a sellout every year with no signs of slowing down especially since Christmas Eve this year falls on the first night of Hanukkah.
Cory says that as a producer, it’s is very gratifying to see “my people enjoy something I conceived.” But is the local Jewish community the only ones who adore Chinese food so? That’s hardly the case. Part of this year’s entertainment, Josh Gondelman, writer for the "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” and Julie Goldman, from “The People’s Couch,” affectionately recall their family gatherings being filled with smells of lo mein and cashew chicken.
“My family absolutely got Chinese food and then went to the movies or vice versa,” says Julie. Josh thinks it’s a fun tradition. “It’s great to have something to do on a day where, as a Jewish person, there are no other specific activities to do. Plus, all your non-Jewish friends are busy and most businesses that aren’t Chinese restaurants and movie theaters are closed. So I think it’s terrific.”
You certainly don’t have to be Jewish to attend, but there don’t expect pork or shellfish to be on the menu. (The meal, however, isn’t kosher but vegetarian options are available.)
Tickets can be purchased in advance by visiting GershmanY.org or by calling 215-545-4400. In the immortal words of renowned Chinese Chef Martin Yan, “Run, don’t Wok!”
Moo Shu Jew Show
Dec. 24, 6-10 p.m.
1023 Race St.