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Under the Treat: Egg Rolls and Rollicking Laughs

December 18, 2008 By:
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Come on in, beckons Cory Kahaney to "Moo Shu Jew Show."

Have an egg roll, Mr. Goldstone; have a napkin, have a chopstick, have a chair.

And, you, Mrs. Schwartz, have a good laugh.

They're both on the menu as the "Moo Shu Jew Show" (www.mooshujewshow.com) gets ready to roll onto the Gershman Y agenda this coming Wednesday night.

It's all part of the Santa clause: Jews shall have a Chinese dinner and find a source of entertainment on an eve that answers the question, "Why is this night different from all other nights," with no reference whatsoever to Passover.

It's jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell lox -- well, not exactly lox, but maybe a piece of stir-fry fish that will stir you out of the quandary that befalls so many Jews on Christmas Eve -- how many times can you watch "It's a Wonderful Life," without rooting for Mr. Potter and knowing that the only carol you hear in the air is your Aunt Carol, and she's not singing, but kvetching that she has nothing to do to bide her time.

Next year in ... the JCC? No, this year will do just fine as the Y asks why not enjoy the night with some landsmen and laughs?

"Moo Shu Jew Show" gets under way at 6 p.m. with a five-course dinner of Chinese delicacies -- of course -- not at the JCC but at the Ocean City Restaurant; that's column A. Column B is the A-list of comedians who follow, with a show headlined by comics Cory Kahaney, Jim David, Lenny Marcus and Jersey boy Brad Trackman, making tracks for your funny bone, all weighing in with their won ton of humor.

It's a first for "Last Comic Standing" alum Kahaney, hoping to slay Rudolph with his nose so bright with some light-hearted moments.

Ho-ho-Chanukah? Well, it will be the fourth night of the holiday, as well. But, it is also Christmas Eve. Or as Jews call it ... Wednesday.

So, why not make the music of the night "Come All Ye Farklempt" rather than merely "Faithful"?

Have faith, says Kahaney, that "it's not just a comedy show; there's, of course, the dinner, and we'll be playing such games as 'Jew, not a Jew.' "

What else is ... nu? "We'll have fortune cookies with Yiddish and Jewish proverbs inside."

Confucius ... Jewish? May your son grow up to be a doctor ... "There's an insiders' feel to it," rather than feeling like an outsider, the event's producer/ host says of the out-there evening.

"It's a night when Jews feel they own the city. On Christmas Eve, we are the kings!"

Well, not king of kings. But there's a royal flush to be felt when three Jews enter a bar ... in this case, they're expecting hundreds to come for dinner and a laugh.

Annual Rite of Passage?
No joke; "This is the first year we're doing it," says the New Yorker of taking the turnpike down for a turn at comedy.

"Let's do it every year; it shows we don't have to take ourselves too seriously."

She certainly has what it takes, having performed in such a show before, in California. What she does take seriously is the challenge of having two children 20 years apart. "I married a man who could not have gotten more of a raw deal," she kibitzes of second husband Ken, a lawyer with whom she is raising their 4-year-old son.

Think his job of tracking down Nazi war criminals as a member of the U.S. Justice Department was challenging? "We got married, and he got this 15-year-old daughter [from her first marriage], who needed to get in shape. And he helped her do just that. So after that accomplishment, I said you deserve going a round with me" on his own.

Round won! But raising a son is far different than having her first child. "My daughter would go on the road with me -- gigs in Amsterdam, London ... Schenectady."

Connecting with her new husband was a godsend, she says. "God said to me," says the popular Comedy Central veteran, who developed and co-hosted a radio talk show of programming geared toward women, "I can't give you a bigger mensch than this human being."

Now she's cooking -- well, she used to. "Cooking supported me for a long time," says the guffawing gourmet. "I was once known as the funniest woman in food services."

She serves up humor now, but not before she tried her hand at acting. "Which means I soon became a waitress," she laughs.

Entrée laughing? "I was the world's worst waitress. I can't be nice to people on command."

Check, please! But she checked into comedy clubs and has been dishing it out since -- in fact, creating "The J.A.P. Show," a comedic, off-Broadway homage to the highlights and hijinks of Jewish female comedians. The only thing missing was the show's name -- missing the point, concedes the comic, that, while meant as praise and not a disparagement, the title of the show didn't go over as well as the show itself.

Retitled since, it now goes out on tour, earning roars and respect.

And as for this Dec. 24, she still knows how to plate a punch line. "I did catering for a while, and isn't this the same? I'm still throwing an event."

Better than being thrown for lack of time; after all, clocking in and out of seven clubs on a Christmas Eve as a performer can be somewhat tiring -- which is what she usually does Dec. 24.

Not this year. Unwrap her stage presence -- and that of the other comics -- and what you have is a tinsel of Talmud. "I find if you can get people to laugh and forget their problems, it's a healing, a mitzvah.

"And what could be a better gift than that."  

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