A funny alternative to strip clubs and Chinese food

It’s not always appropriate to make digestive tract jokes, but it’s always appropriate to bring Jews and Muslims together during Christmas time.
Jewish stand-up sensation Jeff Schouela and Palestinian comedy queen Eman El Husseini are doing just that. On Dec. 21, when Christians, Catholics, heck, even Atheists, will be adorning their coniferous trees with the most iridescent of ornaments, Jews and Muslims will have the opportunity to come together through laughter during this most religiously-exclusive of times at the Gesù Theatre.
The co-producers of their second annual show “Kosher Jokes for the Halaladays” aim to confront these groups’ religious differences head-on. Prepare to be entertained by some of Montreal’s biggest names such as Joey Elias, Dan Laxer, and host Ali Hassan.
“Everyone has that outlet of laughter,” Schouela said, making it the perfect remedy to mend the world of its political ills. The only time laughter isn’t permitted, however, is when it results in the excretion of bodily fluids. “I made a fan laugh so hard once, he puked on my shoes. That wasn’t pleasant,” he reminisced.
Eman, who has performed stand-up in the Middle East, knows about comedy’s unifying qualities first-hand, and how it is both a powerful and peaceful weapon. “People in the Middle East are very politically-savvy because they’re always airing the news,” she noted.
The core of hatred stems from ignorance, a fact that is common to groups on all ends of the stratosphere. “If people like the show, they’ll come back, but they also put a face to the opposition,” Eman said. The dopamine-inducing jokes emanating from these comedians’ routines has brought back audiences for more, because they address stigmatized issues that no one else has the courage to confront.
Comedy is not a defense mechanism, according to Schouela. It is a shrewd business technique that “everyone in the corporate world is using, because it gets messages across.”
In respect to our glorious provincial language, Schouela and Eman have learned to perform in French. “The bright side is that [Francophones] let you rest for 10 seconds because there’s always applause,” Schouela said.
It’s not always the easiest thing to walk up on stage and strip down emotionally, and sometimes, physically nude in front of complete strangers. Eman shared a heart-burning – I mean warming – story about how she copes with baring it all: “I once ate at this really amazing Pakistani restaurant in Toronto and forgot that I wasn’t a guy, so I ate a ridiculous amount. I had a set right after, and wanted to throw up the entire time.” She wound up taking a time out to chug water in order to avoid mid-sentence splatters. Schouela also “OCD checks [his] fly” to prevent unwanted appearances—a clear indication that these two both have their improvisational skills down pat.
What happens when comedians take a walk off the stage? Do they turn off their funny buttons, or untie their clown shoes? “I’m not really schizophrenic, but my pet peeve is when someone will say ‘Tell me a joke!’ and it’s like, ‘Buddy, I don’t tell knock-knock jokes,'” Schouela said.
A joke you’ll never hear come  out of Eman’s mouth, though, is one about poo. “As a girl, I’d never talk about going to the bathroom. Sex is fine, but the bathroom stuff? Ugh,” she shuddered.
Schouela quickly came to the dirty’s defence, stating that when you start out, you’re in survival mode. “People love dirty material,” he said, an honest ambassador to all of our subconscious minds.
Due to the popularity of last year’s production, the team will be hosting shows this year in Toronto and Ottawa as well. They also plan to hit up Jerusalem next year to perform the show on Christmas day. Oh, the irony.
So Jews, Buddhists, Christians, aliens and ninjas alike, “Kosher Jokes for the Halaladays” awaits you as a great alternative to stuffing your face with Chinese food and spending last week’s paycheque on a crappy lap dance this holiday season—but if you don’t come to the show, according to Schouela, “you are racist.”
Catch Kosher Jokes for the Halaladays at the Gesu Theatre (1200 Bleury St.) on Dec. 21st at 8 p.m. Tickets are $21.50. Call (514) 861-4036 or visit www.legesu.com for more information.

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