Looking for an alternative to the standard Grinch, Santa, Scrooge, Nutcracker kind of Christmas? Consider celebrating Christmas the Jewish wayâ€¦ with comedy at a Chinese restaurant. The 18th Annual Kung Pao Kosher Comedy features food as well as four stand-up comics. Lisa Geduldig, the eveningâ€™s creator, producer, comic and host, took a moment to give us some details.
Will there by any LGBT-specific content in the show?
Most years, two of the comics are straight, and two (one in addition to me) are LGBT. This year Iâ€™m the only queer (I need for more straight Jewish comics to come out or convert), and I do have some ka-weer content in my material. The audience (the repeat offenders) have come to know that there will be some gay material in the show.
How fabulous are the stand-up comics this year?
Very fabulous. All the comics are smart AND funny. Headliner Wendy Liebman is not only very funny and has a unique style, but she has got to be one of the nicest people on the planet. She has been on every TV late-night talk show and comedy show imaginable. On her December 1st appearance on Craig Ferguson, she had him plug Kung Pao as an upcoming gig. Pretty fabulous.
Joe Nguyen and Nathan Habib are up-and-coming, young comics. Joe, whoâ€™s 27, is Vietnamese and Jewish and grew up in Georgia. He had no choice but to do stand up. Nathan, who just turned 21, is a UC Santa Cruz student who began doing comedy when he was 14. He and his mom came up after Kung Pao when he was 14, and he said he wanted to start doing stand up. And here he is 7 years later.
How do you manage to perform on stage AND run the show?!
Oh, thatâ€™s nothing. I have a really good staff that runs everything else while I run the show. Lawrence Helman takes care of everything on-site; Dana Miller coordinates the 100 volunteers (over the course of 8 shows); and fellow comedian Nick Leonard will be my Will Call goddess this year. I MC and perform at all of my comedy shows. Part of it comes from not being able to/not wanting to delegate and loving to both MC and perform.
What has been the strangest incident with Kung Paoâ€™s stand-up performances in a bustling restaurant?
In 1995, one woman got up in the middle of a performance and yelled, â€śLisa, this is racist; how can you allow this?â€ť I dove across the crowd of 400 people and escorted her down the stairs. (I was in better shape then.) Ten people from Berkeley joined the bandwagon and followed her out. We continued with the other 389 people enjoying the show. One of the most memorable moments was in 1997, introducing Henny Youngman. Kung Pao ended up being his last show. He died the following February, and I was accused of killing him for the next 6 months.
What can you tell me about the New Asia Restaurant? Do I need to dress up? Can I bring my great-aunt in the wheelchair?
New Asia has dim sum on Sundays and hosts Chinese weddings, parties, and (once a year) a Jewish comedy event. You can wear a bathing suit or a tux; thereâ€™s no dress code. We run a casual show. There are a few tables for wheelchairs. All seating is reserved and most shows sell out, so itâ€™s best to buy tickets in advance.
Why are this yearâ€™s beneficiaries close to your heart?
I created the Jewish Homeâ€™s Comedy Clinic though a Kung Pao donation. You have a dozen nursing home residents, largely in their 70â€™s and 80â€™s, sitting around in wheelchairs or with their walkers, playing improv games, laughing and getting silly. Laughter really is the best medicine. I donâ€™t have a personal connection with the Jewish Community and Family Servicesâ€™ Food Pantry, but I wanted to support a food bank. With the current economy, more and more people are in need of their services.
Anything else youâ€™d like to add?
You donâ€™t have to be Jewish to attend or to get the material. I ask the comics to be heavy on the Jewish material, but they (we) talk about other things as well. Comedy goes across culturesâ€¦ we all have the same mother.
Info on the Jewish Homeâ€™s Esther Weintraub Comedy Clinic at jhsf.org. Jewish Family and Childrenâ€™s Services provides food, toiletries and more with info at jfcs.org/services.
The 18th Annual Kung Pao Kosher Comedy features an early 7-course Dinner show ($62) and a later Cocktail show ($42) with veggie egg rolls (seating at tables of 10, Chinese banquet style). Dec. 23 & Dec. 26 (Thursday & Sunday 5pm Dinner; 8:30pm Cocktail) and Dec. 24-25 (Friday to Saturday 6pm Dinner; 9:30pm Cocktail) at New Asia Restaurant, 772 Pacific Avenue, San Francisco. Tickets, call (925) 275-9005 or at koshercomedy.com.