A very merry Upper West Side Jewish Christmas usually meant dinner at the Hunan Balcony and a not too long line at the new Woody Allen movie.
Here in San Francisco, the city pretty near closes down on December 25 as families cocoon around a dead tree and the Jews often find themselves left out in the cold.
For those who eschew all things Christmas in favor of Hebrew delights such as egg rolls and wanton soup, “An Evening of Kung Pao Kosher Comedy’’ answers the age-old question: "What are Jews supposed to do on Christmas?" Jewish Comedy on Christmas in a Chinese Restaurant is a swell solution.
Kung Pao Kosher Comedy, Jewish comedy performed in a Chinese restaurant, has become a Christmastime tradition in San Francisco for 16 years. Sure the food at the New Asia Restaurant, (772 Pacific Avenue) doesn’t hold a candle to Eric’s or Eliza’s, but still, there’s nothing like a little laughter and deep fried food to lessen the blow that we all have been Chosen to get Left Behind when Jesus beams up the Christians.
The brainchild of comedian Lisa Geduldig, Kung Pao features some of the country’s funniest Jewish comedians and a 7 course Chinese banquet. It’s the perfect pair, shtick and a nosh. This year, the headliner is David Brenner, the Shnozzy stand up who started back when Nixon was still President, kept his comedy gig scheduled for 9/11 and is now developing a comedy website, funnydeli.com, geared toward baby boomers.
Other performers include Page Hurwitz, who began her comedy career in San Francisco at the late great Josie's Cabaret and Juice Joint – the best place in the Castro to get gay stand-up and a smoothie. (Today, its an Askew restaurant – the best place to get mashed potatoes on a skewer.) These days, Hurwitz can be seen on Logo TV. Dan Naturman is also on the bill; has been described as reminiscent of vaudeville era comedians with a modern twist.
Geduldig, herself will MC the event, as she does every year. She’s confessed that her mother unintentionally writes most of her material. A transplanted New Yorker, Geduldig concocted the concept for Kung Pao back in 1993 when she was booked to perform comedy in a Massachusetts venue. What she assumed was a comedy club, the Peking Garden Club, turned out to be a Chinese restaurant and when she and a friend bantered about the irony of performing Jewish comedy in the Chosen People’s other place of worship, Kung Pao sprouted forth.
As an added bonus, (such a deal, it is!) diners will find Yiddish proverbs in their fortune cookies. Mine, last year, I recall said “With one tuckus, you can't dance at two weddings.” The 16th Annual Kung Pao Kosher Comedy takes place Dec 24-27. Which means, you can have your Christmas and still see the show a day or two later. So, in fact, you can dance at two weddings with your one tuckus.