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Woody Weingarten

3 Jewish comics can make you laugh out loud — even if you’re not Jewish

By December 24, 2022February 28th, 2023No Comments

Lisa Geduldig

It’s not too late.

To see this year’s Kung Pao Kosher Comedy, that is — an event that features three standup comics who can make you laugh out loud. Repeatedly.

My wife and I did.

It might help if you’re Jewish, living with a Jew, have best friends who are Jewish, or have spent hours and hours of stimulating and amusing conversations with seatmates on El Al plane trips to or from Israel.

Truthfully, though, non-Jews are just as apt to find the show extremely funny.

That’s because all three comedians on the bill, despite each occasionally leaning on a Semitic background, mostly launch anecdotes and one-liners about everyday stuff from their own lives.

The headliner, deadpan Mark Schiff, who’s toured with Jerry Seinfeld worldwide for 15 years and had specials on HBO and Showtime, relies on material about medical conditions and his wife; Ladman, a 67-year-old who holds the record for appearances on Kung Pao with five and has appeared on The Tonight Show nine times, deals mostly with her aging issues; and Orion Levine is a 29-year-old funnyman who rips into his family.

The event has been produced for 30 years by mistress of ceremonies Lisa Geduldig, who capitalized on the idea that hordes of Jewish people spent every Christmas Day in a movie house followed by dinner in a Chinese restaurant, the only kind generally open on the holiday.

So, calculating that she had a built-in audience, she conjured up the idea of an in-person comedy dinner show in spite of never having produced anything before. Her intuition was right, of course, and she had to turn away 200 people her first time out.

Geduldig has noted that the “audience began as 99% Jewish and has expanded to include Chinese-Jewish couples, interfaith ones, singles, families, gays, straights, undecideds, those who are far from home, and just generally people who like smart comedy mixed with Chinese food.”

This year’s anniversary show can be viewed in-person or via a YouTube Live livestreaming. Dinner begins at 5 p.m. with both the in-person show and its live livestreaming cousin an hour later — tonight and tomorrow night.

The show also highlights one lighthearted video anecdote from Geduldig’s 91-year-old mom, Arline, from Boynton Beach, Florida.

The Chinese restaurant site this go-‘round, believe it or not, is Sherith Israel, a synagogue at 2266 California Street in San Francisco — because the New Asia Restaurant, where the event had been held since its fifth year, was closed by the pandemic.

In-person attendees, by the way, receive a special swag bag that includes a pair of wooden custom-printed Kung Pao chopsticks, a packet of Yiddish-proverb fortune cookies, and sundry knick-knacks.

Masks — to block Covid, the flu, and RSV — are recommended when not eating or drinking.

Tickets, which range from $30 to $100, are available at Part of the proceeds will go to the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank and the Center for Reproductive Rights.