Lisa Geduldig is ready for the 23rd Kung Pao Kosher Comedy in San Francisco, an event that is “progressive, queer, Jewish definitely—everything that San Francisco is.”
Famed for his one-liners and violin chops, Youngman had appeared in the 1997 show when he was 91, and passed away two months later.
The event, meanwhile, is entering its 23rd year as a running gag based around the stereotype regarding a certain faith’s preferred restaurant option on December 25th. And it’s going as strong as ever with a mix of alter kockers and comedians from younger generations, Geduldig assures us.
The show requires first and foremost that each performer be Jewish, and then that they have either specifically Jewish material or a Jewish sensibility. Geduldig claims to be unable to define that quality, but points to a comedian she’d hired one year whose whole shtick was being miserable. “If that’s not Jewish…” she says.
The deadpan Geduldig, who hosts Kung Pao in her signature tux and tails, also runs the monthly “Comedy Returns to El Rio” in the Mission District and has MCed a variety of comedy shows in addition to Kung Pao — her specialty is a mix of Jewish and LGBTQ comedy.
In the early years of the event, she hired a mix of gay and straight comedians but eventually ran out of gay comedians. Each year she seeks out prospective entertainers in various ways, and although by now many comedians nationwide know about the show, she sometimes runs into challenges: some comedians are orthodox Jews who won’t perform on Friday nights; others are previously booked or charge too much or are actually already, like Morey Amsterdam, dead. Performers ages have ranged from 14 (a kid who arrived with his parents) to 91 (that would be Youngman, whom she found asleep backstage in his wheelchair just before introducing him–but he rallied round like a pro).