20 years of Christmas ‘Kosher’ kibbutzing

Courtesy PhotoComic Scott Blakeman

Courtesy PhotoComic Scott Blakeman

Nineteen years ago, a Jewish comedian from New York found herself doing stand-up Hanukkah humor in a Chinese restaurant in western Massachusetts.

The comedian is Lisa Geduldig. Her fluke night became Kung Pao Kosher Comedy, now a San Francisco institution featuring mostly Jewish entertainment, on Christmas, in a Chinese restaurant.

This year, the 20th annual event takes up residence Saturday through Tuesday in Chinatown’s New Asia Restaurant, with headliner Judy Gold, San Francisco’s Mike Capozzola, Geduldig and Brooklyn, N.Y.-born and -bred Scott Blakeman, who did Kung Pao back in 2001.

“Kung Pao stands out from anything else I’ve done in my career,” Blakeman says. “When I got off the plane in 2001, Lisa was holding up a sign that said ‘Jerry Seinfeld,’ and that sort of set the tone from there.”

Blakeman has a reputation as a “liberal Jewish comedian.” Jokes about politics and politicians are a good part of his oeuvre, and he has appeared on FoxNews.com as a counter-opinion to the conservative establishment.

“I haven’t been on since the beginning of October this year,” Blakeman says. “But it was fun to have 3½ years of saying all these things, and, in the end, most people agreed with me and not them. So that was kind of a nice feeling.”

Like many comics, Blakeman’s cultural heritage is a seemingly infinite resource for material.

“I think if you have a lively family life, I think that inspires comedy,” Blakeman says. “In my case, the whole family expresses themselves loudly, and some of the funniest people in Jewish families don’t get onstage!”

Talking about his own family’s Hanukkah tradition, he says, “The menorah we had growing up didn’t have candles. We had an electric one with fake wax and orange bulbs we’d throw in and my mother would say, ‘Did you screw in the third day yet?’ Right now, sitting behind me, is my electric menorah. … You can’t light a real candle, the house might burn down.”

Every year, Kung Pao — which has entertained some 40,000 revelers over two decades with seven-course Chinese dinner shows and “late” (8:30 and 9:30 p.m.) cocktail shows — donates a portion of ticket proceeds to charity.

This year’s beneficiaries are the Brown Twins/Jewish Family and Children’s Services Emergency Assistance Fund (which is helping The City’s famed octogenarian sisters and others with assisted living needs and medical management), and Bay Area Women’s & Children’s Center Drop-In Services and Food Pantry in the Tenderloin.

artsentertainmentKung Pao Kosher ComedyLisa GeduldigOther Arts

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott leaves the scene of an officer-involved shooting at Brannan Street and Jack London Alley in the South Park area on Friday, May 7, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Chief Scott issues rare apology to man shot by SF police

San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott issued a rare apology Thursday to… Continue reading

Passengers board a BART train bound for the San Francisco Airport at Powell Street station. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
BART bumps up service restoration to August 30, offers fare discounts

Rail agency breaks pandemic ridership records, prepares to welcome more passengers

Ashley and Michelle Monterrosa hold a photo of their brother Sean Monterrosa, who was killed by a Vallejo police officer early Tuesday morning, as they are comforted at a memorial rally at the 24th Street Mission BART plaza on Friday, June 5, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
State Department of Justice to investigate Sean Monterrosa shooting by Vallejo police

Attorney General Rob Bonta steps in after Solano County DA declines case

Gov. Gavin Newsom, show here speaking at the City College of San Francisco mass vaccination site in April, faces a recall election due to anger on the right over his handling of the pandemic, among other issues. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Why Gavin Newsom’s popularity could work against him in the recall election

Top pollster: ‘We’re not seeing the Democrats engaged in this election. And that may be a problem…’

Passengers ride the 14-Mission Muni bus on Friday, March 12, 2021. (Jordi Molina/Special to S.F. Examiner)
Transit officials fear Free Muni pilot could hurt already-strained service levels

Supporters say fare cuts could increase ridership, help low-income residents

Most Read