If you don’t already know about this, you should mark your calendars NOW for the 29th Annual Kung Pao Kosher Jewish Comedy. In the West Coast’s Bay Area, this is a long-standard, much anticipated event for local Jews at Christmas. And it’s also become available to us!
Despite all the nasty adjustment changes required by the pandemic, Kung Pao will take place — but just in a virtual Chinese restaurant — Dec. 24-26. This is actually a boon for Jews in other localities because it will now be offered on both Zoom and YouTube Live, opening wide the door of opportunity for everyone to attend. So why should we not also be joining in this celebration here in our North Texas area?
“Kung Pao” is already a long-time Jewish institution in San Francisco; it’s actually one of the city’s longest running comedy shows. According to event publicist Lisa Geduldig, it fully answers “that age-old question: What are Jews supposed to do on Christmas?” Normally, Kung Pao is a live event in one of the Bay Area’s Chinatown restaurants, but the pandemic has changed all that. Still, last year, more than 2,000 comedy-hungry Jews headed for it in cyberspace, and that’s where to go again this year, to mark the 29th birthday celebration of the final answer to that annual question — now for everyone!
There’s already much hope for the traditional live show’s return on its Big 3-0 next year, but that’s still a question mark. However, for this year: Those desiring to join in a Zoom version can reserve “breakout rooms” offering the opportunity to “chat and chew” together with some others before the show. The show itself will feature several New York comedians plus Geduldig’s 90-year-old mother, who will be offering gut-busting laughs from her Florida home. (The daughter’s own related bit of retrospective laughter: “I’m sending this information from my rotary dial phone,” she says in her publicity release.)
My own personal note: For many years, many Dallas Jews have signed on to our local 3 Stars Jewish Cinema’s annual major event: a Dec. 24 “suitable” movie — there’s a different one each Christmas — followed by a “Dutch-treat” dinner in a private dining room at a local Chinese buffet restaurant. This year the movie will screen on Wednesday, Dec. 22 since Dec. 24 is a Friday night (see related story on p. 5). You can check in at 512-814-9905 to get full info on this year. But even better, at the same time you can also check out the perks offered with membership to 3 Stars, the nonprofit founded back in 2001 that since then has offered its monthly series of widely varying Jewish films to everyone interested. Of course, you don’t have to be Jewish to also enjoy all its many not-just-monthly screenings benefits.
Now, here’s the required bit of history: Jews began eating in Chinese restaurants — notably in New York City — because they were the only places open on Christmas Day. And it didn’t take long for what seemed like a necessity to become a much-anticipated annual outing — not truly necessary at all, but certainly a welcome change from sitting around the same old table with the same old family eating the same old food. When so many others were already out celebrating, why not join them in what they were doing?
(I actually married my first husband just because I was captivated: He was already an expert with chopsticks when I started dating him, so I quickly learned. I still use his final gift to me — my own chopsticks — and I’ll teach any of you how to use them yourselves, if you like. But yes or no — either way –have a happy Jewish celebration on Christmas!)
Harriet Gross can be reached at