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Backstory: Kosher comedy over egg rolls

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Ms. Weinberg and her husband, Sanford, for instance, along with eight friends, have attended every year for the past 13 years.

Both grew up on the West Coast and say their families didn't do anything significant on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, so to have an event like Kung Pao, as it's called, gives them a venue for a meal and some mirth.

Similarly, the Luxenbergs attend regularly with friends, even though they've seen some of the performances before. Jay Luxenberg likens the experience to that of his years as a "Deadhead." Even though the Grateful Dead played many of the same songs at each performance, the experience was different every time.

"The atmosphere is so much more at Kung Pao Kosher that the jokes don't matter that much," he says.

This year's headliner, Cathy Ladman, is one of those repeat performers. A regular on the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno," the Los Angeles-based comedian is drawn to Kung Pao because it's well marketed and because audience members – Jewish or otherwise – are there for similar reasons.

"For the most part you get a bright audience, and there is this added bit of background," she says. "You know at the outset that there is something common that binds the audience together."

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Geduldig got the idea for Kung Pao in the fall of 1993, while performing at a woman's comedy night in South Hadley, Mass. "It was to be at the Peking Garden Club, which I assumed was going to be a comedy club," she says. "And I pull up and it's a Chinese restaurant."

Later on Geduldig and a friend were talking about the irony of it all – telling Jewish jokes in a Chinese restaurant – and the idea for Kung Pao was born.

Fourteen years later, it has become institutionalized. Geduldig has an event coordinator, 12 volunteers per show, a lighting and sound guy, T-shirts, sponsors, a program guide, and a raffle. She even special-orders fortune cookies with Yiddish proverbs.

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