San Francisco comedian Rick Overton described her act as a California stop — she never actually stops at a stop sign, but just keeps rolling through.
Comic Wendy Liebman, known for her dry delivery and her “dot dot dot” style that leaves people hanging until she throws out another joke, says, “I remember watching Phyllis Diller do an interview on Mike Douglas, and she said, ‘You have to make people laugh, and when they think they’re done laughing, you have to make them laugh again.’ I knew exactly what she meant, and I was only 11 years old.”
The Los Angeles-based comic — who says her childhood house in Long Island is haunted because her parents still live there — headlines the 18th Kung Pao Kosher Comedy, which runs Thursday through Sunday at New Asia Restaurant in Chinatown. The bill also features Vietnamese-Jewish comic Joe Nguyen; college student Nathan Habib, who has been performing since he was 14; and host-creator Lisa Geduldig.
Liebman is making her second Kung Pao appearance. She says she’s looking forward to the food at New Asia, after eating it four nights in a row during her first performances in 2008.
Although she is Jewish, she says she rarely talks about it onstage. She bases a lot of her material on her family and husband, who happens to be the son of famed Disney composer Robert B. Sherman, and was the inspiration for the song “A Spoonful of Sugar” from “Mary Poppins.”
But to keep in the spirit of Kung Pao, and because her family will be in the audience, Leibman might throw in a story or two from her Jewish childhood. She might mention how when she was 8, she found the afikoman, the matzo hidden at the Passover seder, in the pocket of a fur coat — yet it turned out it wasn’t the afikoman, but just a piece of matzo the woman was saving for later.
Liebman — whose first paid gig was with Dennis Leary for an eight-person audience at a bar in Northampton, Mass. — will tape her first DVD, “Playmate of the Year,” in March, via an arrangement with the website kickstarter.com. In kindergarten, she was voted Playmate of the Year for her excellent skills in Chutes and Ladders and hide and seek.
Since its inception, Kung Pao’s audience has grown as much as the production. This year, organizers expect as many as 3,000 people of all faiths to attend the dinner and cocktail shows, eight in all.
IF YOU GO
Where: New Asia Restaurant, 772 Pacific Ave., San Francisco
When: 5 and 8:30 p.m. Thursday and Sunday, 6 and 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Tickets: $42 to $62
Contact: (415) 522-3737 or www.koshercomedy.com