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The Second City Launches Victor Wong Fellowship for AAPI Voices in Comedy


CHICAGOMay 2, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Legendary Chicago comedy institution The Second City is proud to announce the creation of The Victor Wong Fellowship, a program to train and mentor up-and-coming comedians. Named after The Second City’s first Asian American performer and funded by Peng Zhao, CEO of Citadel Securities, and his wife, Cherry Chen, the fellowship will focus on developing the next generation of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) talent.

Beginning this fall, 16 fellows a year will be selected through auditions and granted a ten-week, tuition-free master program in improvisational comedy taught by The Second City’s top professional instructors and directors. The fellows will also have access to the theater’s executive creative team and alumni, including AAPI mentors. Following the training, the fellows will present a mix of their original comedy, improvisational games, and classic scenes from The Second City archives in a showcase event on a Second City stage in Chicago.

“Beyond professional success on stage and screen, the skills of improvisation are a kind of super-power for life,” said Parisa Jalili, COO of The Second City.  “We are thrilled that this gift will allow us to train emerging AAPI talent to both hone their comedy skills as well as their skills to be deeply collaborative, resilient, and creative individuals.”

“Comedy connects us by validating our shared experiences and opening our minds to new ones,” said Mr. Zhao and Ms. Chen. “Further diversifying the comedic community will help move this important medium—and the society it serves—forward. We are excited to help bring the unique perspectives of AAPI talent to the stage.”

The Victor Wong Fellowship is the first program by a major comedy theater to exclusively endow AAPI talent. The Second City has also been home to the NBC-backed Bob Curry Fellowship since 2014, which annually grants performers from varying diverse multicultural backgrounds a tuition-free master program.

The Victor Wong Fellowship builds on Mr. Zhao and Ms. Chen’s longstanding commitment to accelerating opportunity and prosperity for the 23 million members of the AAPI community in the United States. Mr. Zhao is a founding board member of The Asian American Foundation (TAAF), which has become a catalyzing force for improving AAPI advocacy, power, and representation across American society. Mr. Zhao and Ms. Chen have convened and funded a variety of other initiatives focused on supporting Chicago and the AAPI community, including most recently The Peng Zhao and Cherry Chen Fund for AAPI Voices in partnership with Kartemquin Films.

Auditions for the inaugural Victor Wong Fellowship will be held in August 2022.

About Victor Wong

California native Victor Wong (1927-2001), moved to Chicago in the 1950s to study theology at the University of Chicago before becoming involved with The Second City. Mr. Wong joined The Second City at the encouragement of his close friend and famed theater academic, Viola Spolin. A fixture in the San Francisco Beat Scene of the 1950s and ’60s alongside Jack Kerouc and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Mr. Wong’s acting credits included notable roles in the films “The Joy Luck Club,” “The Last Emperor,” “Big Trouble in Little China,” “The Three Ninjas” series, and “The Golden Child.”


The Faculty Lounge with Mo & Law: Episode 2

Mo Phillips-Spotts & Law Tarello are Faculty Members at the world renowned Comedic Performing Arts Training Center – The Second City.

In each episode of The Faculty Lounge Podcast, they’ll introduce you to a new colleague of theirs as they share classroom stories, teaching exercises, professional histories, career advice, and whole lotta laughs.

On this episode of The Faculty lounge, we bump into Ayaka Kinugawa, Musical Director for Second City Toronto. We chat about her path from Japan to Toronto, bringing life experiences to your improv and letting go of fear of failure.

Ayaka is a Japanese musician based in Toronto who is actively involved in the comedy scene. She is a musical director at the Second City and performs improv and sketch comedy on stage and on the Internet. Ayaka loves tomatoes!

To sign up for a Second City class, click here.  To listen on Simplecast, click here.

Instagram: @ayaka.kinugawa

F**k Song – (it’s R rated!)

For more Mo: Instagram.com/MoprovChi

For more Law: Instagram.com/ImprovLaw


The Second City Hollywood’s 2018 Class Catalog Is Here!

Make 2018 the year you find your funny!

Whether you’re interested in meeting new people, trying something new, or forging ahead on your creative career path, The Second City Training Center has the perfect class for all ages. Explore our offerings in this handy-dandy digital version of our 2018 Hollywood course catalog.

Got questions about classes? Give us a call at (323) 464-8542, or email us at training.la@secondcity.com.

And check out what we offer at our Training Centers in Chicago, Toronto, and online.


Test Classroom Post Blog

Since 1886, the Statue of Liberty has been a symbol of America’s identity as a nation of immigrants. A place where refugees fleeing persecution or striving for a better life could come and live freely. Yet, as Donald Trump fights the courts to pass his immigration ban, our status as a sanctuary nation becomes as precarious as the future of “The Apprentice.”

However, America is a place of second chances. A nation where a bankrupt reality star can become president, so why can’t Lady Liberty reinvent herself?  If she won’t be welcoming those huddled masses yearning to breathe free, she’ll need new ways to fill her time. Here are 6 new uses for the Statue of Liberty, should the immigration ban become the law–and attitude–of the land.

A beam in the US-Mexico wall

The Department of Homeland Security estimates that the border wall will cost about $21.6 billion, almost twice the $12 billion price tag Trump touted during the campaign.  The government can save a ton by repurposing Lady Liberty into a wall beam while dealing a heavy dose of irony to those trying to cross the border.

Melt her down into 12 million copper pennies

That comes out to about $120,000, which Trump can put toward the aforementioned wall. Or buy 4,000 Ivanka Trump blouses from the clearance rack at T.J. Maxx.

Stand-in for Melania at state events

Melania has been somewhat amiss in upholding traditional First Lady duties, like scheduling White House tours and the Easter Egg Roll. Let Lady Liberty take over!  Since her mouth is welded shut, she’ll be the one member of Trump’s team who is literally unable to say anything stupid on camera.

Ninth Supreme Court Justice

Not only will she get more Democratic support than Gorsuch, she’s already got a robe!

Hold up the Oroville Dam

We have some dire infrastructure needs that are long overdue, and until we have a long-term, salient plan in place, someone needs to step up and support that eroding spillway, since there’s no guarantee California Governor Jerry Brown can count on getting emergency assistance from the White House.

A gift for Vladimir Putin

Because Trump hasn’t fully reciprocated Putin’s gift: handing him the U.S. election.


Liz Reuss is a Chicago-based writer and actor.  Follow her @liz_reuss.


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