Chicago’s iconic Second City Comedy Club has a brand new offer to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. The Victor Wong Fellowship for AAPI Voices in Comedy will be a first-of-its-kind workshop funded by Peng Zhao, CEO of Citadel Securities, and his wife, Cherry Chen.
The Second City opened its doors in 1959 as a small comedy cabaret. It has since grown to become the world’s most influential name in improv comedy, boasting such prominent alumni as John Belushi, John Candy, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Chris Farley, Tina Fey, Keegan-Michael Key, Eugene Levy, and many more.
As per the news released by the Second City Comedy Club, the fellowship will annually provide 16 Fellows with a tuition-free master’s program in improvisational comedy.
The field of standup comedy and improv in America boasts a number of Indian-Americans ranging from established comedians like Hasan Minhaj, Hari Kondabolu, and Aziz Ansari to up-and-coming ones like Zarna Garg and Mona Shaikh.
The fellowship will begin this fall when 16 individuals will be selected from among the applicants. The fellows will receive ten weeks of training 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. At the end of the program the Fellows will present some original material as well as replays of past performances, the press release said.
“Beyond professional success on stage and screen, the skills of improvisation are a kind of super-power for life,” Parisa Jalili, COO of The Second City Comedy Club said in the press release. “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,” Jalili added.
“Comedy connects us by validating our shared experiences and opening our minds to new ones,” said Zhao and 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.”
Not competent enough to sit idle and stare as the world goes by, Pallavi is optimistic to a fault and believes in building her world on her own rather than depending on others to make things right.