Standing Up: From Renegade Professor to Middle-Aged Performer


From Renegade Professor to Middle-Aged Performer

Taiwan-born Ada Cheng had achieved the American dream:U.S. citizenship, a tenured faculty position as a sociology professor, and a following of students who adored her.

But by midlife, she was tired of struggling against both subtle and overt gender and racial discrimination and battling conservative academia. Driven by instinct and whim, Ada enrolled in an improvisation class at Chicago’s acclaimed Second City, and found a new second act for herself as a storyteller, stand-up comedian, and improv comic.

In Standing Up, Ada inspires readers to follow their passions and listen to their hearts no matter what their age or obstacles to overcome.

students laugh and smile | Standing Up by Chicago-based Taiwanese Storyteller Dr. Ada Cheng


  • Are tired of working for the paycheck and not your passion.
  • Believe there’s something more for you than what you’re allowing yourself to experience.
  • Are ready to take a chance on yourself and leap into your second act.

Ada Cheng is a fearless storyteller, unafraid to look deeply into herself and share what she finds with all of us. She is a risk taker of the highest caliber, both on the stage and out in the world. Ada inspires not just with her words, but the manner in which she lives her life.

— Scott Whitehair
Storyteller, Producer of This Much Is True
Teacher/founder at Story Lab Chicago

Ada provides a perspective not only about life, making changes, and being brave, but an important insight into our education system and what has gone awry.

— Archy Jamjun
Storyteller and fiction/short story writer