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Matthew McMahan is the assistant director of the Center for Comedic Arts at Emerson College where he teaches the Evolution of Comedy I & II, Border-Crossing and Comedy, Performing Improv Comedy, Performing Sketch Comedy, and Why Did the Chicken: Fundamentals in Comedy Storytelling. He holds a PhD from Tufts University where he received the Kalman A. Burnim Prize for Scholarly Excellence in Drama. He is the author of Border-Crossing and Comedy at the Théâtre Italien, 1716-1723 (Palgrave-Macmillan) and has published research on vaudeville, clowning, jazz, and French farce in Nineteenth Century Theatre & Film, Theatre History Studies, The Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, The New England Theatre JournalThe Texas Theatre Journal, and HowlRound. Recently his article on two Parisian clowns, Foottit and Chocolat, was awarded an honorable mention for the Robert A. Schanke Research Award at the Mid-America Theatre Conference.

Matt is a professional dramaturg, who specializes in adaptation and comedy. He has worked for such theatre companies as the San Diego Repertory Theatre, the Atlantic Theatre Company, the Indiana Repertory Theatre, the Wooster Group, Chorus pro Musica, and the Boston-based movement company imaginary beasts.

He is also an active improv performer and coach. Most recently, he was a resident cast member at ImprovBoston as part of its longest-running long-form team, Neighbors. With this team, Matt has performed at the Del Close Marathon in New York, the We the People Improv Festival in Philadelphia, the Steel Stacks Improv Festival, the Union Comedy Festival in Somerville, and the Providence Improv Fest. He has led numerous workshops in applied improvisation at places like the Harvard University, Tufts University, Brandeis University, and the American Association for Law Librarians.



B.A., Olivet Nazarene University
M.F.A., State University of New York, Stony Brook
Ph.D., Tufts University


Border-Crossing and Comedy at the Théâtre Italien, 1716-1723


“Projections of Race at the Nouveau Cirque: The Clown Acts of Foottit and Chocolat.”


“New Plays in New Tongues: Bilingualism and Immigration at the New Italian Theatre in France.” Theatre History Studies 36 (2017): 128–147.


“Immigrants on Stage: The New Italian Theatre in Paris and Cross-Cultural Rapport.” In Hats Off, Gentlemen!: Changing Arts of Communication in the Eighteenth Century/Arts de communiquer au XVIIIe siècle. Edited by Penelope J. Corfield and Leonie Hannan.


“‘Let me see you dance’: Ada ‘Bricktop’ Smith, the Charleston, and Racial Commodification in Interwar France.” Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism 29, no. 2 (Spring 2015): 43–61.


“‘We are your masters’: Encroachment of the Other in Marivaux.” New England Theatre Journal 24 (2013): 79–93.


“Charles Mee, Bob Rauschenberg, and the Phenomenological Spirit.” The Texas Theatre Journal 10 (2014): 53–69.


“Elizabeth LeCompte in Rehearsal: An Intern’s Perspective.” Praxis: The Journal for Theatre, Performance and Criticism 1, no. 1 (2013): 1–9.


Creative Works

Resident Cast Member, ImprovBoston