Matthew McMahan is the assistant professor of comedic studies in the Department of Performing Arts and the BFA in Comedic Arts. The author of Border-Crossing and Comedy at the Théâtre Italien, 1716-1723 (Palgrave Macmillan), Matthew has also published research on vaudeville, clowning, jazz, and French farce in Theatre Survey, Nineteenth Century Theatre & Film, Theatre History Studies, The Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, The New England Theatre Journal, The Texas Theatre Journal, and HowlRound. 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.
He is currently working on two book projects: a documentary history of clown acts dating back to the eighteenth century entitled Clowns and Clowning in the Circus and Allied Arts (under contract with Routledge) and a monograph called Funny Moves: Migration and Comedy in the Twenty-First Century. For the last four years, Matthew has spearheaded the comedy studies working group at the American Society for Theatre Research. In the Fall of 2023, alongside a team of comedy scholars from institutions across the U.S., he is convening the Comedy and Embodiment Symposium at MIT as well as editing a special issue of Theatre Topics on the same theme.
Matthew is a professional dramaturg, who specializes in adaptation and new works. 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. Additionally, he is an active improv performer and coach. He has performed at Union Comedy, ImprovBoston, 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. Matthew leads numerous workshops in applied improvisation at places like Harvard University, Tufts University, Brandeis University, and the American Association for Law Librarians.