Matthew McMahan is a performance scholar, dramaturg and comedian. At Emerson College, he teaches the Evolution of Comedy, Performing Improv Comedy, Performing Sketch Comedy, and Why Did the Chicken. His research focuses on the history and dynamic of internationalism in comedy: how comedy travels and how it is adapted and translated across national borders. His current book-length project, "Cultural Improvisations: Border-Crossing Comedy at the New Italian Theatre in France," studies an Early Modern example along these lines as it investigates an eighteenth-century troupe of commedia dell'arte actors who migrated to France and addressed issues of national identity, translation, adaptation, and improvisation in their comedy. He has published other articles on clowning, jazz, and French farce in HowlRound, Theatre History Studies, The Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, The New England Theatre Journal, and The Texas Theatre Journal. 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 also 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. Most recently, he collaborated with dramatist Herbert Siguenza on an adaptation of Molière set in Sinaloa, Mexico entitled Bad Hombres/Good Wives, which enjoyed its world premiere at the San Diego Repertory Theatre in October 2019. 

For the past three years, he has continued to perform 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 many workshops in applied improvisation at places like the Harvard University Chan School of Public Health, Harvard Law School, the Tufts University Gordon Institute, and Brandeis University. He also directs for the Boston Sketch Company, which has presented work at the Chicago Sketch Festival and the Women in Comedy Festival.


  • Visual & Media Arts
    Since 2016
  • Office Hours
    • TR 1:00–2:00 pm


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


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


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


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


“‘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.


“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.


Creative Works

Resident Cast Member, ImprovBoston