Amy Seham is a director, author, professor, and improvisor whose book, Whose Improv Is It, Anyway? Beyond Second City (2001) is a ground-breaking study of race, gender, and power in Chicago improv-comedy. Her writing on improv has been published in The Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies and in Radical Acts: Theatre and Pedagogies of Change. In the last 20 years, Seham has created improv workshops for social workers and professional actors in India, college students in China, and children in the Dominican Republic. She has offered classes at Second City in Toronto, Fringe Benefits in LA, and the Playwrights Center in Minneapolis taught for Funny Woman Festivals in Minneapolis and Chicago and given workshops for colleges and universities across the country. Her 2016 keynote address for the Mellon Foundation Series on Comedy and Gender at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, launched a new book project, Improv for the 21st. Century, to be published by Routledge in 2023.
Seham was a co-founder, director, and performer in Snazz ‘n’ Guffaw, an improv troupe that flourished in the late 1980s and early 1990s in New Haven, Connecticut. She earned a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where her dissertation on race and gender in improv drew on interviews, extensive research, and her own personal experience. She is recently retired after 24 years as a Professor of Theatre and Dance at Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota, where she taught directing, playwriting, and performance—with a focus on improvisation and theatre for social justice. She continues to enjoy participating in a wide range of advanced improv workshops available on Zoom and plans to offer workshops based on her new book beginning in 2023. Her brilliant daughter, Miranda, is a sophomore at USC.