Marc Engel

Moderator-Facilitator, Writer-Comedian.

Marketing Research & Human Insights,
Creative Problem-Solving using
Applied Improvisation.

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“Marc has an amazing gift to connect with people across boundaries (cultural, religious, age/life-stage), with empathy lying at the heart of it all. He transcends and deep dives into the essence of humanity, exploring complex issues through humor. He brings to life the things that connect us as people—it’s a perspective rooted in love and possibility.”
—Marta Villanueva, Chief Insights Officer, NuThinking, Inc.

(with inspiration from—and apologies to—INXS and Dylan)
Thank you, Jeff Shelton, for filming and editing this piece.

My passion is to connect and empower. I use humor and compassion to empathize with others, truly understand them, and link ideas not previously connected, drawing out insights and stimulating new ways of thinking. Whether advising clients or performing comedy, I help people gain fresh perspectives. 

About Me in 199 words

I began my careers in research and comedy while I was in college. (Reagan was still president.) My research roots are in quantitative, but I branched out into qualitative 20 years ago, and I’m a better researcher (and comedian) because of it. My comedy roots are in stand-up and writing, but I branched out into improv nearly 25 years ago, and I’m a better person and researcher (and better comedian) because of it. As a counter-balance to the fun and creativity, I’m also a member of the California Bar.

If academic pedigree were as prized as a canine’s, my degrees from Cornell and UCLA and year at Oxford might qualify me for the Westminster Kennel Club. But, my best education has come outside the classroom. The animating principle in my life is discovering and honoring the common humanity and dignity that reside within each of us. I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with, and performing for, thousands of people from all walks of life. I’m enriched by the diversity of perspectives I’ve heard, and I’m heartened whenever I witness the kindness and generosity of spirit that recognizes the shared needs, wants, values, fears and motivations that make us human.

2022 Annual Conference Featured Speaker
May 18, 2022 — San Diego

Humour Me: The Power of the Art of Living Your Best Life and Being Your Best Self Every Moment of Every Day (and Other Crocks)

This-once-in-a-lifetime talk from the world’s leading expert on everything promises to change your life from the inside out, top to bottom, soup to nuts, nuts to soup, thoroughly revolutionizing the way you look at the world and the way the world looks at you, upending everything you thought you knew about anything, giving you a whole new perspective on life and your role in it—at work, at play, in sex and love, your financial future and your sense of self-worth, your raison d’etre, joie de vivre, foie gras and je ne sais quois—making you the most incredible human being ever to walk the face of the Earth. Or it won’t. It’s up to you.

Winner, Maryanne Pflug Spirit Award
Co-Chair, San Francisco Chapter, Qualitative Research Consultants Association
Member, Inclusive Culture Committee
Applied Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Sub-Committee

Conference Speaker/Guest Presenter:

Co-presented ‘playshops’ with Pascal Patenaude at the worldwide conference (Vienna, Austria, 2016) and individual chapters on the value and utility of Applied Improvisational Thinking for qualitative researchers.

Co-presented with Dina Shulman, Annual Conference 2017 (Los Angeles) “Tapping into the Creative Storytelling Processes of Broadway and Hollywood”, exploring what researchers can learn from the mindset and approaches of writers, actors and directors.


Creative Education Foundation | Creative Education Foundation on my Computer

Co-Energizer with Pascal Patenaude,
Creative Problem Solving Institute 2021



About Applied Improvisation | Applied Improvisation Network


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On The One Hand, On The Other
My blog on perspective, often with a comedic twist.