Marc Engel

Moderator-Facilitator, Writer-Comedian.

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

Thank you for visiting my site!

“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 15 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 20 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.

Recent Events

Catch me if you can. Watch/read me if you missed!

Had the honor of leading a communications training “playshop” with staff using improvisation. First Graduate is a San Francisco-based not-for-profit that “helps students become the first in their families to graduate from college read to launch careers that are meaningful to them.”

August 24, 2018 (San Francisco)

Co-led a “playshop” with Pascal Patenaude on the value and utility of Applied Improvisational Thinking for qualitative researchers.

New England Chapter – March 23, 2018
Chicago Chapter – Nov. 3, 2017

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

So. California Chapter – June 16, 2017

Honored to return to my alma mater as Guest Lecturer in the Art+Science course (Design & Environmental Analysis 1200) on “The Art+Science of Humour.” (Why the British spelling of Humour? You’ll have to catch my next class!)

Cornell University – October 12, 2017 (Ithaca, NY)

Grateful to have moderated a track on “Startup Stories” and performed comedy, opening for Led Zappilin and Second City! You can watch the show here. (A lot of revelers networking in the background, so it’s a little hard to hear at times…but a great event!)

IIeX2017 – June 13, 2017 (Atlanta)


- October 27, 2020

Another powerful and hopeful short film by the wise Tiffany Shlain.
h J R

- June 25, 2020

Wonderful news, Tiffany! Outstanding recognition for a book that is so important these days.
h J R

- January 15, 2020

I’ve started flying with an invisible emotional support hyena so that I always have a seemingly empty seat next to me.
h J R

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