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Research & Comedy

Viket draws a parallel between conversion research and standup comedy.


Viket, a digital insights and website optimization expert at Mars Petcare, draws an intriguing parallel between research and comedy. With experience in both fields, Viket highlights how both endeavors aim to explain human behavior, albeit through different lenses. She outlines the similarities in their goals, processes, and the nature of the people involved. Viket emphasizes that both research and comedy involve a continuous feedback loop, where assumptions are tested, evaluated, and refined based on audience reactions. She encourages attendees to apply skills and perspectives from their hobbies and other activities to their professional work, suggesting that diverse experiences can enrich one's approach to research and experimentation.

Key Takeaways

  • Both research and comedy aim to explain and interpret human behavior, though research seeks factual understanding while comedy finds humor in associations and contrasts.
  • Researchers and comedians share traits like curiosity, empathy, analytical thinking, and a touch of eccentricity, which drive their pursuit of understanding and engaging with their audience.
  • Skills and perspectives from hobbies and personal interests, like comedy, can enhance professional work in research, offering fresh insights and approaches.


[00:00:00] Vipul: Hi, Viket. How are you? It seems that you are on mute. 

[00:00:16] Viket: Sorry. Hi, I’m good. How are you? 

[00:00:18] Vipul: Doing well. And I was told, you told me in the email that this is going to be a really, really fun presentation. I am looking forward to hearing this one and having a lot of laugh. So this session is going to be about research and comedy.

[00:00:35] And pay attention, guys. This is going to be a really fun presentation. So I will jump off the stage and after that I will start the timer and that’s when you can start with your presentation. All the best. 

[00:00:47] Viket: Thank you. Hi everyone. so I’m Viket and as you can see from the title, I have a quite bold statement here which is a research is basically comedy, but just using pretentious words.

[00:01:00] And hopefully you’ll see why I think that way. But before I get into it, just a warning that things are going to get weird if we were all in person, I had more time, I would have definitely made you guys get up and do even like weird comedy stuff. Today’s topic is going to be less informative than some of the other great presenters that we had, but hopefully will still be inspiring and we’ll make you look at research and experimentation from a different perspective.

[00:01:33] Before that, a bit about myself. I’m Viket, I’m based in Amsterdam. I have research experience in different fields. I studied in academic and moved to market research. I work in customer service data and now I work at Mars Petcare as part of the direct customers websites and I do the digital insights and website optimization.

[00:01:58] And during COVID time, I discovered, well, after COVID, I was like, how can I make new friends? What can I try? And I came across like an improv taster class and I was completely hooked. For those of you who don’t know, improv is basically a form of live theater, often comedy, where there’s people together come up with, like, start a scene and work from it.

[00:02:22] It’s all based on yes andings. Your scene partners tells you something you say yes to it and you add to it and build the scene from there. And from there on I also started doing stand up where which is you basically on a stage by yourself, try to make some jokes and really hope that people laugh at it. It’s terrifying but it also gave me the It just gives me so much joy.

[00:02:45] Well, that was a slide. So after one open mic, I’m like, you know what? I’m kind of like a comedian now. And as I’m going through my daytime work at Mars, aka also putting the office talks all the time, and doing stand up or improv at night, I realize that a lot of things that I’m doing actually during the day and during the night has a lot of similarities between them.

[00:03:07] And that’s what I wanted to talk to you guys about. The things that I’m going to talk actually more about, these are, I think, very important ones, that the comedy and research in experimentations are similar, which is the gold and the process that it takes, and also the people just both of these things, I think are very similar.

[00:03:27] So one of them that I want to say is an experiment, well, is the goal. The ultimate goal of both of them also is to explain the human behavior. The way that we do experimentation is that we try to discover facts to explain human behavior. It can be a group of people that comes to our websites and how they behave this way and why they behave this way.

[00:03:47] To increase conversion, bounce rate, just so we can understand our customer base, right? And in comedy, this is one of at least the leading theorists says that comedy is funny by making people see an association between, association between two different things to explain the world in a comedic way.

[00:04:09] Hopefully in experimentation, we want to get accurate reliability is very important, et cetera. Whereas in comedy, you can lie as much as you want. But this both tries to explain how humans behave. So, Matt is my comedy teacher. He was my comedy stand up teacher.

[00:04:30] And he is an expat also in the Netherlands. And he is trying to explain a very Dutch behavior in a comedic way. If there are any Dutchies or anyone living in the Netherlands here, hopefully you’ll relate to this as well. Just to give a background as well, in the Netherlands, people do not close their curtains.

[00:04:48] It’s just, you can see every window. He’s trying to explain why Dutch people don’t have curtains using another stereotype that is. They don’t like spending money. And I think the most striking one, the similarity is the process. I think both of them do rely very heavily on the feedback loop. So in research, let’s say the goal is to understand customers purchase drivers.

[00:05:14] So one of our websites, which is not a Sun is a sustainability driven cat litter. And for this example, where assumption was that, because it’s really about a long term sustainable product, and that’s what we’re really trying to aim for, sustainability is the main reason customers are buying, and that would be driving higher conversions. 

[00:05:35] And then there’s the planning time. Then we created hypothesis, and we started the A/B testing process and then testing. We went live with the test and the feedback that came up after the test, conversion rate dropped. From the way that we tested, by the way, is we tested different head, headline text, headlines.

[00:05:56] Different texts for it. And then we see that the conversion actually dropped. And we evaluated, oh, is it that because it’s so long lasting is the price increase that is affecting it, et cetera. So we tested back and forward and then we found that this title, which is ‘cat litter that lasts longer’ is actually causing increase in the conversion rate by a lot.

[00:06:15] So you have the goal assumption planet, you test it, evaluate it, and you go back to it. And it’s the loop that goes on and on. 

[00:06:23] In standup, let’s say in this case, it’s quite the same. So the goal is having a fun joke. Assumption is to find an association that you think is quite interesting. And you write a joke.

[00:06:39] And then the testing is basically having an open mic and you record it because you need to record it to understand your feedback, which is the laugh, but not just laugh, laugh comes in different forms. Is it a slow burn or is it like immediate laugh? How loud is it? You evaluate all of those insights you get, and then you evaluate, oh, if the joke works. Oh, it works.

[00:07:02] How can I make this? What worked about it? How can I improve it? If it didn’t, or sometimes you get some jokes that comes up in different places that you don’t expect.

[00:07:11] In this example, it was my first stand up, where people’s actually, I thought something, and I didn’t expect the joke yet, but then people started laughing, and then I could go back to the assumption and understand why that was and put that in my scene a bit better.

[00:07:33] And the last thing, the last similarity I want to mention is that I think researchers and comedians are quite similar in nature. We are highly motivated, I hope. You can touch yourself in the back. We’re both curious people. We’re trying to understand human behavior. So it’s quite important. It’s quite essential, I would say in CRO.

[00:07:54] And also in comedy that you need to be a curious person. You need to be empathetic. Again, comes with the same part. That you want to be able to put yourself in the shoes of the customers or the audience in the comedy sense. Analytic feedback loop requires to be analytic people. And also slightly weird. I don’t know about you guys, but I would say at least for myself that, you know, I agree.

[00:08:17] I would agree on that first part. And in the realization I have that I find quite interesting in that comedians tend to look at really serious things in a very funny way. If it’s done well, there’s no topic that is out of scope. You, they talk about racism, sexism, there’s so many different topics that comedians can actually touch upon.

[00:08:40] Whereas at times I think researchers can look at very funny things in a very serious way. Maybe CRO it’s less. But I would say in general in research, I’ve seen some, for example, research papers that were like, again, I’m sure they have their own purpose, but I’ve seen research papers about country music relate to suicides. 

[00:09:06] Chickens prefer to look at beautiful people. There’s a research paper about how what kind of people are more likely to have the belly button fluff and so on. 

[00:09:16] So I think it’s quite interesting that there’s so many overlaps and we kind of switched the serious topics and funny. So what, why am I talking about this?

[00:09:31] And as we would say in improv, yes. And the reason I wanted to bring this up is that. I don’t think I found miraculous similarities between research and comedy because they are so innately linked to each other. I think the reason I found those links is because experimentation and general research requires a lot of skills and a lot of perspectives and a lot of behaviors that is so innate each of our daily life.

[00:10:00] So I would really encourage everyone to look at whatever hobby that you’re doing, whatever things that you’re doing at work, or outside your work time, how you might be using your research skills there and how your other hobbies versus gardening, et cetera, might be contributing to your other work, because I would definitely say that doing studying, doing comedy has helped me a lot in terms of the way I see my research, the way I do my work and do my presentations and likewise, I think being a researcher really helped my early on comedy career. 

[00:10:37] Thank you so much. That’s all I have to say. 

[00:10:40] Divyansh: That was a very interesting parallel. And for sure, it is a refresher from all the numbers, charts, diagrams that we are so used to. Thank you so much for an awesome session.

[00:10:53] Floor is up for questions. If you’ve got any joke to tell, probably, we’ll love our attendees to be there. Thank you so much, Viket. Please feel free to engage in chat. If there’s any questions, our audience can speak with you there. 


Viket Peres

Viket Peres

D2C Customer Journey Manager, Europe, Mars

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