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PERFORMANCE ANXIETY: Which Comedian Has the Limpest Website?


Comedians can be ruthlessly competitive. Who’s got their own sitcom named after them? Who’s starring in movies opposite Hollywood starlets and who’s playing second fiddle to General Gau’s chicken at the Chinese food buffet?

As viewers of any Comedy Central roast will attest, many of these yuksters will even compete to make each other cry.

Strangely, there’s one area where these entertainers are not so hypercompetitive. Using our recently released Benchmark Tool, we took a look at the websites of 10 of today’s edgiest voices in stand-up comedy and found that most of them should be feeling some major performance anxiety.

The Benchmark Tool takes a couple seconds to set up, and automatically collects a wealth of information over time, so is a good way to compare key web performance metrics for a bunch of sites.

Here?s a quick rundown on who we analyzed (and here’s a live link to the benchmark). Comedians are ranked in the order of their website speed:

  1. Todd Barry – Allegedly the original inspiration for Black Swan.
  2. Jim Gaffigan – Author of “”Dad is Fat,”” an insane memoir of the challenge of raising five young children.
  3. Mike Birbiglia – Creator of “”My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend.””
  4. Sarah Silverman* – “”Wearer of the $60 dress at the 2013 Emmys.
  5. John Hodgman – The PC guy in the Mac vs. PC commercials.
  6. Louis C.K. – Star of “”Louie”” on the FX network.
  7. Patton Oswalt – Voice of Remy the rat in Pixar’s “”Ratatouille.””
  8. Eugene Mirman – The #4 Eugene on Google behind the Oregon city, the Korean actress and WWE wrestler.
  9. Kurt Braunohler – Owns the world record for leading the most people in an all-meow sing-a-long of “”Lean on Me.””
  10. Leo Allen – Host of “”Whiplash,”” a weekly free live comedy show in NYC featuring “”a rotating cast of the world’s greatest comedians.””

* Before we jump into the raw numbers, let’s just acknowledge the asterisk next to Sarah Silverman, who does most of her communication through Twitter. Silverman does not have an official website, but her unofficial website is so comprehensive and up-to-the-minute that it is fair game to include her number one fan/webmaster in the mix.

Take a quick glance at the chart below. Areas shaded in green reflect a superior web performance (top 25% of all web sites). Yellow means needs improvement (middle 50%), while red means poor web performance (bottom 25%). The comedians are ranked in order of Time to Display, which is how long it takes for most of the visual elements of a webpage to appear.

The ranking results are almost identical in the second column, Time to Interact, which is the time it takes for the webpage to be fully functional (i.e. user can click on tabs or type in search windows).

Analyzing the Results

Once armed with data, we can identify – and fix – web performance problems.  Because the free benchmark tool captures every sample in precise detail, we can quickly inspect the waterfall chart to find the problems.

Imagine if you are in a comedy club and it takes up to 10 seconds from the time the comedian speaks into the microphone until the time you actually hear the joke. That is exactly what has been happening with Leo Allen’s website.

Awkward prolonged pauses are not funny on stage – and they’re not funny on Firefox, Safari or Explorer either.

Let?s visually take a look at how frustrating those delays can be (in this case, it takes 12 seconds before the main image on the page appears):

Visitors typically expect a website to load in two seconds or less. In the e-commerce world, every one second delay translates to a 3 percent loss of revenue per visitor, 7 percent fewer conversions and a 16 percent drop in customer satisfaction.

When shopping in the Eugene Mirman Online Store, would fans jump ship if they had to wait a few more seconds to buy a 2009 Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival Tote Bag with a Magic Grip Jar Opener? Because they just can’t buy the same vintage swag at the Mike Birbiglia Store, they’re probably willing to put up with the inconvenience.

But why risk annoying your fans? Why not give them the most hassle-free website experience, especially when a hefty amount of stand-up comedy material pokes fun at customer service problems?

To give the most enriching experience to their fans, comedians are now demanding more multimedia features and interactive content than ever. However, complex content takes longer to process. The more HTTP requests (when a web browser fetches a page or picture from the web server), the longer it will take the site to load.

The ideal is to consolidate the number of files and reduce the size of images. Boasting the two largest download sizes, Eugene Mirman (6.37 MB) and Kurt Braunohler (8.27 MB) are more than a dozen times heavier than svelte Todd Barry (433 KB) – and are considerably slower.

But getting back to Leo’s site: by looking at the waterfall chart, we can see which page assets are causing performance problems.  A closer look at one of the troubled samples reveals that his first asset, the HTML page, takes 3.44 seconds, 3-5 times longer than it should:

Something is likely wreaking havoc in the back-end infrastructure.  It appears that the server is frequently overloaded – perhaps it’s a shared server environment.

The Bigger Picture

These metrics are even more important for the entertainment networks and channels who promote comedians. Web optimization might not play any role in the joke writing process. But as every comic knows, when it comes to delivering content, timing is everything. It’s not just comedians who suffer from slow sites — other media and publishing sites are notoriously slow due the large amount of content (and 3rd party services) they serve up to their users.

As they say, “”sunlight is the best disinfectant.”” Knowing where the performance bottlenecks are lets a company tackle them and turn their site into a fast, engaging experience for their users. Tackling the performance problems is the subject of an upcoming post – stay tuned. In the meantime, if you want to benchmark your own site against your competitors, check out the eBook we wrote to help you do just that — 9 Tips for Benchmarking Your Web Performance.

(Benchmark your site against your competitors. Create a free Yottaa account now!)

Have Some Twitter Fun

Twitter Addresses:


Tweet This…

PERFORMANCE ANXIETY: Which Comedian Has the Limpest Website?
@ToddBarry, you don?t have to worry! (tweet this)

Is Size Everything? In terms of download sizes, @EugeneMirman and @KurtBraunohler are more than a dozen times bigger than @ToddBarry (tweet this)

@jimgaffigan Fat Dad? You?re actually super skinny (in download size) compared to @pattonoswalt (tweet this)

@leopoldallen Would you be jealous if you knew that @JimGaffigan was three times faster than you? (tweet this)

@EugeneMirman Awkward prolonged pauses are not funny on stage ? and they?re not funny on Firefox, Safari or Explorer either (tweet this)

PERFORMANCE ANXIETY: Which Comedian Has the Limpest Website?@LouisCK, don?t settle for being in the middle! (tweet this)

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