Penn & Teller: Bullshit! (2003) s08e05 Episode Script

Easy Money

I'm Penn Jillette.
Anyone out there need a job? It's season eight, and every year, Teller works as our naked body prep boy.
He has to check out every inch of every naked body rubs them down with oil, and checks the nipples are good and hard, all that sort of thing.
We start about noon, and the body prep takes about 10 minutes, but you get paid the full day rate.
That's about $1,500, depending on how much the naked people like you.
Well, Teller finally saved up enough money to buy that pony he always wanted-- Can't you even stop to answer the fucking phone? So now we have a job opening.
We'll even train you.
We supply the beautiful people and the oil, and there's always snacks around, usually pie.
Hello? Yeah.
Yep.
No, no, no, no.
Place--still available.
Yep.
You don't need a resume for this.
Nope.
Yep.
Right now.
Yeah.
Go to 154 Hopper Avenue, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Right, we do shoot in Vegas, but the end of the line is about 430 miles from here.
Hold on a sec.
That's because easy money is bullshit! "Easy Money" Today, more than 15 million Americans looking for easy money have turned to direct sales.
Be your own boss, schedule your own hours, and rake in unlimited earnings.
It sounds great.
And there are lots of multi-level marketing companies to help you achieve this dream.
Companies like Amway, Herbalife, and the mother of them all, Mary Kay.
The people at the top of these companies make millions, but do any of the stay-at-home salespeople find success? Or is multi-level marketing just a multi-level tower of bullshit? Tonight, we'll crash a couple of multi-level marketing sales parties-- A free beer, all-male barbecue hosted by a guy who says he can sell shit Chug, chug, chug, chug! while getting shit-faced.
Where else can you get paid to hang out with the guys? And a ladies-only soiree.
Hey, that doesn't look like tupperware.
It has seven speeds and functions, so you're going to get a lot of variety in this choice.
See his little bunny ears? We'll meet a fruit drink salesman who's juiced about his profit potential.
10% commission on 4,096 people is quite a bit of money.
And this guy who says multi-level marketing isn't a business at all.
If I'm cheating you out of your money, that's not a business.
Yep, tonight's show is going to be a meaty one.
You had me at free beer.
What the fuck are you talking about? This show is about multi-level marketing, and I can't say what that is? I can't use the simple word that describes it? Sorry-- Just because there'a product involved and not just cash, I can't use the term that every motherfucker in the word knows it by? That's correct.
Well, fuck you and the undefined geometric shape you rode in on.
Hey.
I'm the one that's going to have to defend - you two assholes.
- You do a fine job, too.
When it comes to multi-level marketing, one of the biggest companies out there is cosmetics giant Mary Kay.
In fact, its enormous success has inspired a number of other multi-level marketing companies, geared exclusively to women, to pop up all over the country.
Like here in Cincinnati.
Well, my name is Erin.
I'm going to be your Pure Romance consultant this evening.
Pure Romance.
What do you sell, like, chocolates and teddy bears? This is Tom.
He's our triple orgasm machine.
You're going to get an extra inch of thrusting power with Tom.
Finally.
Now when a woman says, "I need a little romance.
" I'll know exactly what she means-- Tom.
Pure Romance sells sexy products for women at living room parties like this one.
A little more depth during penetration? There she goes, ladies! Whoa.
I have this dream every night.
Here--Here's where I ring the doorbell, then they say, "We didn't order any pizza.
Oh, how will we pay for it?" Boom-chika-bow-bow, bika-bow-bow-bow, chika-bow-bow! Okay, now go ahead and lick it.
You can lick yourselves.
If you can lick it yourself, you don't need Tom.
So, Erin, how'd you get interested in, um, robotics? I was so drawn into Pure Romance for a lot of reasons.
I'm Erin Hoschouer, and I am a consultant with Pure Romance.
Consultant? That's a funny thing to call a sales rep.
We're more than just about selling product.
It's about helping women, you know, discover their true potential, whether that's within their relationship or, you know, within the business.
And to help women find their true potential, Pure Romance sells more than vibrators.
They offer lingerie, lotions, and flavored lubricants.
Susan B.
Anthony would be so proud.
Really.
Hold out two fingers.
I will show you how great this product is.
If vaginal dryness isn't a problem-- Can--can I finish that sentence? What do you mean we have to cut to something else? Raise your beverages! Fucking editor.
This is going to be a toast to being a man! Whoo! Awesome! To Man Cave! Yep-- what Pure Romance is for broads, Man Cave is for dudes.
- We can fart when we want - Yeah! As much as we want! - Hell yeah! - Awesome! Oh, fucking shoot me.
We left a room full of women licking themselves to come here? So, Man Cave law one.
No man shall ever turn down free beer, or 5, or 6, or 10.
A Man Cave meeting, spelled m-e-a-t-i-n-g, meating, typically starts with the advisor grilling up the meat.
I'm Eric Strader, and I'm a Man Cave advisor in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Advisor? That's a funny thing to call a sales rep.
You guys can help yourselves.
There's some toothpicks up here if you want to grab some samples.
The Man Cave product line includes 30 kinds of bratwurst, other meats, and a wide variety of grill accessories, presented with equal parts practical advice How do I cook a full slab of bacon at once? The Bacon Beast does it.
Sexual innuendo Just take your meat Yeah! And, of course, toilet humor.
Then you give that chicken a little bit of an enema and shove him right down on this.
So, how does the Man Cave meat-ing play to the wiener flapping crowd? Free beer and free meat.
Of course I'd come to the party.
You basically get to hang out with guys, talk about meat, eat meat, drink beer.
Wow! Between the grilled and battery-powered sausages, it seems Eric and Erin are going to make a killing.
This multi-level marketing is clearly a great business opportunity.
Right? Multi-level marketing is clearly the worst business opportunity out there.
Ohh, buzz kill! Robert Fitzpatrick, author, "False Profits.
" Fitzpatrick's website, Pyramidschemealert.
org, is devoted to exposing the bullshit of multi-level marketing.
Multi-level marketing is a pseudo-business.
It's smoke and mirrors.
It's a magic act.
In fact, the odds of success-- documented odds of success-- are worse than playing the roulette table in Las Vegas.
I was just thinking about social security.
Social security is a scheme started by politicians during the last Great Depression.
There's no merchandise involved.
It's just money.
The idea was to buy the support of older voters by giving them money taken from the younger ones, and telling the younger ones they'd get the same deal when they got old.
Any idiot can see that's unsustainable.
Sure, back when there were five young workers for each retiree, a lot of money rolled in.
There were even surpluses.
But the government didn't put those into some big savings account.
They fucking spent the money on other shit.
So, here in 2010, we're down to three workers for every retired person.
And this year, social security will be giving out more money than it takes in.
The whole social security pyramid is collapsing like something run by Bernie Madoff.
Oh, I'm sorry.
I got confused.
This show is not about pyramid schemes.
They're illegal.
To better understand what multi-level marketing is all about, we spent the day with this guy in Nashville, Tennessee.
I'm Rob Wynkoop, and I'm a network marketer.
Network marketer? That's a funny thing to call a sales rep.
I sell Zrii liquid nutrition products.
Zrii? Vouldn't vun or two be enough? Do vee really need Zrii? Zorry, I vas joking vith you.
Vat is in that? Basically, Zrii is a herbal fruit drink Uh-huh - It's got amalaki fruit - Right - Uh, shazandra berry - Okay.
Uh, tulsi leaf, which is a great antioxidant.
Tulsi leaf? You're fucking with us, right? The ingredients in Zrii are there to help people lower inflammation, help them sleep better, and--and overall improve the quality of their life.
And how much for this wonder juice? A one-month supply of Zrii for one person is $120 for 4 bottles of Zrii.
Man, you should be selling dildos.
At least then people know they're buying something that'll fuck 'em.
But hey, give us the pitch.
What makes Zrii so special? It's endorsed by Dr.
Deepak Chopra of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing.
Oh, fuck.
Zrii is a very good business opportunity.
It has one of the best compensation plans in the network marketing industry.
And you can make a lot of money with it.
We're going to try to help you, Rob, but you're going to have to stop drinking the Kool-Aid.
Hello, Zrii nation.
Rob Wynkoop here from the Zrii prosperity network.
I spend about probably between 10 and 12 hours a day on the phone, on the computer, trying to drive leads to my website and follow up with people, set appointments.
That's just a little tip for the day.
We'll check back in with Rob later.
We want to get back to that party with all those dicks.
No, no, not that one.
Yeah.
That one.
It's the Man Cave pop-up bottle opener.
This, I will declare, is the coolest product we have.
Boy, Eric seems pretty good at this.
Better than his bottle opener.
Granted, I'm very new.
I'm only five weeks into it.
But I do feel I've had a tremendous amount of success so far.
And how much success can a Man Cave advisor achieve? Let's ask Eric's boss.
Uh, really it depends on what their goal is.
Hi, I'm Chuck Fields, vice president of sales for Man Cave worldwide.
The outlook is fantastic because they see the growth every single month in their paycheck.
So what are the numbers? I think an advisor that has the typical turnout, which is anywhere from 12 to 15 people, is going to experience sales right around the 5 to 600-plus sales level at a meeting.
600 bucks? Sounds good.
So the advisor gets 600.
The advisor's going to make approximately 25%.
Oh.
I guess that's not terrible.
25% of $600? That's-- That's $150.
But there must be some expenses, right? Right.
Well, definitely, the most, you know, significant expense for an advisor is meat and refreshments.
Yep.
Man Cave advisors have to purchase all the sample meats and other products from Man Cave up front.
When you add in the gallons of beer and other crap it takes to put on these male bonding sales extravaganzas, costs can easily exceed $100, reducing the profit to a whopping 50 bucks.
And how much of that goes to cleaning the carpet? They don't offer you enough margin.
All the costs of your selling, you bear personally.
And those costs, no matter what multi-level company you work for, can be sizeable, especially when you add in how much you may have to pay just to become a consultant, advisor, network marketer-- Oh, can we--can we just say sales rep, please? If you're committed, and you understand our mission, and you understand why we do what we do, it would be a great company for you to work for.
Hi! Hi, my name is Chris Cicchinelli, and I'm the president of Pure Romance.
Hey, you must have those dildos with the extra inch of thrusting power.
Maybe you got an extra one lying around? We did come all this way, and With-- With extra batteries! Alkaline! So, Chris, how much do your consultants have to pay to join the Pure Romance sales team? Basically, when the consultant starts with us, she starts by buying her-- what we call her demos, which would be her business.
We recommend that you start out with a $500 kit, because that gives you a lot more products to show, a lot bigger offering to offer to the consumer.
My initial investment, I bought the $500 kit.
I purchased a $500 kit when I started, and that included a lot of promotional materials, DVDs, CDs, and uh, things to help grow my business.
Multi-level marketing companies make their money from the sales people.
They get them to buy inventory.
They get them to pay fees.
They make money many different ways, but always out of the same source-- the sales guy.
So, with such small profit margins and high upfront costs, is there any way a sales rep can actually make money? Our advisors can earn an income in two different ways.
The first way is by conducting meetings and selling products and making a profit margin on all sales.
Yeah.
That's about 50 bucks for calling all those guys, cooking all that food, then cleaning up.
So what's the second way? The second way is they can actually build a team of their own by recruiting other Man Cave advisors who are interested in the business opportunity and make a commission on all of 'em.
Yep.
Man Cave advisors like Eric try to talk their friends into joining Man Cave and making the same bad $100 beer and meat investment he just made.
Multi-level marketing is called direct selling, but very few people sell anything.
They recruit.
That is the basis for its income promise-- That you can recruit others, who recruit others, who recruit others, and all that money comes back to you.
The money comes back to you in the form of commissions.
Eric gets a percentage of every sale made by the Erics he recruited, and even the Erics they recruit, and so on, as emphasized in the Man Cave sales pitch.
Here's exactly how our opportunity works.
If an advisor brings in 15 people who each bring in 15 people, his team will now be 225 people strong.
If each of those members recruits 15 additional people, their team now grows to over 3,000 members.
So if I recruit someone who recruits someone who recruits another person, I gain commission on each one of those individuals, up to 7%.
Hey, wait a minute.
We want another look at this chart.
Hmm.
We thought so.
See, this level is fine.
One, then 15.
But hold on.
But you get to this level, and already it's fucked up.
This is 135 men.
It should be 225 men, like this.
And what the fuck is that? A fence? It should be, because by level 9, you have every man, woman, and child in the world-- plus 32 billion aliens-- All trying to sell each other bratwurst.
Back at Zrii prosperity network headquarters, Rob Wynkoop is in full recruiting mode.
Hello.
Justin, this is Rob calling from Nashville.
Hey, listen.
I've just got a minute, but I have you down as a person wanting to make some money from home.
I'm wondering, are you serious about making some money, or are you just playing around? Serious.
Fuck, that's some hardcore hard sell there.
It's almost like he's got a script Oh, wait.
Listen, Justin, if I could show you how to make an extra 4,000 a month and be able to travel some and be able to live a little more comfortably, would that be something you'd like to check out? Uh, yeah.
Wow! Justin hasn't hung up yet.
He's just the type of guy Rob's looking for.
How 'bout I take you out to lunch? Could you meet me somewhere? I'll buy you lunch.
- All right.
- This is great! Now we can see Rob pitch Justin face to face.
So, Rob, how many recruits have you signed up so far? Right now, I have a few people on my team.
I've got a mixed martial arts gym out in Texas, and, uh Oof.
Uh, hey, look at the time! You got to go meet Justin for lunch.
Zrii is the only product endorsed by Dr.
Deepak Chopra and the Chopra Center for Wellbeing.
I mean, that kind of endorsement is huge.
Dr.
Chopra is one of the highest paid public speakers in the world.
Chopra.
I fucking hate that platitudinous, faux physics, fruit drink fuck.
All right, Rob.
You're ready.
Now, it's off to that lunch meeting.
Go get 'em, tiger! Justin? Hey, Rob Wynkoop.
Thanks so much for coming.
- Nice to meet you.
- Oh, boy.
This is the moment Rob has worked so hard for.
He's studied, advertised, cold-called, and rehearsed.
It's now time to close the deal.
I'll tell you a little bit about what I do.
Basically, I'm a professional network marketer.
- Have you ever heard-- - Hi Hey, thanks God damn it! The waiter is screwing up the pitch.
Of all the times to bring the hummus! Mmm.
Hummus.
Quick, Rob, tell Kevin Pollack how he can get rich.
Through the power of duplication and the network marketing business model, say you would find two people that like to buy and use the product.
You get those two people to find another two people that want to buy and use the product, who find another two people.
If every person repeats, you know, this finding their two people, at the end of 12 months, you've got 4,096 people on your team.
And at that point, you're making, like, $32,000 a month.
Boy, it sounds pretty good when Rob lays it out like that.
A lot of misconceptions is that it's like a pyramid-- - D'oh! - It's not a pyramid at all.
I mean, pyramids don't have products.
Zrii is a legitimate company, just like any other.
Companies like Mary Kay, Amway, these are all billion dollar brands, and they didn't get to be billion dollar brands by being a pyramid scheme or a scam.
He's part right.
Zrii and all the other companies he mentioned do have products.
But are the products even relevant? Rob didn't even bring a bottle of his Deepak Chopra-approved fruit punch to the lunch meeting.
Too bad Justin just asked about it.
Don't focus so much on the product at the moment right now.
I just want to explain to you how you could run your own business.
The product itself becomes the vehicle for the money transfer.
So it looks like a sales company, it has a product, it has contracts.
It calls you a salesman.
In reality, it's merely an endless chain recruitment plan.
Well, how far are you right now? Like, you said, if you had two people and two people Uh-oh.
Right now, I'm pretty much at that beginning level.
I'll be honest with you.
I'm not out here making a million dollars a year.
Oh, boy.
You're in deep shit now.
Better pull out your secret weapon.
Have you ever heard of Dr.
Deepak Chopra? Please, dig in a little.
Uh, I think so.
- Who exactly is he again? - Um That went well.
Having a product involved is something we magicians call misdirection.
We show you an empty hat.
Yep, completely empty hat.
Oh, hello, Ariana.
Your skin looks terrific.
Oh, and bratwurst and a refreshing beverage.
Oh, wonderful, but we're working right now.
Would you just come back a little later? Wonderful.
Ahh, thank you.
Now, where were we? Mr.
-- Holy fuck! How did we do that? Multi-level marketing is sold not only as easy money, but as a chance for unlimited income.
I think a lot times, people look at opportunities that are huge, and they say, "Gosh, I wish I could've gotten in on the ground floor.
" And we feel like we're going to be a ground floor opportunity for years to come.
Chris, put a price tag on how much money somebody can make.
I can't really put a price tag on how much money somebody can make because it's all depending on how hard they want to work, how many hours they want to practice their craft.
Is he talking about the craft of roping friends into a bad business? You know what breaks our hearts? These are good people who believe in what they're doing.
I really hope Man Cave is a major source of income for me.
It would be excellent to pave my way to an early retirement, to get to that elusive six-figure income.
Eric, buddy, we need to talk straight.
How many sausage salesmen are you really going to recruit? Eventually, realistically, I would like to get to where I have a thousand or more advisors in my business.
Realistically, how many do you have now? I have currently two gentlemen on my team.
Right.
Um, Eric, about that.
I'm afraid Teller and I are going to have to back out.
There are no such things as unlimited opportunities.
The number of people are limited.
Markets are limited.
Of course they're limited.
How could something be unlimited? Is anyone hungry? If you have a big base of thousands of people at the bottom, they can't possibly all have hundreds and thousands below them.
Yeah! You had marked on your order form that you're maybe interested in learning a little bit more about becoming a consultant? Looks like Erin's got a new recruit.
How about Rob? You said you weren't working.
How much time could you devote to something like this? I'd like to know, obviously, a lot more about it before I Okay.
Ouch.
Oh, well, Rob.
Be sure to get a doggy bag for the hummus.
Okay, one more time.
And let's try to be really, really sincere.
Hi, nice to meet you.
Would you like some more dessert? We're Penn and Teller.
We're marketing advisors for an amazing, vibrating energy drink made of meat that softens those fine wrinkles around your eyes.
We'd like to help you build your own business by offering you the $500 prosperity package of fun, fun, fun.
Just invite all your friends over and abuse your relationship with them to get them to work for you.
You'll earn 20 cents for every nickel they make.
It's just good old fashioned American hard work and enterprise.
Have you heard of Deepak Chopra? You thought about what I said about Zrii? - Yes I have.
- I've been thinking-- - You been thinking about it? - I'm thinking really hard.
I'll let-- I'll let you know how I do with it, you know.
Maybe I can come in after you see - my success in it, so - Okay.
Rob, you've been selling Zrii for over nine months.
You've been making some money, haven't you? My net profit and loss is probably, um-- I've probably lost about 1,500 bucks.
Rob says he works 10 to 12 hours a day.
That means if he had a minimum wage job, he'd be up $15,000 instead of down 1,500.
Pie in the sky is the most expensive kind.
Millions of people are churning through multi-level marketing and failing.
They are told the day they come in that the system works 100%, if you work the system 100%, that the only reason you would not succeed in this miraculous program is personal.
If somebody's not successful with our company, we feel so strongly about our opportunity that maybe it's, you know, it's probably because they either didn't follow the program, they didn't follow through, or potentially, it just wasn't a good fit.
I may make a million dollars, or, um, I may fall flat on my face.
But it's not network marketing's fault.
It'll be my fault.
To those that believe they've failed personally, look at the system that you failed in.
It was set up.
You were set up.
You were supposed to fail.
That's the business.
Yep.
It's not consultant.
It's not advisor.
And it's not network marketer.
It's just victim.
So Teller and I hope we've convinced you that there's no such thing as easy money and that multi-level marketing can suck big time.
On the other hand, it would be awfully simplistic of us to tell you to get a job.
For one, it's hard to get a job in these tough economic times.
And who are we to tell you to get a job? We haven't worked a job in years.
We have our own TV show, and you could, too! You could have "Your-name-here and your-name-here Bullshit!" The $500 starter package includes an ampersand, two gray suits-- one size fits all-- "Penn's guide to obscenity and defamatory speech," and you'll also receive our exclusive contact list of people who like to be naked on TV, and 10 easy, non-controversial topics to get you started, like recycling, 9-11 conspiracy, and global warming.
All you need is a TV network, and there are hundreds of those.
So, send in those checks and roll out the welcome for prosperity.
You'll even get a percentage of all those people you persuade to do their own Bullshit show.
Trust us! You can build a career on bullshit.
And if it doesn't work, you can always fall back on social security.
So, Chris, we never got that dildo and-- Hey, what's that humming sound?