The internet is absolutely chock full of gurus, consultants, mavens, and thought leaders who are more than eager to tell you exactly how they made some ungodly amount of money. . .
For the low low price $99 (that’s $500 off the regular asking price!), of course. 5 left!
This is not that kind of story.
The story I’m about to tell you is a peek behind their curtain, and all about how (if you do the math right) I made $9,000 an hour for a project.
Penn& Teller “Fool Us”
A couple years ago I had the absolute pleasure of working with the Penn&Teller crew for their show “Fool Us.” It’s a magic show where magicians try to fool P&T. If successful, the magician is awarded bragging rights in the magic community, and a big-ass trophy with an even bigger “FU” prominently featured on it, too.
Magicians & audience members see it as a contest of skill & a battle of wits between P&T and the contestant.
Really clever people realize P&T love magic with all their heart, and they figured out a dynamic for a show that will get people to watch. But, in reality, it’s a clever platform to share the work of some of the finest magicians in the world.
And they asked me to be on the show.
My segment was going to be 8 minutes. Even better? They were going to pay me $1,200+travel for the opportunity.
Like I said, P&T love magic and it shows. Most people would try to get you to show up for free. Not P&T.
If we take 60 minutes and divide by 8 you get 7.5. Multiply 7.5 by 1,200 and you get 9,000.
$9,000 for an hour’s worth of work.
But if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll notice I wasn’t working for an hour. I was working for 8 minutes.
Gold star for you.
What’s funny, however, is I was working for 4 days to make that 8 minutes look as good as it could possibly look. I flew in a couple days early. I talked with the producers. I talked with my props guy in Vegas. I talked with the show director. I talked with my creative consultant. I talked with wardrobe. I went to rehearsals.
I filmed B-Roll.
It was exhausting. Fun, but exhausting.
I wasn’t also getting paid to be in Vegas to film the show. I was getting paid to not be anywhere else in the world. Saying yes to the show meant having to say no to any other opportunity that happened at the same time.
I turned down a couple shows that pay better money for a single day’s work (instead of 4) that were in conflict with the show because I valued the opportunity to add a clip of me on a national TV show to my promo reel.
Numbers don’t lie, but people do. Any time someone’s bragging about how much money they’re making, you don’t know how much they’re actually making.
You don’t know how much it cost them to bring in that much money.
Who cares if you’re making $1,000,000 if it takes $3,000,000 to do it?
You don’t know what it’s costing their personal relationships. You don’t know what it’s costing their mental & physical health. You flat out don’t know.
All you see are the numbers, so be wary of people who shout the promise of an immediate payday that’s too good to be true.
It probably is.
Turns out, even though I went through the whole filming process my segment never made it to air. I got a very nice letter from the producers informing me that my segment wouldn’t be included in this year’s season, so won’t you please apply for next year.
And that’s a lesson all itself; it’s not done until it airs.
But, hey. I got to meet Alyson Hannigan!
(and I still got paid.)