Kelly Branan, USANA
Larry King spoke at the USANA Health Sciences convention on Saturday.

Larry King, a comedian?

King surprised a crowd of 8,000-plus USANA Health Sciences worldwide affiliates at EnergySolutions Arena on Saturday with a visit — and a bit of comedy — during the company's 17th annual convention.

King also sat down with First Class MLM founder Tim Sales for an on-stage interview about the multilevel marketing business.

Why Larry King? Why USANA? And why comedy?

King has several ties to Utah. His wife, Shawn, is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and her family lives in the state.

"I married a Mormon and have paid for it ever since," said King, who was raised Jewish.

"The Mormon and Jewish cultures are a lot in common and not a lot in common," he said. "All Mormons are late. … No Jew has ever been late. Jews have missionaries that journey to Miami Beach, and LDS missionaries go around the world."

King said he hasn't yet met President Thomas S. Monson, but he expressed great admiration for the LDS Church leader's predecessor, President Gordon B. Hinckley, saying they were good friends.

The Kings have a home in Provo and visit every Thanksgiving and Christmas, he said. But that's not what brought King and his act to town this time around.

Sales was acquainted with Shawn King's brother, Paul, who's also involved in multilevel marketing, and asked if King would perform his comedy act for USANA affiliates.

The longtime host of CNN's "Larry King Live" got into the comedy game in May when his good friend and Las Vegas casino owner Steve Wynn challenged King to perform comedy at the Wynn.

King's comedy act consists of stories from his more than 40,000 interviews during his 50 years of broadcast journalism, as well as from his family relationships and life experiences.

"When people see me and Shawn, I know what they're thinking when they look at the two of us together," King, 75, said of his much younger, model/actress/country-singer wife. "But if she dies, she dies."

King told the Salt Lake City crowd about a time when he was a young radio broadcaster in Miami and was told by a mafia member named Boom-Boom that he was going to be their keynote speaker at one of their charity events.

King made sure he showed up, he said. After the event, the mafia members felt King did such a great job that they wanted to repay him. While escorting King to his car, Boom-Boom asked, "Got anybody you don't like?"

"I saved the life of the manager of Channel 4 that night," King said.

But what King really wanted to know from Sales and USANA founder Myron Wentz was about the "bad image" of multilevel marketing.

"I want more knowledge of it," said King, who says he was among the victims of Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme. "I'm expecting to learn a lot, and if I do a good job (during the interview), we'll all learn a lot."

Interview excerpts

Excerpts from Larry King's interview with Tim Sales:

King: "What is MLM?"

Sales: "MLM is deciding how a person is compensated. … Take one person to train, then train others and get more. You have to be able to get 10-20 customers and keep teaching."

King: "What are some of the problems in MLM?"

Sales: "Lack of training and focus on getting customers. … We need to get smarter, show them case law, offer better training.

King: "How does the industry welcome the Madoff scheme?"

Sales: "Well, we try to get Larry King on our stage."

King: "Is the biggest danger this business faces image?"

Sales: "Yes. … The media doesn't do enough research."

King: "How do you use USANA?"

Sales: "If USANA needs a hand, I'm here to help it."

King: "How do you choose a MLM company, and does USANA fit it?"

Sales: "What I look for first is (where) the company (is) going long-term. Two, does the product sell out of the network? Three, I want to be compensated well for my efforts. I want to make sure I'm paid well for my efforts. And four, after training, can the person do it?"