Manga / Laughing Salesman

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"My name is Moguro Fukuzou. People call me 'The Laughing Salesman'. However, I'm no ordinary salesman, because I'm in the soul business. Human souls, that is."

"Everyone, whatever they be men, women, child or elderly, have a hole in their hearts they desire to fill..."

The Laughing Salesman (Warau Salesman) is a Black Comedy Psychological Horror manga by duo Fujiko Fujio, and later, Fujiko Fujio A. It's story is about Moguro Fukuzou, an ever smiling salesman who's job is to help people out with any desire they want. In reality he ruins said people's lives the moment they betray or deny his help.

The manga ran in Big Comic Manga Sunday between 1968 to 1971. The first animated series ran between October of 1989 through March of 1992, as well as a game for the Sega CD in Japan that consists of three episodes from the show. A second anime, called Laughing Salesmen NEW, with a Setting Update, started running in the Spring 2017 Anime broadcasting season. It is available for worldwide streaming on Crunchyroll here.


Tropes:

  • The Ace: Moguro seems to be really good at everything.
  • Adult Fear: Many episodes deal with mudane things the average person fears (losing a job, losing a spouse or loved one, getting arrested, etc.)
  • Acrofatic: Downplayed. Moguro isn't super huge, nor will you see him jump around and perform parkour, but for a stout guy with short, little legs, he can run much faster and with much more ease than you would expect. NEW implies that he runs for exercise on a regular basis.
  • Affably Evil: Moguro is always cheerful and friendly, even when he's screwing his clients over.
  • All for Nothing: This will typically be the results of most of Moguro's customers' goals or dreams. Either Moguro will undo it or they'll undo it to themselves for not listening to him.
  • Ambiguously Human: Just what is Moguro? He looks like an ordinary, if odd, person, but he's able to do things and has abilities that no human should...
  • Badass Mustache: Episode 8B of NEW has Moguro give a meek taxi driver one, to help bolster his confidence. Then it goes to his head, becomes a full on villain mustache and he goes flipping nuts.
    • Subverted in the end. He gets arrested trying to help out a pair of bank robbers make it to their boat. Both his hair and personality turn back to normal and his now extremely long mustache droops down to his chest, making him look even more meek and pathetic. Moguro thinks he'll be cleared of any charges (i.e. he was a hostage forced into being an impromptu getaway driver) but he doubts the taxi driver will ever be confident again.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Not that you have a chance to refuse, he will always screw you over.
  • Becoming the Mask: In the sixth episode of the Laughing Salesman New series, Moguro places a mask on Udo Taizo in order for him to be scary and to attract potential customers. When he betrays Moguro, Moguro causes the mask to be stuck to his face, essentially turning him into the scary monster the mask portrayed.
  • Big Eater: It's not played up as much as his impressive drinking abilities, but Moguro does have quite the appetite at times in NEW. Episode 10 has a blink and you miss it moment of his back to the viewer and a very large meal in front of him. Other moments include eating three ice creams in one sitting and eating two lunches meant for someone else.
  • Book Ends: In the original anime, the episode would begin with Moguro facing the viewer and walking towards them, introducing both himself and the show's plot. At the end of the episode, he is walking away from the viewer with his back turned to him, making a comment on the events and/or conclusion of said episode.
  • Berserk Button: While his face doesn't express how he truly feels, he really doesn't like it when his customers ignore his warnings or try to exploit his services.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: Assuming Moguro isn't just plain evil, albeit a very friendly form, he is most certainly operating by a different set of standards than most people.
  • Break the Haughty: Moguro really doesn't like it when his customers start getting cocky from his help. When they do get cocky, he makes sure they suffer.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: He is always smiling that unnatural smile that shows his full set of chompers.
  • Cruel Twist Ending: Most of the story will end like this with Moguro's customers and/or their colleague suffering from his handy work.
  • Deal with the Devil: Some of Moguro's conditions are so reasonable, you'll wonder why anyone would ever break them in the first place. Others... much less so. That's when they fall into this trope.
  • Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: Downplayed. Moguro is more of a Humanoid Abomination than an Eldritch Abomination, but this trope is still in effect since he's genuinely friendly (despite his intentions) and he'll often treat clients to a meal or some drinks before offering them his services. Just don't make the mistake of treating him to drinks. Chances are, he'll drink you under the table and then leave you with the bill.
  • Dirty Old Man: One episode of the original run had Moguro corrupt an elderly gentleman into becoming one of these. Despite this, the episode was overall one of the more light-hearted ones.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Moguro's disapproval and disappointment when some of his clients breaks a promise, a deal, or just his trust is understandable, especially in cases where his help actually does make his client's life better. But when he strikes back, he usually goes overboard.
  • Drink Order: Alcohol, and lots of it.
  • Driven to Madness: Happens to many of Moguro's clients. Sometimes it's because they get too obsessed with whatever he gave them, sometimes it's the effect of him DONing them, and sometimes it's a mix of both.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Mr. Uranari isn't a very good driver and was still in the middle of trying to earn his driver's license when he caught Moguro's attention. After getting him nice and drunk, Moguro "encourages" Uranari to engage in a reckless joyride with a stolen big rig truck, resulting in several traffic accidents, enormous amounts of property damage, and his own arrest by gunpoint.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Moguro's skin is notably several shades lighter than most other characters.
  • Engrish: In Episode 7B of NEW, Oniyo, the Alpha Bitch leader of Nozomi’s group of “mommy” friends, announces that she’ll be attending her belly-dancing lessons (even showing off a quick hip-shake) after sharing her recent accomplishments with her complaints. However, the voice actor actually states “berry dancu” instead of its proper Japanese equivalent.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Moguro seemed to be genuinely distressed when it almost looked like Deyashiro was contemplating suicide via drowning (he was actually just admiring the view). Moguro tried to grab hold of him to keep him from falling and was visibly relieved when he "saved" him. He also won't let potential clients get injured... at least not until he can set them up properly.
    • Episode 7A of NEW shows even Moguro can feel regret, as he opines briefly how he ruined a happily married man's life out of boredom.
  • Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: Moguro finds humor in what most people would think is tragic.
  • Evil Laugh: They don't call him "The Laughing Salesman" for nothing.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: But only when voiced by Toru Ohira. By contrast, Tessho Genda gives a more whimsical performance with a higher, but still masculine, pitch.
  • Fan Disservice: It's only for a few seconds, but in NEW, you can see Moguro's pasty white ass when he gets out of a hot spring.
  • The Gambling Addict: Several of Moguro's customers have this problem and he takes advantage of it.
    • In Episode 10 of the original, Moguro helps a college student named Nakayama, who gambles a lot on horse races but has bad luck. Moguro helps him by telling him to which horse to gamble on and he's always correct. When Nakayama asks Moguro to help him one last time, Moguro agrees on the condition that he agrees to quit gambling afterward. When Nakayama brags to his friend on how he'll never lose with Moguro's help and agrees to gamble for a gangster, Moguro saw the whole thing and decides to screw over Nakayama by not showing up until Nakayama bets all the money while he waits for him to come.
  • "Gift of the Magi" Plot: "Tonight's Another Awesome Night" in Episode 6B of NEW ends with a variant on this. Having thought his girlfriend was leaving him because of his night-owl ways, Doraki begs Moguro to give him another chance and "make him a real morning person." Moguro agrees... and Doraki's girlfriend arrives, dolled up for her new nighttime job at a hostess club, just after he lights the incense for presumably the final time.
  • Giving Someone the Pointer Finger: Moguro occasionally does this. You do NOT want this to happen, since chances are that he is pissed at you.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Most of the time, it's usually Moguro's client's fault that they get punished by him. Sure, Moguro may have started the whole thing but he gave his clients a simple warning that's easy to follow, but his customers always tend to ignore it. Sometimes the clients will screw up so badly that Moguro doesn't even have to "DON" them to punish them because they already created their punishment by themselves.
    Moguro: You never know when the sparks that you helped create will cause a fire and blow back in your direction. If you're already facing into the wind, it's too late.
  • Housewife: If one of his female clients isn't already employed at the start of the episode, they tend to be one of these. They also tend to ruin their marriages by the end of the episode, too.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Moguro is something. But it's most assuredly not human.
    • The new anime series really highlights this in an up close shot of him laughing. The inside of his mouth is filled with even more tiny mouths!
    • Another shot in NEW doesn't have the little mouths, but his mouth does appear far deeper and more cavernous than what should be physically possible...
  • The Hyena: Downplayed. Moguro isn't Laughing Mad or a Giggling Villain, but he can and will laugh at any situation.
  • It Amused Me: Moguro's driving motivation in whatever he does.
    • Outright says this in the A story for episode 7A of NEW. He only picks his latest victim cause he was passing by, and was feeling playful.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Oite Kazuhito quickly forms one of these with his much younger co-worker at his new job.
  • Ironic Hell: Moguro's favored method of punishment. In particular, when the client's mistake is overusing what he gave them or returning to their old habits, they'll either end up with the same hole in their hearts as when they started, or be rendered madly obsessed with their new lifestyle.
  • I Warned You: Bad things will happen if you break a promise to Moguro or do not heed his warnings... not that anyone actually listens...
  • Jerkass Genie: He will give you what you want, but will still screw you over in the end, even if you refuse his help. Especially when you refuse his help.
  • Karma Houdini: Moguro always gets away with screwing over his customers and never suffers any consequences.
  • Kick the Dog: Moguro just loves doing this to all of his customers regardless of who they are.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Arguably, some of Moguro's victims were just getting what was coming to them eventually.
  • Kubrick Stare: Depending on the position of his head, Moguro is prone to this trope at times. See the page image above.
  • The Last of These Is Not Like the Others:
    • When introducing himself as a "friends salesman", he mentions that the world is full of "Depressed elderly people, depressed women, depressed young men, depressed children, depressed dogs, cats, and ladles."
    • In Episode 12B of NEW, the very last episode, in fact, Moguro doesn't even deliver an ending monologue as he boards a flight to Honolulu. He just gets on his plane and lets out his Signature Laugh as the plane takes off. Also, when the title card appears in every episode, he would do his usual laugh, but the final episode has him do a different variation of his laugh.
  • Leitmotif:
    • A slow number set to the tune of an oboe, a violin, and what sounds like an accordian. Plays at both the beginning and end of an episode.
    • The moment you hear intense, scary violin music playing you know that Moguro is going to punish someone.
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to the original, NEW appears to be this as it hardly has any smoking, Fanservice is toned down, and gambling is completely absent.
    • Moguro himself is this in NEW. He has a lot more Pet the Dog moments compared to the original and seems to genuinely want to help people, though he still finds them screwing themselves over hilarious.
  • Literal Genie: He uses Exact Words a lot.
    • For instance, one story in NEW is about a shopaholic woman whom he gives a credit card that she has to never pay; in exchange, all the things she buys becomes repossessed the next day. Then she uses it to get a spa day to make her look younger and fitter, and the next day she wakes up old and flabby.
  • Living Lie Detector: It is impossible to lie to Moguro. He will either know what you are really thinking or want in life or if he's lied to, he will sometimes "accept" the answer he's given since his client has either already screwed themselves or broken their promise. Either way, it's evident he always knows the truth.
  • Living Prop: The bartender at "Demon's Nest". He never speaks and characters rarely talk to him or even pay attention to him. But he does sometimes observe the business that goes on between Moguro and his customers.
  • Local Hangout: Whether it's to talk to new clients or just to enjoy a drink or two, Moguro can often be found at his favorite bar, appropriately named "Demon's Nest".
  • Love Makes You Dumb: This is one of the reasons why Moguro's customers tend to ignore his warnings. When his customers meet somebody attractive, they will forget about Moguro's warning or they will try to exploit Moguro's services to try to get close to their crush.
  • Meaningful Name: Many characters are named like this. For example, Moguro Fukuzou can be translated to "Black Mourning, Fortune and Misfortune".
  • Mistaken for Pedophile: In the second half of Episode 7B of NEW, Moguro is in the park and he performs some magic tricks for the kids when one of the kids' ball rolls over toward him. Despite there being an adult watching Moguro performing his magic tricks with the kids, one of the mothers was actually going to call the police on him for being near their kids. And Moguro's constant smiling doesn't exactly make him look innocent.
  • Morton's Fork: Accept his help? You will eventually do something to betray his expectations or worst, deny he had anything to do with your success. Refuse his help? He will screw you over anyway.
  • My Beloved Smother: Amae's mother in Episode 3A of NEW stakes her identity on babying him, including making him bento boxes every morning. His problem is that he much prefers the ones his girlfriend Kimiko makes, but doesn't dare break her heart by admitting that.
  • My Card: Moguro will almost always without fail give his intended victim his business card, which reads, "Moguro Fukuzou. 'I will fill your empty soul'."
  • Never Gets Drunk: It would be an understatement to say that Moguro is really good at holding his liquor. The amount of alcohol needed to make him a little tipsy is enough to give most people borderline alcohol poisoning.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: The mere fact that Moguro finds humor in the atrocities that follow in his wake lands him in this territory. In the ending monologue of Episode 8A of NEW, he actually finds the concept of Yandere love romantic and hope he himself gets to experience that someday!
  • No Name Given: No name has been given to the bartender of "Demon's Nest". Not even in the Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep" sense.
  • No-Sell: Zig-zagged. Moguro has been hit by a metal golf club at least twice on two separate occasions and got up without a scratch. But accidentally kick a rock on his forehead and he'll bleed enough to require first aid. In NEW, a simple (accidental) punch gave him a swollen black eye, bloody nose, and a bleeding cut on his forehead. It seems that the more mundane and natural the strike, the more damaged he gets. However, he recovers very quickly, sometimes almost after the next scene or two.
  • Nonstandard Character Design: Even within the cartoonish art style, Moguro still stands out among other characters, with his thin red lips, large head, pale skin, stout body, and his never-changing facial expression. This, of course, makes him even more unsettling.
    • Occasionally, other characters will be drawn a little more like modern anime characters (sharper chins, more detailed eyes, etc.) in order to distinguish them as more "attractive" compared to more ordinary, plain-looking people.
  • No Sense of Personal Space: Moguro LOVES to get close and personal to his clients. Really close.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Moguro seems to be capable of this. One notable occurrence of this happens in the second episode of original anime run. It just so happens that the victim had his eyes on Moguro the entire time when he suddenly appeared sitting next to him in the next shot.
  • Offscreen Villain Dark Matter: Just where does Moguro get the resources to "help" his clients? Both the original anime and NEW does show him earning money through legitimate transactions on a freelance basis, but not nearly enough to cover all expenses. Then again, he's also able to simply do things that define rational explanations as well...
  • Once per Episode: In every episode, Moguro will narrate the beginning that everyone has something they need while his customer is being introduced and the episode ends with Moguro making a quip about his customer's predicament and laughs.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Believe it or not, Moguro is capable of this. For example, one episode had him helped a college student win back the money he lost that day at the horse races (in fact, he literally called it "Community service") and another one had him help an office worker by giving him a much-needed makeover. Both times were free with no strings attached. However, the college student screwed himself by begging Moguro for additional help beyond Moguro's initial generosity and the other tried to fool around behind his new girlfriend's back. Sometimes Moguro's clients will earn their own misfortune even when he's being more than fair.
    • In Episode 7B of NEW, when some kids are playing with a ball in park and the ball rolls towards Moguro, he takes the ball and performs some magic tricks with it for the kids. He even made more balls appear so all the kids can have one.
    • In Episode 8A of NEW, Moguro takes Bandai to an old-fashioned bathhouse with his ideal landscape painting for seemingly no other reason than the two bonded over their mutual love of bathhouses and they had fun drinking together the night before. Moguro asked nothing in return and simply said that it'll be best to avoid going back to the same bathhouse again. Of course, then Bandai begs to go one more time...
    • In Episode 11B of NEW, when Ari ignores Moguro's warning and puts her daughter in danger in the middle of traffic, she gets on her hands and knees and begs Moguro to save her. When an oncoming truck heads towards her daughter, Ari tries to save her but Moguro jumps in and saves them both by DONing them and the truck. And for Ari's punishment, Moguro influences Ari to audition to become an idol to fulfill her dream after she learns her lesson, which compared to the previous customers' punishments, isn't that bad.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Despite the bartender of "Demon's Nest" being a Living Prop, he's featured in the opening of NEW.
  • Reality Ensues: In one episode, Moguro helps a housewife named Koino Yumemi reunite with her first love, Karatsu Toukichi, a talented potter. Because both of them were not happy with their marriages, they both left their partners to be together and start a new life. But it doesn't end there, unfortunately. Their new life together is even worse than before because Toukichi's ex-wife kept all the assets to Toukichi's pottery since she knew how to sell his creations. Without any money or the business savvy on how to sell Toukichi's pottery, both of them now live in a small house in the woods with Yumemi taking a part-time job and both of them constantly arguing with each other.
  • Refuge in Audacity: There's a lot of things that Moguro has done to screw over all of his customers that it's hard to choose which one is the worst. He broken up families, relationships, and friendships, he drove several people insane, he ruins everybody's life, and he just laughs at it.
    • If we're going strictly by property damage, the cases involving Mr. Uranari and Udo Taizo, from the old and new animes respectively, are top contenders. The former got drunk when drinking with Moguro, then was encouraged to go on a drunken joyride with a stolen (by Moguro nonetheless) semi-truck, smashing into various walls, driving completely through a family's living room, and eventually crashing into what appears to be a love hotel. note  The later when on a rampage in a studio when the mask he was wearing wouldn't come off, destroying the set, damaging costly equipment, forcing the crew to run outside to avoid getting hurt, and kicking the asses of his sleazy agent and the rude director.
  • Salaryman: Most of Moguro's victims usually have this type of occupation.
  • Setting Update: Laughing Salesmen NEW is set around or after 2015 note  due to the fact that the original didn't have computers or smartphones. NEW also adapts some of the episodes from the original and places them in a modern setting with some changes.
  • Signature Laugh: Moguro often gives a soft "Oooh-hoo-hoo-hoo!" during an episode. At the end of every episode, however, he gives off a much louder "OOOOH-HOO-HOO-HOO-HA-HA-HA-HAAA!"
  • Signature Sound Effect: Even more iconic than Moguro's above mentioned laughter is the sound effect "DON". It always appears when he does... something to his clients while pointing his finger at them. It's so associated with him that in the 2017 series, both the opening and ending songs are written all around it.
    • It's so signature that, before the 2017 series premiere, a website was launched were you are quizzed by Moguro himself. After completing it, he will ascertain your desire and promptly "DON" you. You can then keep pressing the button to keep being "DON"d. You can take the quiz here (unfortunately, only in Japanese), or if you're just interested in the "DON", click here.
  • Shadow Walker: Moguro appears to be one of these. The one time we do see him teleport onscreen in Episode 7 of NEW, he just... appears out of thin air from a dark spot.
  • Sharp Dressed Man: Trips to a bathhouse or the gym aside, Moguro is always seen in his three-piece suit, tie, and hat.
  • The Social Expert: Moguro knows the right words to tempt his customers to do business with him.
  • Stage Mom: The focus of Episode 11 of NEW's B-segment.
  • Stalker Without a Crush: Once Moguro finds a customer, he'll stalk them to learn more about them, follow them until they acknowledge him, and/or catch them in the act of breaking their promise.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Moguro is fond of suddenly appearing next to his victims when they least expect him to. NEW also has him equally disappearing just as suddenly as well.
  • Supporting Protagonist: Moguro is, of course, in every episode and will offer his services to start the plot. However, it's his clients that the story focuses on and their desires and actions drive the episode after they run into Moguro.
  • Sweet Tooth: Debara Nayami loves his daifuku. However, that caused him to gain a big belly and made it impossible for him to get a big break in his acting career. At one point, Moguro even references this trope by name. Debara made a deal with Moguro, who gave him a Tanuki statue. Whenever he got a craving, Debara prayed to the statue. It worked until he relapsed, and thus his weight returned.
  • The Omniscient: Moguro is this, at least in the sense that he knows everything that is worth knowing about his intended victim. He'll know your name even if you never introduced yourself. This is why trying to lie to him is fruitless. In NEW, when directly asked how he could know so much, he handwaves it as "Just a hunch".
  • Tareme Eyes: Don't be fooled by the doopy look on Moguro's face. Underestimating him is a bad idea.
    • The Bartender from "Demon's Nest" also has these. Since his mouth is completely covered by his beard, it makes him look sad or sleepy.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Downplayed. Moguro gave his customers a simple warning that they always tend to ignore and he punishes them for ignoring him. Granted, they don't take his warnings too seriously because they don't know what he's truly capable of and they assume he'll never find out, unaware that he's always watching them.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: If Moguro's customers aren't the ones that screw themselves over, it's usually their friends' fault for making them break their deals with Moguro.
  • Tranquil Fury: Even if he's upset with a client, usually for betraying his trust, he never really raises his voice that much or look angry when he's dishing out his revenge. A lot of it comes from his facial expression never changing.
  • Traveling Salesman: He travels through Japan looking for potential customers he believes that need his "help".
  • Trespassing to Talk: Don't be surprised if you suddenly find Moguro inside your home, just so he can speak to you. And no, locking the doors won't stop him.
  • Troll: If you're lucky, Moguro will simply act playful, mischevious, and irreverent in front of you. Pray you don't get his attention afterwards.
    • A more straightforward example appears in Episode 12A of NEW. A user named Light Knight types politely in the chat room but does so in a way to deliberately antagonizes Match Drill.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: None of Moguro's customers find it odd that he knows about their personal life, his unlimited resources, his Stealth Hi/Bye moments, or the fact that he constantly smiles 24/7. Some of them question him but they push it aside to focus on their main problem. It's subverted in Episode 7B of NEW when one of the mothers points out how creepy he looks with his smile and actually plans to call the police on him when they see him near their children.
  • Vague Age: Moguro's age is never mentioned. Most describe him as a "middle-aged man" by appearance, but if both animes are within the same continuity, he then he hasn't aged a single day in well over twenty years. note 
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Downplayed. Moguro isn't famous by any stretch of the imagination, but he does a lot of legitimate business with many people who respect him, especially in the old anime series. It's very likely they don't know about his true nature.
  • Villainous Rescue: Often, Moguro will help out, sometimes literally save the life of, someone he's interested in. Of course, there's no guarantee he won't screw them over himself after that...
  • Villains Out Shopping: In the original, the episode would always end with Moguro walking off after doing his business with his customers. In NEW, they break the formula by having Moguro do mundane activities at the end, such as eating lunch on a boat, relaxing at a hot spring, and working out at a gym.
    • In general, in both the old series and NEW, Moguro runs into most of his clients while taking a break, getting something to eat/drink, or generally just walking or traveling the train. He does actively look for clients but he's also likely to find them when minding his own business before interfering.
  • Villain Protagonist: Take a wild guess.
  • The Voiceless: As mentioned above, if the bartender of "Demon's Nest" is capable of speaking, we have yet to hear him talk out loud.
  • We Will Meet Again: Played with. Moguro is never "defeated", but he'll often let his victims know they'll run into him later, especially if they initially refuse his services. At the end of the half-hour TV special, he stops walking away to look at the viewers and tell them "We will meet again." before giving off his trade-mark laughter.
    • True to his word, NEW was announced and premired in 2017. He really was telling the truth when he said he'll meet us again!
  • Would Scam A Girl: While a majority of his clients are males, he has no qualm targeting females.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: So far, none of Moguro's victims are below the age of 20. Not that young children might not still suffer indirectly if they happen to be the children of one of his "clients".
  • You Are What You Hate: Deyashiro, a put-upon Salaryman with an abusive boss, becomes exactly like said boss when given the most minuscule taste of authority over other people.
    • A researcher named Towani had his work stolen by an ex-girlfriend. He winds up doing exactly the same to his loyal subordinate. Only Mogoru is there to make sure he pays for it.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Several of his customers are married, some of them are happy marriages and others take their marriage for granted. Moguro's actions would lead them to cheat or leave their partners.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Manga/LaughingSalesman